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Retired miner could be evicted from land earmarked for housing after 42 years in Clowne

todayNovember 28, 2022 5

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*** Amendment – Word ‘lease’ altered to ‘licence’ ***

“It’s taking everything away from me” says the retired miner who is waiting to see  if he’s evicted from land he’s looked after for 42 years so the council can build houses on it.

76-year-old Melvyn Cooling has kept horses on the fields off Rood Lane, Clowne, since the 1980s, but now owner Bolsover District Council (BDC) wants to build houses on them.

“For many years it’s been my life,” he said.  

“It gives me something to get up for, and my horses.”

In February, BDC officers told neighbour and parish councillor Sharon Gregory they planned to demolish her’s and the attached empty bungalow to gain access to the site, as they could not prove ownership of the only current access point off Rood Lane.

Mr Cooling said he felt ill when he heard through Councillor Gregory of their plan, but has had no communication from the council with regards to it, despite asking them directly several times.

His last horse William sadly passed away from colic on Christmas Day last year and he decided not to replace him because if he could be made to leave the land with just three months notice, according to the terms of his licence.

“I’ve even sold my stables, because if they only give me three months I’ve got to find somebody to buy them haven’t I?” he said. 

“Or I’ve got to find somewhere to put them, and I haven’t got anywhere.  

“So I’ve got to be in front of them.”

A member of the British Driving Society, Mr Cooling used to travel around the country showing horses with his late wife Cath.

His grandfather, who was also a miner, got him into horses as a child and he used to look after the pit ponies when he worked at Oxcroft Colliery.

Later he worked at Markham Colliery and served for 20 years on Mines Rescue, during which time he found it therapeutic to tend to the horses in the fields after dealing with tragedies below ground.

Mr Cooling said the land, which was previously used for cattle, has never had any chemicals on it and his care of it over the years has made it a haven for wildlife in the urban setting.

“It is classed as meadow land and where do we get meadow land around Clowne?” he commented.

Over the years, the ex-miner has tried on several occasions to buy the land from the authority, even offering more than what he believed it was worth at the time, but has always been knocked back.

A BDC spokesperson said: “We understand situations like this are upsetting and we always speak to those involved to try and address any concerns. 

“Due to the collapse of our preferred building contractor and the establishment of our new Dragonfly Development company we are concentrating on our current construction projects, before any decisions are made on new building schemes. 

“As these sites progress our design team can start to look at future projects and a decision can be taken with regard to Rood Lane.”

Mr Cooling has joined neighbours in raising concerns about the potential traffic that would result from a new housing development, especially taking into account the nearby Clowne Junior School and severe congestion that blocks the roads at pick up and drop off times.

BDC would not comment upon the effect any potential housing development would have on highways safety because no planning application has been submitted for the site yet.

Melvyn Cooling at the entrance to the fields off Rood Lane, Clowne, that he has rented for 42 years. Picture taken by Christina Massey.

Written by: NDR NEWS

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