Defiant Derbyshire council remains unfazed by campaigner's bid to halt massive housing planning application

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A campaigner who has been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of a massive residential planning application says he has written to the Secretary of State to consider the progress of the proposed Clowne Garden Village scheme.

However, Bolsover District Council is confidently continuing to examine Waystone Ltd’s planning application for the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme for 1,800 properties with 24 hectares of greenfield land for mixed-development and employment, as well as community and commercial facilities between Clowne and Barlborough.

Campaigner Dom Webb has claimed when an original application was submitted after 2017 it did not match the council’s Local Plan at that time and after the application was delayed it was then allegedly included prejudicially in the subsequent 2020 Local Plan which would support its progress.

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Bolsover District Council has, however, provided comprehensive explanations and a timeline explaining that the proposed development has always been part of the Local Plan since 2016 and it has insisted that consideration of the planning application will continue.

The proposed Clowne Garden Village SiteThe proposed Clowne Garden Village Site
The proposed Clowne Garden Village Site

Mr Webb has now stated: “A letter to the Secretary of State has been sent asking that they exercise their powers to force the removal of the application under Article 40, Section 13a of The Town and Country Planning Development Management Procedure Order 2015.”

He claims the planning application process is allegedly unlawful because he claims the original planning application allegedly preceded subsequent changes to latterly include it in the current 2020 Local Plan.

Sites potentially allocated for housing in local authorities’ Local Plans can be deemed favourable locations for subsequent planning applications and proposed developments.

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Mr Webb has also claimed the release of Green Belt land from preservation to allow for the development was also allegedly unlawful because he claims there were no special circumstances to do this and this land should be returned to Green Belt protection.

Clowne Garden Village Housing Scheme ProtestorsClowne Garden Village Housing Scheme Protestors
Clowne Garden Village Housing Scheme Protestors

The council has explained that it has to meet housing and affordable housing targets because of growing demand and nationwide shortages and there is a strategy to expand Clowne and this particular site could involve a progressive 20-year long process.

It has also stated that following a robust review “exceptional circumstances” were cited legally allowing the removal of this area from Green Belt preservation.

Mr Webb, as a prospective Judicial Review claimant, wrote to Bolsover District Council, as a prospective defendant, in October, 2023, arguing that if the council allowed the planning application to move forward it would allegedly be doing so unlawfully but this could be avoided if the council rejected the application within 21 days of his dated correspondence from October 18, 2023.

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However, the unfazed council confirmed in November, 2023, that it is continuing to consider the proposed housing development between the two Derbyshire villages, north of Clowne including part of the village centre off Hickinwood Lane.

Bolsover District Council stated applicants Waystone hosted a consultation for the council with the authority’s Local Plan in mind as long ago as late 2014 and the proposed Clowne Garden Village featured as a suggested strategic site option in a consultation exercise on its Local Plan for Bolsover district as long ago as late 2015.

The council added that its planning committee had originally resolved to approve the application in June 2018, but the council stated that following delays with legal agreements and the Covid-19 pandemic reports needed to be updated and the application is still under consideration.

Bolsover District Council has also stated the Clowne Garden Village plans were also selected as a preferred strategic site option for the Local Plan for Bolsover District in February, 2016, and it also featured as a strategic site allocation in the Local Plan with a consultation, in May, 2018, and it was submitted to the Secretary of State in August, 2018, for an examination by the Local Plan Inspector.

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In addition, The Clowne Garden Village Strategic Site Allocation was found to be sound and acceptable within the Local Plan Inspector’s Report published in January, 2020, into the examination of the Local Plan for Bolsover district, according to the council.

Bolsover District Council added that Clowne Garden Village properly featured as a strategic site allocation in the Local Plan for Bolsover district which was adopted in March, 2020.

Despite campaigner Dom Webb’s call for a Judicial Review into the lawfulness of the plans, based on claims surrounding the possible timing and influence of the scheme’s inclusion in the March, 2020 Local Plan, the council is continuing to consider the planning application and it has stressed that it has to strictly follow guidance and legislation when considering applications.

Should Mr Webb’s challenge to have the planning application removed for a Judicial Review into its lawfulness be allowed, any claim would be expected to be filed to the Planning Court which is part of the King’s Bench Division and is overseen by a Planning Liaison Judge.

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Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigners with residents from Clowne and Barlborough have raised concerns about the development’s possible impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, as well as fears about drainage, flooding and overcrowding.

Bolsover MP, Mark Fletcher, has also joined campaigners opposed to the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme claiming that it could increase the population of the area by nearly 50 per cent and that the amount of actual affordable housing it will provide will only be negligible.

The Conservative MP shares campaigners’ concerns, which are being fully considered by the Labour-led council, about the possible impact on the road network, the environment, flooding and the use of Green Belt land being freed-up for exempted-use.

Despite opposition to the housing plans, Waystone has claimed there is support for the scheme in terms of the potential for economic growth, facilities and jobs.

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A Bolsover District Council spokesperson said: “We are continuing to deal with the planning application in accordance with legislation and guidance and it will be submitted to a future planning committee for consideration.”