Green light for ‘worst’ Derbyshire homes development – despite safety fears

Twice-rejected housing plans – dubbed the “worst” a Derbyshire council leader had ever seen, due to the potential public safety risks - have been approved at appeal.
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Government planning inspector Hannah Ellison has overturned plans for 15 houses off Biggin View in Hulland Ward after they were rejected by Derbyshire Dales District Council. The council had rejected the plans in September 2022 and March 2023, citing public safety issues – particularly for young children – on both occasions.

However, Ms Ellison writes: “I see no reason why the safety of all road users would be unacceptably compromised by the proposal. The proposed access to the appeal site would not give rise to an unacceptable impact on highway safety.”

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In March, Cllr David Hughes said: “It is disgraceful for the developer to bring the application back, it shows complete contempt for the committee and complete contempt for the planning process.”

A blueprint of how the development might look. Image: Matthew Montague ArchitectsA blueprint of how the development might look. Image: Matthew Montague Architects
A blueprint of how the development might look. Image: Matthew Montague Architects

He and other councillors had been warned by the authority’s head of planning, Chris Whitmore, that rejection of the plans on highways safety grounds was not a “reasonable reason”, with highways officials finding the route viable for a car and a HGV to pass at the same time.

The access route for the new addition of 15 houses onto an existing new series of houses would see vehicles and construction traffic driving inches from the windows of homes. Highways officials are content that the route would be safe for use as a road, instead of a shared driveway, but would be unadoptable due to its restricted width – 5.5 metres. Council officials said the windows of one property would extend 10cm into the new roadway if they were opened.

Ms Ellison writes: “Pedestrians and other road users would only be crossing the shared space for a very short stretch and motorists would be able to see any oncoming road users given its straight alignment.

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“There would be scope at the reserved matters stage to not only ensure that satisfactory visibility along the approach from the appeal development could be achieved, but to also ensure the route could be appropriately designed, be that a change in level and/or surface material or other features, so as motorists approaching the shared space from within the development would be well aware of it and adjust their driving accordingly

“I note that there is generous space for pedestrians and other road users to navigate around a parked vehicle and for another vehicle to pass concurrently. I am however aware that a bay window associated with the ground floor of No 27 slightly overhangs the carriageway. Be that as it may, the opened window would not interfere with passing vehicles which, in reality, would be travelling a distance from the edge of the carriageway, as is likely currently experienced.

“Even in the instance where the opened window and a parked vehicle may prevent two vehicles from passing one another, at the same time that a pedestrian or other road user was traversing the carriageway, this give way arrangement is commonplace within built-up residential areas such as this. The opened window and its perceived narrowing effect on the carriageway would further deter high vehicle speeds. It would not make the access to the appeal site any more constrained or difficult for drivers or unsafe for other road users.”