“Severe harm” could be caused if changes to multi-million road improvements around the approved new 1,800-house village in Clowne are not made, says the county council.
Ground-breaking plans to build an entire new village north of Clowne were approved by Bolsover District Council on Tuesday, June 26 but may now be called-in for further scrutiny by the Secretary of State – which could lead to a public inquiry.
This is due to the project being built on green belt land and not being included in the current Local Plan – a blueprint for future development.
The landmark scheme from Swanwick firm Waystone Ltd would also include a new 360-space primary school; retirement village; hotel; restaurant; health and care centre and around 60 acres of employment space – creating 1,737 jobs.
Around 1,000 objections were lodged against the application by residents.
However, approval for the 346-acre project was granted pending the signing off of improvements to the area’s highways and infrastructure.
This would include £3.4 million to be spent on changes to the notorious and over-capacity Treble Bob roundabout on the A616/Chesterfield Road, and Junction 30 of the M1.
However, Derbyshire County Council’s highways chief Mike Ashworth wrote to the district council to say that these schemes must be finalised before planning permission is approved, fearing for the impact on the area’s roads.
He said: “Further submissions need to be made by the applicant’s consultants to illustrate how the proposed junction improvement solution at Treble Bob can be designed, installed and operated without causing severe harm to the local highway network – and similarly, working with Highways England in respect of Junction 30 of the M1.
“The timescales over which the financial contributions are proposed to come forward will result in the immediate highway network having to cope with the increased traffic volumes from the development with little or no interim mitigation confirmed.
“The proposed works to Treble Bob and Junction 30 will not solve the long term highways issues for Clowne, nor will the proposed contribution of £3.4 million cover the costs of mitigating the impacts of development on the wider highway network.
“In the interests of the safe and sustainable development of the site, it is strongly recommended the above issues form part of ongoing work carried out by the local planning authority and it is extremely important they are addressed before planning permission is granted.”
In convincing developers to cough up the money for road improvements and the £5.8 million for a new primary school, district council officers allowed plans to build 10 per cent affordable housing to be reduced.
Typically, housing developments of 10-15 houses and above are expected to have 30 per cent affordable housing – houses offered lower than the market value.
This had already been lowered to 10 per cent and has now been dropped to an overall five per cent – 90 out of the 1,800 houses.
County councillor for Clowne, Cllr Anne Western, said that the application should be called back for scrutiny by the Secretary of State.
She said: “I am highly concerned that the highways concerns of the county council have not been properly represented.
“The impact of traffic created by the scheme has not been addressed.
“I think it needs to be called in and go to public inquiry – there is a lot of local concern about the process and I think that that would help restore public confidence.
“There has been a lot of promise about this, that, and the other, but if the scheme is not viable if more is spent on highways infrastructure improvements then the scheme itself cannot possibly be called sustainable – if it is viable then the developer would be able to fulfil its infrastructure improvement commitments.”
Bolsover District Council was named and shamed earlier this year for not having an up-to-date Local Plan, with its last being signed off in 2000 – its fresh revision is currently going through the process of being approved.
The Clowne Garden Village project does not slot into the 2000 Local Plan, because it falls outside the settlement boundary of Clowne and some 50 acres of the scheme would be in protected green belt land.
It is these two transgressions which could see the scheme called-in by government inspectors and further critiqued at public inquiry.
District council officers say that the project caters for much of the housing need for the next 15 years.
The project would seek to build 1,000 of the houses by 2033, with the remaining 800 after 2033.
District council officers felt that the scheme’s positives outweighed its negatives.
In a report, they stated: “It is considered that the proposed development will have an impact on the local area but the most significant of these potentially adverse impacts could be mitigated for by appropriate planning conditions and contributions to local infrastructure.
“However, even with appropriate mitigation, it is acknowledged that over the next fifteen years, these proposals will change the character and appearance of the town and there are potential impacts on the road network within the town centre and beyond that which will not be resolved by granting planning permission for the current application.
“In these respects, the negative impacts of the proposed development are considered to be capable of being offset and outweighed by the wider public benefits of the delivery of a once and for all solution for the Treble Bob roundabout and a new primary school that cannot be achieved by any other alternative development proposal alongside the other public benefits that would be achieved by granting permission for the current application.
“These conclusions also underpin the reason why it is considered there are very special circumstances that justify granting planning permission for inappropriate development in the Green Belt in this case.”
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service