Plans for nearly 500 houses and flats in a disused Matlock quarry have been given the go ahead, despite objections from residents.
The vast majority of the scheme by Groveholt Ltd for Cawdor Quarry received the backing of locals and councillors after nearly two decades of work on the project.
However, the lack of affordable housing and the building of five-and-a-half homes on greenfield land prompted objections. These houses would be built on Snitterton Field.
More than 50 residents filed in to Derbyshire Dales District Council headquarters in Matlock on Thursday evening.
The lack of affordable housing was put down to reducing the amount of houses in the scheme and the substantial cost of cleaning up the site.
Residents feared the scheme would render the recently approved local plan effectively useless.
They also raised concerns about the level of traffic already using Matlock Spa Road to access the nearby Sainsbury’s.
Criticisms were voiced about the lack of houses small enough for families and young people – as opposed to an emphasis on four-bed properties.
The Conservative-led authority’s planning committee approved the development by nine votes to three, with one abstention.
Coun Lewis Rose, council leader and committee member, said: “We have a decision to make one way or the other and members of the public will say that we don’t listen to them but it is not an easy task.
“I think we have to stop beating about the bush and do something about Cawdor Quarry.
“It is not a perfect application but for the greater good of Matlock we have to do this.
“I think that in the long run we will see this as a momentous event for Matlock.”
Fellow Conservative councillor Albert Catt also supported the scheme.
He said: “This is one of the most important applications we have ever had to consider and will have an enormous impact on Matlock.
“I believe that it is a bold and creative development and that in eight to ten years’ time this will be looked on by all as a great development.”
In total, the site off Matlock Spa Road would have enough bedspace for 1,502 people and 859 parking spots.
A cafe and interpretation centre will be built and overseen, along with the surrounding fields and wetlands, by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
The site, dubbed Matlock Spa, would be split into five separate areas: Gateway Spa, Crescent Spa, Esplanade Spa, Village Spa and Spa Crescent.
Labour councillor Peter Slack felt the development should have had affordable housing. He said: “I do feel that we will be letting down young people in the middle and lower-income households.
“People’s voices should be heard at this council and they are just being swished under the carpet.
“Who today can afford a four-bed house? We don’t want rich people owning houses and poor people stuck in rented accommodation.”
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat councillor Sue Burfoot said: “Local people want to be able to stay in the town but they won’t be able to afford these houses – it is not right.”
As part of the scheme, the developer has been asked to contribute £672,541 for 59 primary school places at St Giles Primary School – which currently has 80 pupils.
The developer has also been asked to contribute £250,000 to public bus services; £150,000 for improvements to Crown Square – the main junction in Matlock; £185,331 to health services and £50,000 to dissuade traffic from travelling through Snitterton.
The completed scheme is expected to generate profits of £29 million.
Coun Colin Swindell, a local district councillor for the area of the planning site, said the idea the whole viability of the scheme rested on building five-and-a-half houses in Snitterton Fields was not realistic.
He said: “Councillors and members of the public want to see this application put to bed, but we want to see Snitterton Fields left untouched.
“Let’s start telling developers what we want for a change.
“I fear that allowing building on Snitterton Fields is like the developer getting a foot in the door, and the urban sprawl effect into the open space of Snitterton.”
The mix of houses and flats would break down as follows: nine one-bed flats; 83 two-bed flats, two three-bed flats; 68 two-bed houses; 95 three-bed houses; and 225 houses with four bedrooms or more.
Architect for the applicant, David Morley, said: “Our ambition is that this will become a national exemplar of sustainable development.
“We have now got a scheme that has wide support for the majority of the development.
“The Snitterton Fields area is fundamental to the spa village project.
“We have responded to a lot of the feedback which we have received and have made as many changes as we can to make this scheme acceptable and viable.”