Members of Chesterfield Borough Council’s Planning Committee felt the application for land east of Linacre Road, Holme Hall, didn’t do enough to address the climate emergency and refused to move it for approval in the meeting on Monday (June 6).
Proposals by applicant Tilia Homes Ltd designated 40 per cent of the site for public use and included wildlife corridors, electric vehicle charging points, solar panels and insulation, as well as 55 affordable homes.
Grilling the applicant’s agent Richard Stewart, Councillor Ray Catt questioned why 0.75 hectares of trees, some of which were the subject of tree preservation orders, were being cleared to make way for the development.
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Mr Stewart stated: “We’re more than compensating with the number that we’re planting.”
But Coun Catt argued the report didn’t detail how many trees were going to be planted, pointing out that it takes up to 30 years for a sapling to grow and provide the same carbon capture efficiency as a mature tree.
Councillor Mick Brady asked Mr Stewart why gas boilers were being installed when they were soon to be phased out in the fight against climate change.
The agent responded by saying the development achieved a 31 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and the houses were being ‘future proofed’ for subsequent environmental upgrades.
However Coun Brady pushed him on the gas boiler issue, asking why the developer was not using a more environmentally friendly option and suggesting it was because they were more expensive.
When Mr Stewart gave no answer, the councillor concluded: “I note your silence.”
Coun Catt addressed the agent again over the plot sizes of some of the homes, stating 54 homes did not meet national space standards.
He commented: “It’s obviously not big enough for 301 houses if you’re now having to have 54 homes smaller than the national standard.”
Mr Stewart said the site had been earmarked for at least 300 homes in the Local Plan and the application had been drawn up with the authority’s housing manager, adding that it provided more than the required amount of homes with disabled access.
Group Leader for Development Management Paul Staniforth pointed out that if the housing application fell short of the number allocated within the Local Plan, the remaining homes would need to be built on another greenfield site.
Councillor Kate Caulfield raised concerns about the calculations for Section 106 payments towards NHS and education provision in the area, pointing out that in her experience they were often insufficient.
Members admitted they were aware that if they refused the application, the developer would more than likely win at appeal, but expressed grave concerns about the proposal in its current form.
Councillor Barry Bingham said: “We’re only going to get one chance to reduce the carbon footprint and it matters not just to me or to everybody sat in this room, it matters to everyone.”
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of deferring the decision so more information could be gathered on the Section 106 and carbon emissions calculations.