Local Labour councillors hail success after securing £45,000 to upgrade public footpath 216 in Butt Lane. The footpath is accessed from West Avenue and runs behind the houses of Church Street, finally exiting onto Congleton Road adjacent to St. Saviours Primary School. The improvement works will be funded by a Public Right of Way contribution from Taylor Wimpey. Taylor Wimpey’s contribution was secured through a section 106 agreement with Newcastle Borough Council.
It is understood that the works will be completed by contractors appointed by Staffordshire County Council and not housing developer, Taylor Wimpey. The contractor will begin work on the surfacing of the footpath on Monday 16th January. The path will be temporarily closed for the duration of the works. Residents are politely asked to use other routes until the works are completed.
Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “I welcome the news that this footpath will finally be brought up to a decent standard. Back in 2013, Sylvia and I raised the alarm about the state the public footpath had been left in following the development of Bluebell Croft. The footpath in question has been used for many years by local residents as a safer route to school and for recreational purposes. I am pleased we have been listened to on this matter and finally this 106 agreement will deliver for local people. It’s about time our local area gets the investment it deserves and we will fight for more.”
Councillor Sylvia Dymond added: “Many residents have been calling for an improvement to the footpath, including those that have moved onto the new estate. Local people have endured two years of problems with fencing, building work and a muddy overgrown footpath so this news is well received. At last we have a safer route for everyone to reach the local school, shops and to just enjoy a walk.”
Taylor Wimpey has applied to reduce its affordable housing contribution from 25% to just 16% on its Mitchell Gardens development in Butt Lane. The developer has claimed that it’s controversial development of over 170 homes would not be financially viable if the company had to build the recommended quota of affordable homes. Residents have been left reeling after discovering the new plans submitted by Taylor Wimpey to Newcastle Borough Councils Planning Department two weeks ago.
Cllr Kyle Robinson said: “Taylor Wimpey have made a mockery of the residents in this town. Recent figures suggested that Taylor Wimpey’s order books for new homes is up 12 per cent from the same time last year to £1.9bn. This will equate to millions in profit for the company. How dare this company move into our Town, take up our green space and then plead poverty to wriggle out of its obligations to the people. The real victims of this scandal are the young families trying to get on the property ladder, but have no way of putting down a deposit on the majority of these luxury homes. There is a local and national affordable housing crisis and yet again the Government is letting developers walk all over communities. I strongly believe this latest move is a form of social cleansing in the making. If local land is to be developed for housing then local people should be given the opportunity to buy these homes at affordable rates. I have asked Newcastle Borough Council to implement an independent review of Taylor Wimpey’s claims that the development is not viable with 25% affordable properties included.”
Newly elected Butt Lane Councillor, Sylvia Dymond said: “There have been concerns for years that Taylor Wimpey would try and pull the wool over the eyes of local residents. We now see their true colours. The people of Butt Lane have been forced to sacrifice a huge amount of green space used by local people for many recreational activities. One of the criteria for approval of planning permission was that 25% of the development was affordable housing. We have accepted that housing is needed in the Borough and around the country, but this whole saga is a slap in the face for those locals looking to buy an affordable home on Mitchell Gardens. I don’t know how much more of this we can take as a community.”
You can object to the Taylor Wimpey proposals by using the reference 15/00441/DOAHR and visiting: http://publicaccess.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/online-applications/
Newcastle Borough Council Planning Department, Civic Offices, Merrial Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 2AG, quoting reference 14/00562/REM.
You can check out the plans online by visiting the following link and entering reference 14/00562/REM:
Residents have now called a public meeting to take place on Monday 11th August, 7pm at Kidsgrove Athletic Football Club, Hollinwood Road, ST7 1BQ.
Residents have complained of massive increases in traffic using side streets, the A34 and other local roads due to the increase in developments in the local area. Questions have been asked of the highways department at Staffordshire County Council. Has enough been done to address the concerns of local roads being ‘strangled’ for the sake of luxury housing developments? Has Staffordshire Highways department done a thorough survey to find out how we can remedy the heavy flow in traffic at peak times?
Local resident and objector to the application, Jean Evans said: “This development will impact on many lives around the Talke, Butt lane and Kidsgrove area. The proposed access onto Congleton road will without doubt cause huge issues. We all know there are already serious parking and speeding issues, both of which have the potential to cause a major accident. The damage to the road service caused by the ‘wide’ loads that can come past on a weekly basis, not to mention the unsettling of the manhole covers, that can make an inordinate noise once unsettled, but can take the highways department, months to come an fix. To encourage even more traffic onto Congleton road without addressing these very serious issues first, is ludicrous. Both mine, my husbands and my mum and dads lives will certainly be impacted by the ‘air pollution’ generated from potentially 120 plus vehicles all queuing to exit onto Congleton road every morning. Drivers travelling along Congleton road are always very reluctant to let people out. The amount of properties Taylor Wimpey are proposing means there could be 120 plus engines idling for around 1/2 an hour or so, every single morning”.
Concerns have been raised regarding the lack of affordable properties and social housing on these types of luxury developments. Far too often local people are being pushed to one side in favour of new residents from outside the area with much more financial means. This means that young people and even middle aged families in Butt Lane have to move out of the area to buy cheaper properties in the neighbouring city just to get their foot on the housing ladder. Is this really fair on the local families that have grown up and contributed to this community for many years? Is it fair that their land is being swallowed up for luxury housing?
Whilst Taylor Wimpey has promised to protect natural woodland on the site, concerns continue to be raised that the development will have a negative impact on the wildlife and environment. Only a few months ago local people shared their stories of witnessing many habitats for wildlife including bat roosts, badger sets and rare bird nests. It seems following investigations from local people, the wildlife trust and other organisations have not been contacted to do a thorough investigation of the site to determine how much wildlife will be affected.
Church Street residents are calling for more to be done with regards to the height of the new dwellings at the back of their homes. For years, people have been use to natural sunlight into their gardens and beautiful views of the countryside behind them. Whilst this isn’t usually considered by planners, perhaps some kind of compensation should be paid to residents that have lived on Church Street for most of their lives.
My summary as a local representative is not that I am opposed to change. I am opposed to the way in which this development has been designed. 171 homes for this site seem to be excessive and unhealthy for those that will be living in the properties and those currently living nearby. Bluebell croft was developed much more sensibly and not in the cramped style being proposed for this development. Green space continues to be eaten away due to national government planning policy. Power from local people has been taken away and we no longer seem to get a say on what happens in our community. We get it that there is a housing shortage, but why is Butt Lane being treated as dumping ground for the rest of Newcastle-under-Lyme? There are so many questions being asked by Butt Lane Councillors and residents, but it seems everything we ask is dismissed or laughed at. It is important for residents not to get their hopes up as planning permission has been granted on this site previously, but we must make a stand against the layout, the proposed amount of homes, the increase in traffic and car pollution and the possible destruction of natural habitats and wildlife. Some would say we are fighting a losing battle, but I will not stand by and ignore the people of Butt Lane. That is just not the way we do things.