COMMUNITY groups battling proposals to erect 100 homes on a former school playing field have vowed to take their fight right to the top, in a campaign thought to be the first of its kind.
Rolleston Parish Council and the College Fields Action Group (CFAG) have long been against the plans by Burton and South Derbyshire College to build on the field of the former Forest of Needwood Secondary School because of highways issues and the fact the site was widely opposed by residents in the neighbourhood development plan.
But as the controversial scheme is now up for approval by planners, the groups have taken steps to push the application higher – writing to secretary of state Eric Pickles to ask him to review it under the calling in procedure. They say planners are not taking account of the neighbourhood plan, which has been forged under Mr Pickle’s Localism Act and is mere weeks away from completion.
Simon Anderson, CFAG chairman, said: “The people of Rolleston have been very clear and consistent with what they are looking for in the community and what they would like to see as an end result.
“There’s been so much work that people have done and they have been really passionate about using what many people believe the Government put forward to give people the ability to decide at local level how their community grows.
The proposals are due to go before East Staffordshire Borough Council’s planning board on Monday. If they are approved, it renders much of the neighbourhood plan immaterial, despite the fact it is a UK frontrunner in the Government-backed scheme.
A letter was due to be sent to Mr Pickles this week. A call for support has also gone out to Burton MP Andrew Griffiths and Staffordshire county councillor Bob Fraser.
In a report due to go before councillors on Monday, planners say the development is sustainable and raises no concerns for the amenity of nearby residents.
They point out that money raised from the development will be used towards education provision at the college, based in Burton town centre, adding: “Whilst there will clearly be some adverse impacts from this scheme, and there is significant objection from neighbours, the benefits of the proposal weigh heavily in support of the application. On balance, the benefits of the scheme outweigh any specific concerns raised in relation to the proposal.”
A total of 325 objections were received from Rolleston residents, and several from statutory bodies.