Nick Knowles' plans for veterans village on city outskirts narrowly approved
The brainchild of the BBC presenter, plans for the village include 48 homes, community spaces, training and support facilities, a cafe and outdoor spaces that would be open to the public.
It is designed to give veterans a place to live while they adapt to civilian life and will be the first development of its kind in the country.
But councillors were split on whether to support the development.
Some said it would give ex-personnel and their families the support they needed while keeping some of Setting Dyke open for visitors.
Others said it would effectively create a “garrison” on Hull’s outskirts which would isolate its residents, many of whom would be suffering from mental health problems such as PTSD.
Several residents living near to the site objected over repeatedly flooding which led in part to the former Setting Dyke Secondary School being demolished.
Others said they were against losing Setting Dyke as a community green space which they have worked to maintain and which is home to endangered wildlife.
Mr Knowles, famous for presenting shows like DIY SOS and, told councillors it would fit into the city’s tradition of helping veterans.
He said worries that veterans would not be able to integrate into the wider community were unfounded.
“Hull has a proud history of being involved with the military and with helping veterans,” he said.
“To suggest that they’re not the right kind of people to bring into the area is unfair.
“The plans would see the green area not only preserved but enhanced. We’re not talking about cutting any trees down, more will be planted.
“Veterans Village will bring benefits to the local community. It’ll help preserve the environment and improvements to the site will reduce flooding.
“Training for the residents there will start on day one. It will also create opportunities for locals through apprenticeships.
“A project in Manchester that turned a street over to housing for veterans is estimated to have saved taxpayers there more than £1m in the long run.”
Cllr Hester Bridges, who runs a veterans project, said the development would make sure ex-personnel got the housing they needed.
He said: “Having worked with veterans I’ve come to understand their needs.
“Many of them struggle to find homes when they leave the military. Figures also show that around 60 to 70 per cent of veterans who need support have disabilities.
“I understand the concerns of local residents but these have been addressed by the applicant and there have been consultations.
“Veterans need support to adapt to civilian life. This will offer them a supportive environment where they can live with their families.
“This is an opportunity that must not be missed.”
Steven Kingdom, a veteran who spoke against the plans, said it would lead to a “significant loss” of public land.
Mr Kingdom said: “There’s many brownfield sites that could be used for this village.
“If this project goes ahead it will serve to isolate veterans and make them a target.
“The green space already helps residents, including veterans. It’s a special place for the local community which would lose a valuable area.
“It’s also a flood plain and every year it floods more and more.
“I can’t see anything in this proposal that isn’t already available for veterans in Hull. It could leave veterans with conditions such as PTSD having to rely on buses to get to where they need to be.”
Cllr Cheryl Payne, who represents Derringham ward where Veterans Village is to be built, said she and residents agreed with the idea but not the location.
She said: “The Armed Forces Covenant says veterans should have quality housing and be given support and training. We do offer veterans that support as do other projects.
“The site has been managed as a community green space. I’ve spoken to residents and many think the project is a wonderful idea.
“But I and others do not think this is the right place, it was hit hard by flooding in 2007. And we could have veterans from Hull coming to live there who know what the area is like already.”
Cllr Julie Greenhill, also of Derringham ward, said: “How will it integrate veterans into the community?
“When you come out of the armed forces you do not want to go back to living in another garrison.”
Plans for the village include houses with up to four bedrooms for both single veterans and their families.
The houses are designed to be sustainable and provide accommodation for a total of 120 people.
Initial works on the complex would begin in November or December, with building estimated to take around two years.
The site lies on the border between Hull City Council and East Riding Council. The East Riding application is yet to be examined.