As a resident of Matlock and former Town Councillor I am becoming increasingly frustrated by some of the decisions and actions of the District Council, especially in view of the crucial decisions to be taken soon which will affect the future well-being of our town.
Firstly, on the Bakewell Road / Imperial Road development the Council has apparently chosen to consult with the public only after a developer has been chosen, for ‘commercial sensitivity’ reasons.
I find it hard to accept that there is no effective way of involving the community at an earlier stage so that some kind of consensus is reached as to what the public actually want to see in the centre of Matlock, compared to the schemes submitted.
I well recall the hours of work over several years undertaken by many individuals and stakeholders, to produce an SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) and brief for the site, which I believe must be complied with.
Secondly, on the controversial housing proposals for Matlock, the District Council must surely listen to the public’s views, expressed so eloquently at the deferred Highfields public meeting and in letters to your newspaper. Easily developed but questionable ‘greenfield’ sites have been put forward by officers without apparently taking account of currently derelict sites such as Halldale and Harveydale Quarries.
The owners of these sites may be more than willing to consider housing or mixed use, provided of course the need for such extra capacity can be proved.
If necessary the council’s timetable must be deferred to allow for more consultation with landowners.
I am also amazed that approaches by Matlock Golf Club about possible modest development off Chesterfield Road appear to have been ignored and residential capacity within the town centre scheme not considered.
Surely, the Localism Act was supposed to give local communities more say in the decisions which affect them, rather than less, and yet our two main councils appear unwilling to embrace it.
Thirdly, I am aware that Liberal Democrat Councillors have lobbied the District Council exhaustively, following the removal of all children’s play facilities on the Dimple site prior to the construction of the Arc and their change of mind about a MUGA for local teenagers.
Thanks to the support of some local youngsters, Council officers have now agreed to consult about a new play area to be provided sometime in the near future.
Finally, we see that some of the Central Area toilets eg Artists Corner and the Bus / Train Station, have been closed for maintenance at the very height of the tourist season!