Derbyshire quarry homes plan hits the rocks after building firm's collapse

The long-awaited redevelopment of a Derbyshire quarry has hit the rocks after the firm carrying out the works collapsed.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:07 am

After 20 years, work to develop Cawdor Quarry into nearly 500 homes, on the western outskirts of Matlock, was approved in June 2018 and the construction of the first properties started in August 2019.

This started the process of bringing the site, derelict since the 1950s, back into use and away from links to anti-social behaviour – also lessening the need for homes on greenfield land.

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Alfreton company Wildgoose Construction was due to start work on Spa Lofts, a complex of 24 apartments making up the third phase of the Matlock Spa estate, planned for the site of Cawdor quarry.

However, Wildgoose Construction, which had been celebrating its 125-year of business, collapsed earlier this month, leaving the quarry development in limbo.

Now councillors in the area hope the site owner, Groveholt Ltd, finds a new firm to finish the project quickly so that the unfinished development does not become an “eyesore”.

It was already going to take until 2032 to complete the extensive Cawdor Quarry development and work halting on the site for an indefinite period may push this further back.

Cllr Colin Swindell, whose ward covers part of the quarry site, said: “I hope Groveholt finds someone and gets it all moving and things carry on.

“I’ve never been against the building on the quarry, it was always against the building at the end towards Snitterton Field, so I am not going to sit here and yell that I am delighted that it is not going ahead.

“Some people would be like ‘wahey, great, that puts an end to it ‘, not at all, the development of the brownfield was a great thing and takes the pressure off finding other sites in the Local Plan which would involve more development on green fields.

“We knew it (the quarry) was an ideal place for development.

“I am hopeful that the rest of it will carry on and go ahead and Groveholt will find someone, but obviously it is sad news for Wildgoose and their employees.

“I wouldn’t like to see it (the development) stop and for it to be an eyesore on the landscape now with a half-built development.

“If it means that the greenfield won’t get built on then that would be a bonus, but I wouldn’t like to see the rest of it come to a halt now that work has begun, because then you have got a development that looks a bit of a mess.”

Five homes in the scheme would be built on Snitterton Field, next to the quarry, as part of the overall project, while other land would be managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Cllr Steve Wain, whose ward covers most of the development site, off Matlock Spa Road, said he was “disappointed” to see the project stop and that it was “unfortunate” that Wildgoose, “a really historic and established business” went under.

He said: “I’m obviously keen to see the site owners try and locate another developer and as a town we are looking for the continued development and the right houses being built in the right places. This is a brownfield site and already has planning permission so it is ideal.

“They’ve built these blocks of flats at the entrance to the quarry and have started to develop it through but I can’t comment on what they will proceed to do. I would have thought they will have to go and talk with another developer.

“There is a figure of five-years of housing which needs to be supplied in each area and we are keen to see brownfield sites developed which will ease the pressure on greenfield sites.

“As you know, there is a greenfield site up on the top of Matlock (The Wolds) which is highly contentious and has raised some serious concerns throughout the community.”

The Wolds plans, from William Davis Limited, would see 423 homes built on land to the north of the town, close to Highfields School, off Pinewood Road, Gritstone Road and Sandy Lane.

Residents and officials have raised concerns over flooding, biodiversity, traffic and pressure on schools and health services.

A spokesperson for the district council said: “Although the loss of a developer on a key site such as Cawdor Quarry is regrettable the district council will continue to work with the landowners to ensure that the development of the site is not unduly affected by these unfortunate circumstances.”

A spokesperson for Interpath Advisory, the appointed administrators for Wildgoose Construction, said: “I can confirm that work at Cawdor Quarry did cease prior to the appointment of the joint administrators, with the client being notified in advance to give them appropriate notice to source alternative contractors to continue the project.

“Wildgoose Construction will be wound-down by the joint administrators.”

Records on Companies House shows that Groveholt Ltd filed three “registrations of charge” (a charge is the security a company gives for a loan) relating to housing at Cawdor Quarry on October 26, eight days before it was announced that Wildgoose was going into administration.

In late July, Wildgoose had been awarded a further £4.5 million contract for the next phase of the Cawdor Quarry development, after successful completion of the first £11 million phase.

During the 2018 approval of the scheme after 20 years of planning, the development was hailed as a scheme for the “greater good of Matlock” and a “momentous event”.

However, concerns were raised about the lack of affordable housing, omitted due to the cost of developing the site.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has attempted to contact Groveholt Ltd for comment.