Retford councillor Helen Richards resigns over '1,250 homes' plan for Ordsall

A Bassetlaw councillor has resigned after concerns surrounding a plan for 800 homes in her ward, saying the job had become ‘untenable’.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 11:00 am

Helen Richards announced she had left her role as councillor for Retford East South at Bassetlaw District Council in an emotional post on Facebook.

Ms Richards said: “With regret, I have to announce that I have resigned my seat on Bassetlaw District Council with immediate effect.

“My sincere apologies to everyone who put their faith in me in May 2015, again in May 2019 and most recently in last month's county council election.

Bassetlaw District Council, Queen's Buildings
Bassetlaw District Council, Queen's Buildings

"I am sorry to let you down but I now feel that my position as your councillor has become untenable.”

Ms Richards added in November 2020, Bassetlaw District Council embarked upon a public consultation on the latest version of its developing draft local plan.

“Having escaped housing site allocations in earlier versions, Ordsall now found it was being considered for 800 homes on farmland heading out towards Eaton,” said Ms Richards.

“The challenges of conducting a meaningful public consultation during a pandemic were considerable, so a Local Survey was conducted by myself, with support from colleagues, to guage the views of Ordsall residents.

“The view of Ordsall residents was overwhelming opposed to a development of 800 homes.

“The district council has since carried out further work on the Draft Local Plan and launched another period of public consultation.

“In this latest version the 800 homes in Ordsall south has been increased to a further 450 to a total 1,250 over a two plan period.”

Ms Richards raised a number of concerns surrounding the proposed development such as impact on the road network, the impact on existing education provision and lack of local employment opportunities.

“There is now a new primary school proposed but not until well after the original 800 homes are built, so sometime after 2037,” said Ms Richards.

"In the meantime, the existing primary school provision across Retford will be expected to accommodate the 21 pupils per 100 homes that the county council anticipate new developments will bring forward, so approximately 160 additional pupils will need to be placed locally or else be transported, probably by car, to any schools with space.

"The proposals for Ordsall South include homes suitable for OAPs and those with disabilities. But new employment opportunities for Retford identified within the plan are extremely limited, so many of the future working residents of the 1,250 homes will be commuting across town or out of the immediate area to access employment.

“I hoped to be a strong voice for Retford East at county, closing the distance between decisions made at County Hall and the those who have to live with the effects of those same decisions in North Notts. The electorate made a different choice, but I am grateful to those who did trust me with their vote,” added Ms Richards.

“I am sorry that I have not been able to make the clearly articulated views of the Ordsall community heard at district in any meaningful way. You deserve to have your views heard and to be listened to.”

Ms Richards added there would likely be a subsequent by-election and encouraged residents to ask canvassars how they can stop the development.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Sam Jackson, editor.