COUNCILLORS who have agreed a list of preferred sites for the future development of houses across the High Peak as part of the Local Plan were accused this week of failing to fight for locals.
Members of High Peak Borough Council approved the list at a meeting held at the Pavilion Gardens last week - but not before having to adjourn for a short period to discuss how to allow councillors to be involved in the debate once they had declared a pecuniary interest.
Derbyshire County Councillor Pam Reddy, who attended the meeting, said: “I am absolutely stunned that many of the councillors who should be fighting for Fairfield, Peak Dale, Heath Grove and Harpur Hill are actually exiting themselves from the decision making.
“The meeting was very disheartening, for a council that says it listens, it doesn’t seem to be the case.”
The Local Plan will help shape development across the borough until 2028, with a total of 5,940 dwellings being proposed.
A number of locations across the High Peak were initially put forward as potential housing sites but, following a consultation, these have now been narrowed down and will go forward in the council’s Preferred Option document, which sets out draft proposals and policies for public comment before the final Local Plan is produced later next year.
Cllr Godfrey Claff said councillors had agreed in July that their preferred housing target was 270 dwellings a year: “We still believe the High Peak needs houses. It needs houses to address the national housing crisis which also affects High Peak residents.
“Year on year on year we are falling behind and are quite simply failing in our duty to provide the homes that our constituents need.”
And Cllr John Faulkner added: “I think that it is absolutely vital that the Local Plan is in place as soon as possible.
“I also think it is important that increased housing in the High Peak must be accompanied by more jobs. I think jobs are as important as housing and I don’t think the council in this Local Plan have given enough consideration to jobs.
“We don’t know what businesses will be attracted here but having said that we might be missing a trick. If we don’t have a more flexible policy we might be missing the opportunity to get large employers attracted to the High Peak. We have to be flexible and must be in a position to offer viable sites at short notice like we did with Buxton Water.”
The list of preferred options cover the Buxton area and the central area of the High Peak which incorporates Hayfield, New Mills and Whaley Bridge.
Chapel-en-le-Frith is not part of the Local Plan because a separate document outlining future plans for development in the town is being put together by Chapel Vision.
Sites on Hardwick Square South, Dukes Drive, the former Harpur Hill college campus and Ashbourne Road in Buxton are among the locations considered suitable for development while in the central area, preferred options include Hayfield Road, Hayfield; Laneside Road, New Mills and Wharf Road, Whaley Bridge.
The Preferred Option Local Plan will go before borough councillors on January 28, 2013 and if agreed, will be consulted upon during February/March.
To see the options, visit www.highpeak.gov.uk.