Derbyshire homes plan ‘would harm stunning heritage site’

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

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South Wingfield campaigners flocked to the opening of a public inquiry in their fight to save the setting of a local landmark which has been earmarked for housing.

Amber Valley Borough Council has gone head to head with Gladman Developments, who have appealed the council’s rejection of its planning application for 70 houses on greenfield land around Wingfield Manor, on Inns Lane.

South Wingfield Action Group has been campaigning for more than a year to protect the listed building, and agree with the council that the new development would dramatically change the character of the area.

Jonathan Mitchell, advocate for the borough council, told the inquiry at Ripley Town Hall on Tuesday: “The appellant (Gladman) is not looking at the monument and Grade I listed manor as notable and outstanding. The manor is stunning and the dwellings would be a modern intrusion to a well-preserved village. It would create an urban edge which is unrelated to the medieval linear ridge settlement.”

Paul Wilson, council planning officer, added: “The appellant could not have chosen a worse location in the whole of the village.”

James Howlett, representative for South Wingfield Action Group, agreed Wingfield Manor was a national treasure. He said: “The manor is a heritage site and an absolute asset. The substantial harm is sufficient to outweigh any benefits outlined by the development firm.

“We question if the appeal site is sustainable for development. It doesn’t appear so and we refute the village has the right network or facilities.

“The road network is already inadequate due to on-street parking and congestion and it would only get worse.”

Martin Carter, barrister for Gladman, refuted claims the site would not be beneficial. He said: “The appeal scheme to secure the sustainable development has no good reason to be withheld.

“The council has provided no robust reason as to why the site should not go ahead, which is furthermore highlighted by the face that the council’s draft core strategy has been withdrawn. The council cannot supply the originally suggested five-year plan for housing. At a realistic estimate they could probably only offer around 3.5 years of supply, which is a significant shortfall, and renders the Amber Valley Local Plan as out of date. The appeal should be allowed.

“South Wingfield is a suitable location for housing growth, education, healthcare and other facilities such as transport. We do not believe the site would cause anything more than limited landscape issues. The manor and conservation area’s value is of the highest significance. But the development would not interrupt the key view.”

The inquiry is scheduled to last six days.