Dozens of people protest about plan to build new homes in Derbyshire countryside

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The number of protesters was so great at an Amber Valley planning meeting that they breached fire safety risks.

Around 70 members of the public turned up to speak out against plans to build 35 houses in Wessington Lane, South Wingfield.

However, after squeezing into the main chamber in Ripley Town Hall, some protesters were asked to leave because their number was causing a health and safety hazard.

Protesters refused to leave the chamber, commenting ‘this is a democracy, we should be able to hear what decisions are made’ and ‘get a bigger room, you need to fit in all of us’.

As a result, four councillors, who were not members of the planning board but were attending to speak on some of the meeting’s applications, were asked if they would leave the main chamber instead.

Chairing the meeting, Councllor Norman Bull, said the situation was ‘a bit unforeseen’.

In the end, councillors voted to defer the vote on the 35 South Wingfield homes – pitched by Alfreton firm Wildgoose Homes – due to a perceived lack of information available to make a decision.

Ahead of the meeting, 122 objection letters had been submitted to the borough council over the plans, claiming that the development would “ruin the rural feel” of the village and heavily impact on an already-strained road network.

Following the decision to defer, the chamber then almost emptied, with residents dismayed that they had all made the effort to come to the meeting.

Another plan which was due to be decided was a controversial application to turn an historic pub into a house, but this was withdrawn.

Planning officers had recommended that the plans, for the Yew Tree Inn in Holloway, should be refused.

This comes after 823 residents filed objections, stating that it must stay in as a community facility.

The historic venue, built in 1839, lies a few hundred metres from Florence Nightingale’s childhood home at Lea Hurst. It has close ties with her estate.

Mr and Mrs C A Westnedge, who own and live in the pub, which has been closed for more than a decade, have tried to turn the venue into a house twice. The first attempt in 2011 was refused by the council at appeal, and now the second attempt has been sent back to the drawing board.