White Hills Park Federation consults on disposal of land and surrender of lease

There are only a few days left to respond to the White Hills Park Federation consultation on its intention to apply to  the Secretary of State for Education for permission to sell the 10 hectares (approx 25 acres) of playing fields adjacent to Coventry lane. This land is owned by the Nottinghamshire County Council and leased by the Federation on a 125 year lease.

The Federation is also consulting on a proposed application to the Secretary of State for Education to surrender its lease with Nottinghamshire County Council of approximately 4.7 hectares (approx 2 acres) of land occupied by the school buildings of the Bramcote School (formerly the Park School).   The Federation claims that “No decision has been taken at this time regarding the future use of this site.” In fact Broxtowe councillors have already decided to earmark this land for “Land for replacement School. Land for replacement Leisure Centre if required”

Details are at: http://www.whpfederation.org/index.php/buildings-and-improvements/consultation

The consultation is open until 9 April 2017:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FV9JZJN

 

 

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NOTICE: The author is the independent candidate for Bramcote and Beeston North in the County Council elections on 4 May 2017.

Please consider voting for PAUL NATHANAIL on 4 May 2017 to help retain land and school buildings in public ownership.

Promoted by Peter Nathanail on behalf of Paul Nathanail, both of 86 Moor Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham, NG9 3FH

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Book review: Toxic Town (Peter Little, 2014. New York Univerity Press, New Yo)

Peter Little provides an anthropologist’s view of how the International Business Machines Corporation (better known to most of us as IBM or even Big Blue and perhaps associated with HAL – the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) managed its withdrawal from Endicott – home of IBM’s first plant.

The (anti) hero of the story is trichloroethene – a solvent widely used in industry to degrease surfaces. TCE is a very volatile liquid and a carcinogen. TCE comprises a single hydrogen, 2 carbon and 3 chlorine atoms. Although only sparingly soluble in (ground)water, TCE’s toxicity is high enough that even the small amounts able to dissolve in water are able to pose risks to human health that merit concern.  In fact it only needs about 3 teaspoons of TCE for the water in an Olympic size swimming pool to exceed  drinking water standards.

When a natural scientist leaves his comfort zone he expects to be challenged. Little certainly managed that for this reader. He quotes Geertz on ethnographic fieldwork but the comment applies as much to reading anthropological takes on a familiar scenario. Reading Toxic Town “is an educational experience all around. What is difficult is to decide what has been learned”. Language such as “the enduring ambiguities of the TCE plume lurk and the plume’s extralinguistic material reality persists” (p181) takes some getting used to. But persistence pays off.

Little refers to literature that my own constituency will be familiar with – including publications by the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC). What we would call risk management or risk control measures Little refers to as mitigation – and broadens it, to include its spatial dimension, to “mitigation landscape”. “Venting systems with white plastic tubing running from basements to roofs are visible on nearly 500 houses and businesses in Endicott’s downtown area” (p 16).  He observes that this visible mitigation, that has “made risk ‘public'”, is in stark contrast to the “elusive plume lurking beneath”.

Ultimately this is a story that will be familiar with many in the contaminated land, hazardous waste, brownfield and risk based land management communities in the USA, Europe, China, Australia and beyond.  Those of us who seek to ensure our work is of value to, and valued by, our communities would do well to read this book and reflect on what we need to do to maintain (or perhaps obtain) a social licence to operate our various mitigation technologies.

Paul Nathanail

 

FURTHER DETAILS AND TO PURCHASE: https://nyupress.org/books/9780814770924/

DISCLOSURE I was sent a review copy of the book, at my request, but have received no payment nor has my review been subject to any third party review, including by the author or his publishers.

Hole in one or hole in the foot? Musings on Bramcote Hills’ Golf Course

“No man is an island” and neither is any piece of land, whether private or public. Each site adjoins others, is visible from elsewhere and is part of the intricate web of flows of air, water, seeds and animals that respect no laws of trespass and know nothing of ownership.

But hermits can isolate themselves – in cave, a desert or atop the Stylites’ pole. I don’t need you and I reject your polluting influence on me. Land can be fenced off, gated and secured to keep out unwanted homo sapiens. But wildlife is more sensitive. The pavement slab, the stretch of tarmac, the splash of night light are chasms – unknown, unfamiliar and unfathomable. The chain is broken, the link severed, the corridor turned into a dead end.

