Council to debate planning blueprint which leaves two Derbyshire Green Belt sites open to development

Councillors must decide whether to adopt a Local Plan which puts two Green Belt sites forward for future housing, in a meeting next week.
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North East Derbyshire District Council leaders say they are ‘disappointed’ that their attempts to remove the sites in Dronfield and Killamarsh from the draft Local Plan were unsuccessful, however campaigners claim more could have been done to protect them.

The Conservative administration inherited the draft when they came to power in May 2019 and examination into the plan was paused while they tried to alter the housing allocation with the Secretary of State.

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Leader Councillor Alex Dale said: “We’ve had some successes, campaigning for the reduction of housing allocations in the Green Belt around Dronfield and Coal Aston for example from 860 homes first proposed in 2017, to 200 now and also having a site of 400 houses south of Eckington removed from the plan.”

North East Derbyshire District Council headquartersNorth East Derbyshire District Council headquarters
North East Derbyshire District Council headquarters

The leadership was unsuccessful in it’s efforts to reclaim the remaining two sites however.

Coun Dale continued: “I’m really disappointed the Secretary of State is unable to intervene but the challenges in this process and in our area aren’t all within our control.”

But fellow district councillor Ross Shipman claims the council was unrealistic in its approach to situation.

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He said: “It’s like buying a car with no wheels, then taking it to have it’s MOT and moaning that the previous owner didn’t put wheels on it.”

The Derbyshire Times is campaigning against inappropriate development on green field sitesThe Derbyshire Times is campaigning against inappropriate development on green field sites
The Derbyshire Times is campaigning against inappropriate development on green field sites

Sarah Housden, of the Planning Inspectorate, who was conducting the examination of the draft, sent a letter to the authority on August 2, 2019, giving them three options – withdraw the entire plan, conduct a review of the current site allocations or continue with it as it was.

The authority took time to seek and legal advice and conduct research into the consequences of all three options before responding to the inspector on February 27, 2020, instructing her to continue with the plan as it was.

Addressing the leadership, Coun Shipman said: “You signed a letter to the inspector saying ‘continue with no amendments to it’ so surely at that point you are taking responsibility for that?”

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Cabinet member for planning Councillor Charlotte Cupit said the council ultimately chose not to go ahead with the option to review site allocations as it believed that would lead to the ultimate withdrawal of the entire draft plan.

“The cost of not having a plan is you start again, you go back to the beginning,” Coun Cupit said.

“You would have to reset the clock – the plan as it stands goes from 2014.”

She added that even if this was the case, the Green Belt sites would still be at risk because developers could argue that they had previously been part of the draft Local Plan.

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Coun Cupit said North East Derbyshire has been without a Local Plan for ten years and as a result it has had around 1,000 houses of speculative development.

North East Derbyshire District Council’s Full Council will debate whether to adopt the draft Local Plan in a meeting on Monday, November 29.