Controversial 301 Chesterfield homes on green fields approved following heated debate

Chesterfield Borough Council's Planning Committee had previously deferred the decision over climate change concerns.

By Christina Massey
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 5:43 pm

More than 300 homes will be built on land near Chesterfield, after a developer who was previously scolded for using gas boilers rather than a more energy efficient alternative argued environmentally-friendly technology was ‘not quite there’.

The application by Tilia Homes Ltd for 301 properties on the site off Linacre Road, Holme Hall, was approved in a meeting of Chesterfield Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Friday (July 22).

The decision had been deferred from a meeting in June after councillors flatly refused to move it for approval due to climate change concerns.

The application by Tilia Homes Ltd for 301 properties on the site off Linacre Road, Holme Hall, was approved in a meeting of Chesterfield Borough Council’s Planning Committee

Jack Sharpe, Planning Director for Tilia Homes, stated the firm did not have enough faith in the current alternative heat sources to commit to using them over traditional gas boilers.

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He said : “At the moment the Government and industry really don’t know what the optimised solution is.

“They’re setting a target for 2025 for future homes to do away with gas boilers and there is lots of other technology being discussed.

Linacre Road homes plan.More than 300 homes will be built on land near Chesterfield, after a developer who was previously scolded for using gas boilers rather than a more energy efficient alternative argued environmentally-friendly technology was ‘not quite there’.

“At this stage we feel the technology is not quite there.

“The industry needs to do a lot of work to catch up and find the best solution, because ultimately we don’t to push it as a legacy issue to the new residents.”

He said the company was considering heat pumps as an alternative to gas boilers, but pointed out they have ‘pros and cons’.

“Heat output is not the same as gas, so radiators are required to be two and a half times the size to give generally the same heat for the homes,” Mr Sharpe explained, adding that taking into account the cost of living crisis, electricity was currently five times the price of gas.

He stated heat pumps also required the installation of a fan, which had to run constantly and could be potentially noisy.

Mr Sharpe said the gas boilers they were planning on using were hydrogen compatible, providing future-proofing, and commented that over the six to seven year building period of the development the company would continue to assess the benefits of new technology as it became available.

Councillor Peter Barr commented that he was pleased to hear the boilers were hydrogen compatible, stating: “I think what I’ve heard today is a good move in the right direction.”

Council documents reveal the application has received 49 letters of objection, with many nearby residents concerned about the loss of green space and its impact on wildlife and the mental health of residents.

Fiona Maddock said the site should be classed as green belt.

"This section of land is home to mature trees, including oaks. mature shrub, hedgerows and grassland,” she said.

"There is an increasing decline of this habitat which is impacting on the wildlife that lives there and is vital to them. If more hedgerows are taken away, we will see an even further decline on species of birds, bats, insects and animals.

“301 homes is a very large number of houses and the number of people that would live in these properties we would expect that to be double the number of houses and more. As mentioned in other objections, the amount of traffic and parking problems will be huge as will the pollution.”

In response to members’ previous concerns about the number of trees being removed from the site, senior planner Helen Frith stated: “The site topography, the engineering works required to provide the housing and ground condition work required to address the former coal mining activity has made the tree removal necessary.”

She explained that the site contained no protected trees, and that the developer had committed to planting 118 new trees and keeping a 15-metre ‘buffer zone’ of vegetation around the development.

Ms Frith also pointed out that the developer was contributing £360,000 towards the creation and management of a habitat on council-controlled land nearby.

The development includes 18 per cent affordable housing and Tilia Homes has enlarged some of the affordable homes in response to further concerns previously made by councillors.

The development was approved unanimously.