Derbyshire Dales MP speaks out against plans for Matlock housing development

Derbyshire Dales’ MP has made a dramatic intervention in the long-running battle over plans for a huge new housing estate in Matlock.

By Ed Dingwall
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 6:47 pm

In a move welcomed by neighbours of the site off Gritstone Road, known as the Wolds, Sarah Dines MP said she would be writing to Derbyshire Dales District Council to signal her opposition.

She said: “I do not make a habit of getting involved in planning matters. Planning is looked after by the council and I think it is important that those on the planning committee are able to do their job and make decisions, with minimal input from myself.

“I am certainly not against house building and I am great supporter of affordable homes being built in the Dales, however, in the case of the Gritstone Road development, I feel it is only right that I make my views known.”

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Sarah Dines MP, second left, with Wolds Action Group members Julie Dawes, Julie Atkin and Dorrion Askew.

Acknowledging those residents who have fought for almost a decade against the idea of 423 homes on the biodiverse fields, Ms Dines said: “I would like to thank them for their work and for engaging with me multiple times.”

As previously reported by the Mercury, Derbyshire County Council has issued its own objection to the plans due to its potential impact on the town’s already precarious flood management situation.

Ms Dines said: “Matlock has seen devastating flooding, which has impacted homes and businesses alike. I have always been clear that I would not support planning applications that could increase the risk of flooding in our area.

“The fields currently act a sponge when surface water rises and even in its current form, flooding at the top of the hill does occur and does impact homes. I am concerned that building on this site will increase run off and make the situation at the bottom of Matlock even worse.

“The risk of flooding alone is enough to persuade me, but I also have concerns regarding the increase in traffic on roads that already struggle under the impact of an increase in vehicle users. Congestion is something we should all be working to avoid.

She added: “I have not made this decision lightly. I fully understand and appreciate the difficulties that the council is facing in finding appropriate sites for building.

“No matter where new homes are built, people may object – sometimes the same people who write to me concerned there are no houses for younger generations to buy. Planning is difficult and contentious at the best of times, but Gritstone Road is a different beast. I truly believe the land is not suitable to be built on, certainly not in the numbers proposed.”

Julie Atkin, of the Wolds Action Group, said: “Having the support of the MP is a great relief to everybody. People are really pleased she has said something. She didn’t have to. It feels like we are being listened to for the first time in so many years.

“I hope central Government will also look at the rules which mean the council has to deliver the full housing quota which can’t be built in the national park.”

In response to the county council’s flood appraisal, developer William Davis Homes this week submitted documents to the district council proposing an increase in size for one of the attenuation ponds designed to hold surface water from the site.

The proposal was accompanied by legal documents suggesting that the company may be preparing for battle over the quota of affordable housing required and contributions to fund local infrastructure.