Developer’s fury as Chesterfield council refuses plans to create new apartments in town centre

A developer has told of his anger after Chesterfield Borough Council refused plans to turn most of a prominent town centre building into apartments.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 2:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 2:40 pm

On Tuesday, the council turned down ALB Group’s planning application to create 36 new homes in the vacant first and second floors of Burlington House on Burlington Street.

The authority said it refused planning permission ‘due to the poor quality of the accommodation that has been proposed’ – and said it would ‘welcome any revised plans for the site to bring this building back into use in a way which enhances the town centre and meets the requirements set out in our Local Plan’.

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This computer generated image, released last year, showed how Burlington House would look with apartments on the upper floors and commercial businesses continuing to operate on the ground floor.

Arran Bailey, managing director of ALB Group, told the Derbyshire Times: “I am outraged that planning has been refused.

“We are currently in talks with our architect and solicitors for an appeal.”

Mr Bailey said his company ‘really struggled’ with the council prior to the application being refused.

He told how the authority was given ‘numerous extensions’ and ‘took weeks to come back to us, with us going back each time within 48 hours’.

“After submitting a fresh set of plans on July 2, we waited 25 days for a response only to be refused the next working day,” he added.

“We asked to take the application to planning committee only to be refused as no objections were received.”

He said the council told his company the application ‘could be dealt with by delegated powers’ and that the authority could refuse it without it going to the planning committee.

“I think this is a failed system,” he added.

“After doing 1,400 units of this nature across the UK, I have never come across this – and the time it takes to get a decision is shocking when we keep seeing headlines about planning permission being made easier and quicker.

“It is a joke.

“I feel sorry for smaller developers that do one site at a time.

“I suppose we are lucky we have multiple sites at a time otherwise we would have no other option to make staff redundant and go bankrupt.”

In response, a council spokesperson told the Derbyshire Times: “While the redevelopment of the building would bring it back in to use, the council has refused planning permission due to the poor quality of the accommodation that has been proposed, such as failure to meet minimum space requirements, ensure adequate access to light and provision of outdoor space for occupants to use. The proposals failed to meet the requirements of the council’s Local Plan.

“Negotiations between the council and the applicant have taken place and although improvements to the application have been made, these were still not considered sufficient to overcome the fundamental concerns raised.

“We would welcome any revised plans for the site to bring this building back into use in a way which enhances the town centre and meets the requirements set out in our Local Plan.

“Therefore, further advice has been given to the applicant and the council is happy to engage further with them on any revised scheme.”

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