Let’s turn now to the golf links. The ball is teed up, the club swung and the trajectory is true and sweet… the green approaches, the ball lands, rolls and… disappears in to the hole. A moment of glory, an eye blink of elation that hinged on a blade of grass, a gust of wind or even the angle the flag pole was returned. It’s traditional that the achievement of a hole in one is followed by paying for one’s envious friends drinks in the 19th hole. Such is the cost of such largess that one can buy insurance against that glorious day.

When undeveloped land is built on, to all intents and purposes it’s forever. No till death do us part, no quickie divorce. The decision to build may take as long as a planning committee takes to raise its hands. The consequences echo down the years and decades. A monument to those raised hands. Sure the buildings will last, sure they’ll be used. But at what price? And who’s, and what’s, paying the cost? How far will the ripples go?

Broxtowe’s tory blue councillors face a dilemma this coming week. On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, do they follow the advice of their officers and permit development of part of the former Bramcote Hills’ golf course or do they listen to the clamour of the local community and the trinity of local councillors who stood on tickets so green they were the envy of Robin Hood.

As they ponder their decision, they might reflect on why they are in this position in the first place. They might lament the missed opportunities: Beeston Town Centre Phase 1, the air space above the bus-tram interchange, profligate low density development, the lure of the silver screen in Town Centre Phase 2.

They might also copy St Ignatius of Loyola. Eyes closed… fast forward in time: what will Bramcote look like if they say ‘aye’ and what if they defy their officers and say ‘nay’?

Is the ridge the place for concrete, bricks and mortar? If so, why stop at the Golf Course? What example will they be giving to others? Will this be a starting gun fired to encourage others in the race to pave Bramcote yet further?

Or is the ridge the place to savour that sweet moment of saying Bramcote is good; Bramcote works; Bramcote is sustainable. Even if there may be a, post hole in one, challenging cost to saying so.

This is a defining moment for a blue administration that wants to be seen as green: will it be a sweet hole in one or a bullet hole in the foot?

Wednesday night will tell.

Proper Planning Prevents Pitiful Places for People

Britain has a long standing policy of plan led development to make sure that a presumption in favour of land owners developing their land as they wish is tempered with the impact of the wishes and needs of others.
Every decade or so local planning authorities decide how much development and what sort of development their area needs and then produce maps of where they would wish such development to take place.
Inevitably plans are controversial. Change is uncomfortable – but inevitable. Plans allow for the wider, positive and negative, impacts of new developments to be anticipated and the worst errors avoided while minimising the chances of opportunities being missed.
People living in an area have long had a voice in agreeing local plans – through formal and informal consultation. While that voice may be heard, it is not always listened to.
As a country we can have pretty much anything we want. But we cannot have it everywhere and we cannot have everything. Negotiation, compromise, altruism and mutual understanding can give power not only to our elbow but also to our collective voice.

Neighbourhood matters

Good morning.
Haven’t seen you in ages.
How are you?
Lovely day.
Got to dash.

Jesus pointed to the actions of the good Samaritan as exemplifying the actions of a neighbour.

Now the clocks have ‘sprung forward’ many of us have emerged from a winter hibernation and are rediscovering the pleasure of an early evening stroll. Strolls when we bump into neighbours we haven’t seen since… well since the clocks fell back last October.

Conversations like the one above are but a start.
See you at church, in the pub at the game
We must get together for lunch, a coffee
Did you know that so and so are getting married?
Have you met the lovely couple who moved into number 23?
I’ve been meaning to ask…

But these conversations are not as random as they seem. They happen because our streets have safe pavements, our open spaces have public footpaths. These were planned and are maintained for us. They create the physical space where we can bump into each other and pass the time of day.

We live in a ‘place’ that splices people and environment. A place that is unique because the space and the people are unique.

And that is what makes where we live a neighbourhood.

Humpty Dumpty goes to court – or when is a garden (not) a brownfield?

