Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Save Roman Southwell - Protesters celebrate as school site homes scheme is blocked

THE rejection of plans to build 29 homes on a former school site has been hailed as a victory for "the will of the people".

A construction firm wanted to build the homes on Southwell Minster School's old Church Street site.

The site is considered to be of huge historic significance as it is home to the remains of one of the largest Roman villas in the UK.

Councillors on Newark and Sherwood District Council's planning committee last night turned down the proposals, to the relief of protesters.

After the meeting, Southwell resident Brendan Haigh expressed his delight, though admitted he is concerned more plans could be submitted. "I'm absolutely delighted with the result," he said. "It represents the will of the people.

"It would have been absolutely awful if the application had gone through, but this may not be the end of the story."

The authority had been expected to approve the proposals ahead of the meeting.

But Councillor Paul Handley, who represents Southwell North, told the meeting it was very important the plans were rejected because they didn't follow the authority's planning guidelines.

He said: "Also important to mention is that there are a lot of listed buildings in the immediate area.

"Of all the buildings surrounding it, only two have been built in the last 50 years."

Councillor Roger Dobson, of Southwell Town Council, also spoke out against the plans.

He said: "I've spoken on numerous occasions for the council, but I've never felt as passionately as on this occasion.

"There are a substantial number of people in the community who oppose it.

"The site is not only of local importance, but of national importance."

Earlier this year, the Reverend Professor Martin Henig of Oxford University said the site could be "a five-star educational and tourist resource for the town".

The proposals were submitted by Caunton Properties Ltd. They immediately found opposition from people living in the area.

A petition calling for the site to be protected from development was signed by more than 3,499 people. Campaigners said they wanted the site to remain clear and for information boards to be put up.

Southwell Town Council also objected to the proposals.

Roman remains were discovered under parts of Southwell in the 1790s. Baths which formed part of a villa were uncovered when a site in Church Street was cleared for the building of the original Southwell Minster School in 1959. The site closed down and was later destroyed by a large fire in October 2007.

No one from Caunton Properties Ltd was available for comment last night.

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