​Green fields in Derbyshire are due to be built on ahead of industrial sites

​Green fields in Derbyshire are due to be built on ahead of industrial sites in Derby, to the disappointment of councillors.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6:17 pm

​Members of Amber Valley Borough Council have been increasingly opposed to helping the city out with providing adequate land for housing.

Derby has a range of large former industrial sites which have been vacant for years and not developed, largely due to the huge cost of doing so for any interested firms, with profits likely to be much lower after factoring in the price of remediation.

The city council says it has a finite and reducing number of potential housing sites “until such a time as the city boundary is expanded”.

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The issue was debated at Amber Vallley's planning meeting

Councillors expressed their disquiet about Derby’s contribution to housing sites as they approved plans for 600 homes and a new primary on the city’s outskirts.

The new development will be built off Radbourne Lane in Mackworth, stretching from the well-known water tower up to Ashbourne Road.

Amber Valley Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plans, from Miller Homes and Redrow Homes, this week.

Council officers argued that the 600-home development, which would include 180 affordable homes, would provide significant public benefits and would help both Derby and Amber Valley meet their housing needs.

The Derbyshire Times has launched a campaign to protect the county's green spaces

Rob Duckworth, the borough council’s principal planning officer, said Amber Valley had a duty to cooperate with Derby to help it meet its unmet housing needs.

Councillors debated last week that they were, at best, disgruntled at this policy and wished not to continue with it, especially if it meant homes were built on sites which they would rather were left free of development.

Mr Duckworth said that the site was ideal, saying: “There is a lot of benefit for Amber Valley and for Derby on this.

“I would suggest that this assists in the reduction of other green field developments in and around the vicinity, simply because it is taking a huge chunk of any housing required, sticking right on the edge of Derby, which is a fantastic place for it.

“It is unfortunate that it is greenfield, but there couldn’t really be any better place, when it is meeting both Amber Valley’s targets and Derby’s targets as well.

“We are not obligated to take Derby’s supply but we do have a duty to cooperate.

“With various local planning authorities there has to be this duty to cooperate and because Derby literally hasn’t got the land available for their anticipated and required growth, they have asked all neighbouring local authorities to take some of their burden and, where, possible, those neighbouring authorities have.

“We can turn them away but in this instance we feel the public benefit of this and the exceptional location of it, it would seem rather unpragmatic to refuse it just on the basis that we are not obligated to take the housing.

Cllr Jane Orton, the area’s ward member, said: “My biggest concern is that this was green fields growing crops and I’d like everybody to be mindful of the fact that if we keep building on our green fields, where we grow our food, we as a nation are going to start becoming short of food.

“This is definitely not something I’d like to think is going to be happening across my ward, because that would be acres of lost food production.”

She said residents have got behind the project, after feeling it was inevitable.

Cllr Orton said: “I think now, in future, we don’t really have to be taking Derby’s houses, so I am hoping this is one of the last times we are going to be bringing something to the planning board saying we are having to take them for Derby.

“I don’t really see there is going to be a need and I really think they need to start taking their own houses and building on their brownfield sites.”

Cllr Dave Wells said: “There are lots of positives with this proposal. It will provide new homes for 600 families, which is great. We keep saying we need new homes in the right places and 30 per cent of these will be affordable.

“Whether they are in the right place I am not so clear. Like Cllr Orton, I have misgivings about them being on a greenfield site, but at least the site is not green belt.”

Cllr Wells asked for an informative to be attached to the application approval formally advising the developer to ensure they consider renewable energy, enhanced insulation and low carbon energy uses on the site, in line with the council’s aim to combat climate change – which was approved.

A spokesperson for Derby City Council said: The councils work under a duty to cooperate, which means working together to try to find sites for the growth irrespective of administrative boundaries.

“This was enhanced with a signed memorandum of understanding where the housing market area authorities have agreed to work proactively to meet the overall housing needs.

“For the previous round of local plans, which extend to 2028, the Derby ‘need’ was 16,000 houses of which 5,500 was accommodated in Amber Valley and South Derbyshire under the duty to cooperate.

“Until such a time as the city boundary is expanded, we have a finite and ever reducing number of viable brownfield sites to bring forward to meet Derby’s future housing needs.

For future site allocations, a similar approach is needed to deliver sustainable housing developments.

“The duty to cooperate and plan without formal boundaries to meet growth and need should be the result of that.