The Peak District National Park Authority has welcomed the Planning Inspectorate’s rejection of an appeal over the proposed redevelopment of a former cheese factory site in Hartington.
Chesterfield developers Cathelco had applied to build 39 houses, business units, a sports pitch, playground, allotments and car park on the former Dairy Crest site which closed in 2009.
The proposal was refused by the Authority’s planning committee in January 2012 as its scale would be out of keeping with Hartington and damaging to its landscape and character.
Planning Inspector Ian Jenkins upheld the Authority’s refusal after spending six days hearing evidence from witnesses, including many villagers who thought the scheme was too large and out of character with their community of just 155 homes.
Chair of the Authority’s planning committee Cllr Lesley Roberts said: “We welcome this decision and, while we and most villagers appreciate that some redevelopment needs to take place on that site, the scale and design needs to be reconsidered.”
Cllr Roberts also welcomed the Inspector’s rejection of Cathelco’s application for a full award of legal costs against the Authority. Costs could only be awarded if the Authority’s actions had been unreasonable, said the Inspector, and he did not accept that this was the case.
The Inspector concluded that Cathelco had not demonstrated that its proposal would amount to “exceptional circumstances necessary to justify major development in this national park. The scheme would not be in the public interest and would not fit with the patterns of sustainable development promoted by the [Local Development] Framework.”
In making his decision, he highlighted national statutory policy that: “Where there are conflicting desired outcomes in achieving National Park purposes, greater priority must be given to the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty, heritage and wildlife of the area, even at the cost of some socio-economic benefit.”
The 39 houses, which included six affordable homes, would establish a large group of dwellings out on a limb, away from the centre of Hartington, looking out of place and detrimental to the village character, he said. In his view, the level of development needed to fund the proposed community facilities and affordable homes was excessive.
He also highlighted a questionnaire answered by 75 per cent of villagers which indicated only minority support for most of the proposed community facilities as well as strong objections to the number and size of houses.