'People have a voice and must use it': How determined group of Chesterfield residents are fighting 500-home green fields development

Standing amid the fields, woodland and hedgerows, looking at distant Chesterfield, it is difficult to imagine the future planned out by developers for this green haven.

Monday, 28th February 2022, 3:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 12:58 pm

Close to Upper Newbold, Cutthorpe and Dunston, the area of green fields on the edge of the borough is threatened by a 500-home development which residents fear will help to create an urban ‘conurbation’.

Combined with adjoining housing developments, the wider area off Dunston Road could soon be ‘swamped’ by almost 1,000 houses.

A determined group of residents have vowed they will not allow this to happen, and since last summer have been campaigning against the latest plans by William Davis Homes.

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Members of the Dunston Grange Residents Action Group who are fighting plans for 500 homes near Chesterfield. Picture are Andrea and David Watwood, Vicky and Michael Noble and Tony Darwent.

They have created a Facebook page, organised a petition, stuck up posters and door-knocked across the neighbourhood to alert other people to the development, which they say will change their way of life.

Dunston Grange Residents Action Group spokesperson David Watwood said: “At first people weren’t even aware it was happening, so we set about changing that.

"Now 99 per cent of people are opposed to it.”

Fellow resident Vicky Noble admitted she has met people who say there is no point opposing the development because ‘it is going to happen anyway’.

"We say it doesn’t have to,” Vicky said. “People do have a voice and they must use it.”

Key to the campaign has been encouraging residents to write letters of objection – and making it easier for them to do so.

Almost 500 letters opposing the plans have now been sent to Chesterfield Borough Council, while nearly 400 people have signed the group’s petition.

David said it was a battle to save green space – both farmland and recreational areas for people to walk dogs, ride horses and enjoy.

"They are trying to steal this beautiful landscape away from us, even though there are so many brownfield areas in Chesterfield crying out for development.

"Surely it is preferable to make brownfield sites better than destroy these green spaces?”

A William Davis Homes spokesperson said the site had been allocated for development as part of the Chesterfield Borough Local Plan, and the proposals are a result of that allocation.

However, David’s wife Andrea describes the plans as ‘development by stealth’ – close by are the 106-home Strata Development and the Skylarks site of 300 homes.

"Flooding is also a major issue,” she said. “Dunston Lane and Dunston Road are flooding since the other two developments began.

"They are not putting in the right infrastructure.”

Group members say 1,000 new homes at the various developments will mean 2,000 cars and extra strain on already stretched services.

David describes Dunston Road as a ‘country road’ which is already dangerous, and can only become worse.

Although William Davis Homes has promised a ‘significant open space’ for the site, the action group says loss of wildlife habitat is a key motivation for them.

And they are not alone in voicing fears about the environmental impact.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust believes the fields to be a very sensitive wildlife area.

The trust’s biodiversity planning officer, Libby Duggan-Jones said in her report that it was clear the plans ‘will result in the loss of areas of substantive value’.

To sign the petition, visit https://chng.it/9PGktsDf