Council objects to huge Derbyshire housing development after new flood assessment

Derbyshire County Council has lodged a formal objection to controversial plans for a huge new housing development, saying initial assessments of potential flood risks are no longer valid.

By Ed Dingwall
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 8:33 pm
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 7:33 am

Critics of the plan to build hundreds of homes on the site known as the Wolds, off Gritstone Road, have been raising concerns for years over the potential for additional surface water run-off and additional strain on Matlock’s creaking sewers.

They now appear vindicated after the county’s flood management team received updated assessments from Severn Trent Water (STW).

In a statement submitted to Derbyshire Dales District Council, county project engineer Chris Rogers said: “Current proposed surface water discharges exceed the rates advised as acceptable by STW, and flows from outside the catchment are proposed to be formally directed to the surface sewer network.

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The Wolds site, off Gritstone Road, is slated for development into more than 300 homes, shops and public space.

"We are recommending an objection until such a time that the applicant and STW agree an acceptable means of disposal of surface water to the public surface water sewer.”

Local environmental expert Steve Martin welcomed the move, saying: “Based on a growing number of serious objections there is now an undeniable case for taking this site permanently out of the Local Plan.

“It radically enhances the risk of further flooding risks to the town if development is permitted on this site.”

He added: “The Wolds makes a significant contribution to soaking up water and carbon dioxide and hence contributing to climate mitigation and adaptation.”

The news comes at a possible crunch moment for the project, with a new viability appraisal published in March suggesting the scheme could now include around half the amount of affordable homes required by district council policy, though it suggests the applicant could also make a £4.5million contribution to the council for local infrastructure.

A report from the district also published last month pushed the start date for the ten-year construction scheme back to 2026-27 – extending the pain of the site’s neighbours without any debate.

Julie Atkin, of the Wolds Action Group, said: “The firm objection to the planning application from lead local flood team casts even more serious doubt on whether the proposals are safe or viable.

“So far, there has been no public consultation about whether the site should remain in the Local Plan or not. This situation with the Wolds began 2013. If construction lasts until 2037, its neighbours will have been living with this threat for more than 20 years.”

She added: “This is a very serious and distressing situation for residents who have lived with the threat of this for many years, and some have been unable to sell their houses and move on. Life is on hold. They are affected by planning blight.”

A spokesperson for developer William Davis Homes said: “In recognition of the historic issues which affect lower lying parts of Matlock in times of heavy storms, our intention has always been to design the site to accommodate a significant amount of the storm water generated upstream – improving what happens currently when water runs off the fields.

“This principle is not altered in our revised plans, which address the amended storm water discharge rate. We propose to expand capacity so that the site can take and store a greater volume of storm water.”

They added: “We have been working constructively with expert consultants employed by Derbyshire Dales District Council, to advise on the underlying viability of the proposed scheme.

"This includes establishing a required planning gain package (S106 contributions) which is directly related and fair in scale and type, to make the development acceptable in planning terms.”