Councillors debate future of the Dales

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Council chiefs have been listening to residents comments when it comes to the future of the Dales.

Members of Derbyshire Dales District Council debated issues relating to the Local Plan, which once adopted will set out how the area will expand over the next few years.

Following a public consultation, residents raised concerns about the amount of greenfield land used as opposed to brownfield sites.

In particular the land at Coneygreave House, in Wirksworth, was mentioned, with residents referring to it as a valuable piece of greenfield land between Steeple Grange and Wirksworth town centre, and the last remaining piece of rural land in the town.

Mike Hase, planning policy manager for the district council, explained that central government brought out the National Planning Policy Framework in March 2012, which lessoned the importance of using brownfield land over greenfield land for new developments.

“It still says you should look to brownfield sites but it doesn’t give a mandate,” he said. “But in terms of the plan, when you look at the sites, something like 65 per cent or more of the housing will be on brownfield sites so in that sense we are still achieving a high proportion.”

Councillor Bob Cartwright raised concerns about the deliverability of sites such as Halldale Quarry, in Matlock.

“The site may well contain a certain amount of contamination, which may hinder deliverability,” he said.

“For property developers no funding is available from either banks or the Government for tackling contamination, so we might find if there is a significant amount of contamination we are going to run into problems on deliverability of these sites.”

Mr Hase said the council was aware that some sites would be easier to develop than others.

In the consultation, members of the public commented that the Matlock town centre supplementary planning document was likely to require modification due to lack of commercial interest.

They also said that the recent housing allocation at Bentley Bridge, Matlock, was unjustified as it is in an unsustainable location with poor access to town centre facilities.

In a report to the Local Plan Advisory Committee, a district council officer commented: “Whilst further away from the town than other sites the outcome of this assessment process concluded the site was suitable for allocation. It is considered than an extensive , democratic and consistent approach has been taken to site selection and allocation within the Local Plan.”