Council considers campaigner’s call for a judicial review into massive 1,800 housing development in Derbyshire village

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A campaigner opposed to a proposed massive housing development between two Derbyshire villages is calling for a judicial review into the plans unless the overseeing council planners refuse to reject the scheme.

Bolsover District Council is considering 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.

Many residents from Clowne and nearby Barlborough have raised concerns about the development’s impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, as well as fears about drainage, flooding and overcrowding.

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Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigner Dom Webb, as a prospective claimant, has also now written to the council, as a prospective defendant, demanding a judicial review.

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

Mr Webb has claimed that when the original planning application was submitted in 2017 it did not match the council’s Local Plan, and it was subsequently and allegedly prejudicial to the production of the subsequent Local Plan, and he has claimed that Green Belt land should not have been later released from preservation to allow for development.

He stated: “The application should have been rejected in December, 2017, as premature. In not doing so the defendant prejudiced the then Emerging Local Plan.”

Mr Webb claims in correspondence to the council that the application was prejudicial towards the Planning Inspectorate’s review of the Emerging Local Plan and towards the now adopted Local Plan introduced in March 2020.

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He added: “By allowing the application to move forward to determination the defendant is unlawfully allowing a premature planning application to proceed.”

Mr Webb believes and claims the original planning application is therefore unlawful because it is allegedly premature because it preceded subsequent changes to the current Local Plan and he claims in 2017 the original planning application was also not commensurate with the Local Plan of that time.

In addition, he has 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.

Council Planning Policy Manager Chris McKinney previously stated that the council has to meet housing and affordable housing targets because of growing demand and nationwide shortages and there is a strategy to expand Clowne but this particular site could involve a progressive 20-year long process.

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Despite residents’ complaints that the proposed site is also on greenfield land that had once included an area of Green Belt, Mr McKinney stated that following a robust review “exceptional circumstances” were cited allowing the removal of this area from Green Belt preservation.

Mr Webb has claimed that even if his argument – that the original planning application is allegedly premature – is overlooked, he also claims that a housing development with 1,800 homes exceeds the number approved by a Planning Inspector by at least 300 and therefore he claims the application is not viable.

The correspondence from Mr Webb to Bolsover District Council claims that if the council allows the planning application to move forward it will allegedly be doing so unlawfully but he claims this can be avoided if the council rejects the planning application within 21 days of his dated correspondence from October 18.

Bolsover District Council’s planning committee had originally resolved to approve the application in June 2018, but the council has stated that following delays with legal agreements and the Covid-19 pandemic reports needed to be updated and the application has again currently come under consideration.

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The Bolsover MP, Mark Fletcher, has joined campaigners opposed to the Clowne Garden Village residential scheme claiming that the scheme 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.

Mr Fletcher has also argued the scheme will also have an impact on the road network, and he shares campaigners’ fears for the environment, especially with flooding and the use of Green Belt land being freed-up for exempted-use.

He also feels the developers’ proposed financial contributions towards services to help mitigate an increased population are limited.

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

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Should Mr Webb’s challenge for a judicial review proceed into the lawfulness of the planning application, 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.

Bolsover District Council has been asked to provide a comment but at the time of publication the authority had still not responded.