Hundreds of planned new homes could be dropped from Derbyshire council’s blueprint for the area

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Several significant long-awaited housing developments could be dropped from a Derbyshire council’s future blueprint for the area.

Derbyshire Dales District Council is currently drawing together a new Local Plan to outline where housing could be built up until 2040.

There is an identified need for between 1,378 and 1,888 more homes to be built in the Dales over the next 16 years, the council details. However, it says there are already plans totalling 3,049 homes within its current housing blueprint – but none have planning permission yet.

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The council, ahead of a formal public consultation, writes: “Given this level of development is more than the future housing needs to 2040, choices will need to be made about which of these sites should be maintained in the forthcoming Local Plan.”

The proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above MatlockThe proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above Matlock
The proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above Matlock

Among the 3,049 homes on the council’s existing plan, that do not have planning permission, are 1,100 homes on the landmark Ashbourne Airfield site – a lynchpin of the district’s development blueprints for years. This scheme alone takes up the majority of the homes required in the Dales for the next 16 years.

In April last year, councillors begrudgingly rejected plans for more than 460 homes on the airfield site after major concerns from JCB and a “poor” design, in an aim to send a message that the Dales “will no longer accept mediocre housing development”. A £2.5 million roundabout to serve the airfield estate has already been built, using £1 million in public funding, built by Derbyshire County Council.

The council has also listed 430 homes off Gritstone Road, Matlock, which is the site known as the Wolds. Just over two weeks ago, councillors unanimously rejected plans for 423 homes on the Wolds with thousands of residents having petitioned against the scheme and more than 460 people wrote objection letters.

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That came after five years of campaigning and to-ing and fro-ing over flood concerns and a lack of detail on drainage, landscape impact, infrastructure requirements and affordable housing issues.

Meanwhile, plans for 645 homes at Middle Peak Quarry on the outskirts of Wirksworth are also already on the list.

It sits alongside Matlock’s Cawdor Quarry, the subject of a 402-home housing scheme, as two core brownfield quarry sites which are often brought up as preferred development sites in the Dales which would help alleviate pressure on green fields and countryside areas. While they go undeveloped the pressure continues elsewhere, the authority’s development manager said in December.

Tarmac is behind the 645-home plans for Middle Peak Quarry, which would be built in the 140-acre quarry itself, along with a primary school, corner shop and other facilities.

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It was dubbed the “largest and most significant development in Wirksworth” in the area’s neighbourhood plan.

Its plans for 151 homes and business units on the land around the quarry are also on the council’s existing list of schemes which need to be culled.

That scheme, listed as “Middleton Road”, hit key obstacles in 2019 when centuries old remains of mines which are protected by law as scheduled monuments by Historic England were uncovered.

Work to build nearly 500 homes in Cawdor Quarry was approved in June 2018 and the first £11 million phase which was largely flats, was built, but work stopped in 2021 after the construction company behind the project collapsed.

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This has left the remaining homes in indefinite limbo, with the planning permission lapsed after three years of inaction. The scheme’s 2018 approval had been hailed as a “momentous event for Matlock” after 20 years of work.

Other housing applications on the existing Local Plan which could face the chop are:

  • 28 homes off Cavendish Drive, Ashbourne
  • 30 homes in Old Hackney Lane, Darley Dale/Matlock
  • 27 homes in Old Hackney Lane, Darley Dale/Matlock
  • 100 homes in Stancliffe Quarry, Darley Dale
  • 24 homes at the former Royal Bank of Scotland in Snitterton Road, Matlock
  • 114 homes across an unspecified number of undisclosed sites

The Cavendish Drive, Old Hackney Lane and Wolds sites are the only locations which are greenfield, with the rest identified as brownfield plots.

A consultation on the Local Plan will also see residents asked what method they would like to see the authority use for distributing housing.

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Option 1 is to retain housing around the market towns of Ashbourne, Matlock and Wirksworth, with some residual development in smaller areas.

Option 2 would see housing development “directed” towards smaller settlements, which would be Brailsford, Clifton, Cromford, Darley Bridge, Doveridge, Hulland Ward, Matlock Bath, Milddeton by Wirksworth, Northwood, Rowsley, Sudbury, Tansley, Bonsall, Brassington, Carsington, Kirk Ireton, Kniveton, Marston Montgomery, Bradley, Ednaston, Hognaston, Hollington, Longford, Osmaston, Roston, Shirley, Wyaston, and Yeaveley – with some residual development in the market towns.

Option 3 is to retain the current “status quo” with housing focusing around the market towns.

The council says a shift in distribution could see the need to scrap some of the allocated sites and to identify new ones in the smaller more rural communities identified.