Joy and anger for campaigners fighting plans for housing on Derbyshire green belt land

Campaigners rallying against housing plans for protected green belt land in Derbyshire have celebrated – and lashed out – after controversial council decisions.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 2:35 pm

On Thursday, March 25, Erewash Borough Council will debate major changes to its plans for earmarked housing sites on protected green belt land.

It has revealed that one controversial site, in Lock Lane Sawley, has been dropped from consideration – to the joy of campaigners, who represented nearly 20 per cent of objections.

However, a campaign group against housing in Cotmanhay Wood and a scheme south of Kirk Hallam has claimed the authority is “undemocratic” and “out of touch” after those respective earmarked schemes are set to remain in place. Objections to the Cotmanhay site represented 80 per cent of objections to the housing blueprint.

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Campaigners say council plans show no regard for local democracy

Cllr Alan Chewings, chair of Sawley Parish Council, had been a key part of the opposition to 300 homes in Lock Lane, Sawley, close to a nature reserve.

The Lock Lane site is due to be axed due to issues with a nearby railway level crossing, which often leaves the area cut off – an issue council officers do not wish to worsen.

Cllr Chewings said: “Residents of Sawley have cause to celebrate because we have come together to defeat the plans to develop the small golf course north of Lock Lane.

“The Wildlife Trust and Sawley Parish Council worked together to campaign against the cuts. 3,000 people signed a petition against the proposal and more than 100 people objected by completing the formal consultation questionnaire.”

Th Derbyshire Times is campaiging to protect the county's green fields from inapproprite development

The original plan for homes to be earmarked had been for a 600-home scheme, encircling Cotmanhay Wood.

A large chunk of this is now set to be dropped after one of the landowners backed out.

However, a planned smaller portion of the Cotmanhay site – to the east of the wood – will continue, despite heavy objections from local campaigners.

On top of this, a proposed green belt development in Kirk Hallam, with a new relief road, will be extended further to offset the homes to be lost at the Cotmanhay site. It, too, had included 600 homes initially.

Alex Breene, chair of the Save Cotmanhay and Shipley Green Belt Group, said: “This is now a battle for local democracy and the welfare of Ilkeston. The council are focusing 90% of the borough’s delivery plan for new housing solely in the Ilkeston area.

“More troubling still is the council’s total disregard for local democracy. Why launch a consultation to then ignore 80 per cent of respondents? What does this say about the council’s view of the residents it claims to represent?”

Erewash Borough Council was approached for comment. In response, Cllr Michael Powell, Erewash Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration and planning, said: “The reality is that we have to meet the housing needs for the residents of our borough, initially over the next five years, and then the next, nearly two decades.

“This process is vital in meeting the targets the government has set and we thank everyone for giving us their views so far.

“We have listened to comments, reviewed them in detail and made changes as we move forward.

“A second round of consultation, if agreed, would be important to ensure that we can start to see much-needed house building in our borough.”