Sunday, 1 June 2008

Playing field relief marred by more City Council deceit

Councillor Dave Trimble listens while Tim from the consultants explains why student housing is preferable to keyworker housing on the site of Dunkirk Fire Station. Tim admitted to me that student housing would be more profitable than keyworker housing.

Downloaded from Google Maps

On Wednesday I went down to the Dunkirk and Old Lenton Community Centre to see plans and a display by a developer who wants to build on the site of the existing Dunkirk Fire Station, which will close at the end of 2008, or thereabouts, when a new fire station opens in Beeston. My main concern was the future of Dunkirk school playing field, which is located between the fire station and the Beeston Canal.

With luck, you should be able to see the fire station and the playing field in the aerial view I have downloaded from Google Maps and pasted at the top of this blog. In the bottom left-hand corner, to the south of the roundabout, the community centre and to its right a large building, which is the Dunkirk Primary and Junior School.

The good news is that the playing field is not part of the proposed development, although such are the proposed arrangements for future access (just a 3m corridor of land with a right of way for whoever owns the playing field) that the only people who will be able to develop the playing field will be the owners of the 500–550 units (bedrooms) of student accommodation proposed for the site. In other words Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, who owned the Dunkirk Fire Station site, and Nottingham City Council, who owned some adjacent land included in the sale, have made it very difficult for the school to realise the true value of the playing field should they ever want to sell it.

The display on Wednesday mentioned '500–550' student bedspaces on the site of Dunkirk Fire Station. Add on the additional land bought from Nottingham City Council (for £1.8m) and the number goes up to 750 student bedspaces, but there was no mention of this fact.

The developer is also planning to provide about 25 parking spaces based on 1 for every 20 bedspaces and that this is in line with what the city planners want.

The Nottingham Local Plan (dated November 2005) has a section on 'Student Housing' which, if adhered to, should stop the proposed development going ahead. However the agents, who marketed the site, described it as suitable for 'approximately 600 bedrooms (of) student/keyworker accommodation'. They would only have done this with the agreement of Nottingham City Council — which suggests the council has already decided to ignore its own Local Plan.

The fact that the site of Dunkirk Fire Station is to be redeveloped comes as no surprise. It would have been nice if the city council had spoken to local people before giving the new owners, Gladman Estates, the confidence to prepare plans for yet more student accommodation. Had local people had a say, I suspect that keyworker housing would have been preferred.

Let's hope the council gets some section 106 money from the developers and lets local residents decide on how it can be spent improving local facilities.

This is just the latest in a line of council decisions which treat the residents of Dunkirk and Lenton with disdain.

I have written a longer analysis containing the evidence which supports what I say in this blog. I have sent it to the Forum and to our city councillors.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt won his fifth 100 metres race in a world record breaking 9.72 seconds at the Reebok Grand Prix Meet in New York last night.

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