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

Broxtowe Borough Council is in the throes of preparing its Local Plan – Part 2.  Not so much a sequel to the Aligned Core Strategy on whose altar was sacrificed the Green Belt first of Field Farm and now seemingly in Toton but an essential component of the Local Plan.  A sort of Deathly Hallows Part 2 if you will.

This time last year Broxtowe, then under Labour/ Liberal Democrat control, undertook a consultation on the green belt – under a banner of “tidying up” the green belt – in which large swathes of  green belt were being offered up as suitable for development in order to meet the Council’s own adopted housing need.

The present Conservative government is consulting on changes to its own 2012 vintage National Planning Policy Framework. The consultation period was extended to Monday 22 February – tomorrow as I write this.  One of the suggestions is that brownfield sites in the green belt should be more readily allowed to be redeveloped for ‘starter homes’.

This would mean that brownfield sites in the green belt (such as a former school) would get planning permission. The danger of starter homes in the green belt is it would eat into the green belt with housing – meaning that it would subsequently be easier to argue that development on adjacent “green” undeveloped areas of green belt could then simply be seen as infill. In the long (or perhaps medium) term it would mean the demise of swathes of green belt and the merging of settlements.

A recent High Court case upheld a decision that whereas gardens are not previously developed land (a term considered in the NPPF as synonymous with brownfield) if the garden is in an urban area gardens in rural areas are previously developed land (brownfields).  This then begs the question of what is the definition of an urban or rural area.

The reason definitions of terms matters is that the government is planning on requiring local authorities to develop a register of brownfield sites, and specifically those that are suitable for housing, and is minded to grant such sites in the green belt automatic planning permission for “starter homes” (i.e. costing less than £250,000 outside London).

Perhaps it is fitting to give the last word to Lewis Carroll’s characters:

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy

The Government is currently consulting on amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
 
The consultation is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/488276/151207_Consultation_document.pdf (you may need to cut and paste the URL into a browser rather than clicking)
 
The consultation is examining changes in the following areas:
·         broadening the definition of affordable housing, to expand the range of low cost housing opportunities for those aspiring to own their new home
·         increasing residential density around commuter hubs, to make more efficient use of land in suitable locations
·         supporting sustainable new settlements, development on brownfield land and small sites, and delivery of housing allocated in plans
·         supporting delivery of starter homes
 
Given the current debate in Broxtowe about land use and housing, the specific focus on housing in the consultation is noteworthy and something our councillors would do well do keep in mind as they formulate part 2 of the local plan and make decisions about key sites in the borough.
 
It is worth contrasting the lack of focus on residential provision in Beeston town centre by both the present Conservative council and the predecessor Labour/ Lib Dem coalition with a desire to see Increasing residential density around commuter hubs.  Our brand new tram-bus interchange and the adjacent Phase 2 of the Town Centre look like the perfect place for high density residential development. Yet our council seems to be focusing only on leisure related land uses for a strategically important tract of land that could help improve the economic viability of both Beeston town centre and the shops along Chilwell High Street – both “a short walk away” as the voice-over on the bus might say.
 
The consultation reinforces the commitment to protecting the Green Belt and maintaining the strong safeguards on Green Belt set out in national planning policy. This promise to protect the Green Belt of course was also a mainstay of successful candidates in both the general and local election.  Only 0.1% of land in the Green Belt is previously developed land suitable for housing, often with structures or buildings in place. Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of such land – where this would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development – is already deemed not inappropriate.
 
Anyone who wants to respond to the consultation can do so by the deadline of 22 February 2016 online at:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YZBLFJP

Wanted: urban land for housing

Broxtowe Borough Council is looking for extra housing sites to augment its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.

Specifically it is asking land owners, or their agents, for sites that are:

vacant, derelict or underused
where business is considering re-location
large garden plots
suitable for conversions of existing buildings.

If you can help, call 0115 917 3482 or email policy@broxtowe.gov.uk

why are they doing this? to avoid having to erode the green belt of course. This is the 5th function of the green belt: to encourage reuse of urban land and to minimise urban sprawl.

it is noteworthy that the word ‘brownfield’ is not mentioned. The above types of land would meet the definition of brownfield widely used across Europe.

Well done Broxtowe! (and if any readers have any underemployed land, do contact the council).