DERBYSHIRE DALES: 500 homes planned for quarry

An artist's impression of the development
An artist's impression of the development

Plans to build nearly 500 houses and flats on the site of a disused quarry in Matlock have been recommended for approval.

The proposal, put forward by Groveholt Ltd, would see the former Cawdor Quarry reclaimed and renamed Matlock Spa, a proposal which stretches back nearly two decades.

None of the proposed accommodation would be affordable housing, due to the cost to the developer of making the site suitable for houses, which it says makes the project “at best cost neutral”.

It would include 388 houses, 94 flats, 2,800 square-metres of business space and a shop and cafe.

Access to the site, which has been disused since the 1950s, would be off Matlock Spa Road, near the existing Sainsbury’s.

Derbyshire Dales District Council officers say that redeveloping the site would require dealing with contamination and “extensive landscape remodelling and land stabilisation”.

The mix of houses and 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.

This would be enough bedspace for 1,502 people.

Meanwhile, the industrial units would be earmarked for offices, research and development, and light industry and would be located near the entrance to the site.

The proposed convenience store/shop will sit in the ground floor spaces of one of the three four-storey apartment-blocks which run alongside the entrance to the site, and the cafe would be in the upper north west corner of the development.

The apartment blocks would try to mimic the “language of handsome mill buildings found elsewhere in the Derwent Valley”.

The site would be split into five separate areas, Gateway Spa; Crescent Spa; Esplanade Spa; Village Spa; and Spa Crescents – taking their inspiration from Buxton and Bath.

There would be 739 parking spots for visitors; 60 for the business units; eight for the shop; nine near to a village green; 12 for anglers; and 31 for other visitors – 859 in total.

A lake to the south of the site would be maintained for use by the public and anglers.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will maintain this area, to be dubbed the Wetlands and Ecology Park, along with the adjoining wildlife areas Snitterton Fields and Snitterton Copse. 

The trust would also own the cafe, which will also act as an “interpretation centre” and all homeowners on the site will become trust members.

However, the trust is sceptical of the proposal, which it states had initial put 70 per cent of local wildlife at the site at risk.

It says that mitigation measures will need to include protection for badgers, bats, reptiles, breeding birds and butterflies.

A statement by the applicants, reads: “‘The Matlock Spa’ concept is far removed from a conventional housing estate. It aims to create something special with beautifully-designed and distinctive spa villages within a country park setting and the dramatic quarry scenery.

“The concept needs a critical mass to achieve a real sense of place and commercial success. Any affordable units are at best cost-neutral so the market housing has to bear the whole cost of the development.

“It is evident from the length of time that Groveholt have been involved (2001 to present day) that there is a long-term commitment to deliver a scheme that will not be a standard housing development.”

The Peak District National Park Authority has been consulted three times, with the scheme altered several times over the past 17 years.

It maintains its objection to the scheme despite these changes, stating although the ner version would “further reduce the visual impact of the development as a whole” it would still have “an adverse landscape and visual impact that would harm the setting of the National Park”.

Matlock Town Council also objects, reiterating that it “strongly opposes” the scheme, wishing to see some affordable housing built on the site, which is both brownfield and greenfield.

Previous iterations of the plans would have seen housing built nearer to Matlock Spa Road and in woodland.

The town council welcomes the withdrawal of the majority of the area of the Snitterton Fields wildlife area from the scheme but says that does not adequately counter balance the loss of any affordable housing.

South Darley Parish Council also objects, however Historic England and Natural England do not.

Derbyshire County Council has altered the financial contributions which it feels should be made to schools in the area to cope with the potential influx of around more than 1,500 residents.

It initially requested enough money for 50 primary school, 30 secondary school, and 13 post-16 places. This was then altered to 68, 16 and four respectively.

In the latest proposals, the authority suggests £672,541 for 59 primary school places, with no required contributions for secondary or post-16 spaces.

St Giles Church of England Primary School, in Starkholmes Road, currently has just 80 pupils.

Meanwhile, the county council also objects to the proposals stating that it has “fundamental concerns” about houses being built on greenfield land.

It feels the development would “appear as an area of urban sprawl into the countryside” and would have an “unacceptable major and adverse impact on the landscape”.

The developer has also been asked to contribute £225,000 to public bus services, along with £150,000 for improvements to Crown Square, the main junction in Matlock.

North Derbyshire Clinical Commisioning Group has asked for a £185,331 contribution to health services.

Recommending the application for approval, district council officers said: “The applicants present a vision which they consider necessary to deliver the development of this challenging brownfield site. 

“Whilst it does not fully comply with development plan policy it is considered to be broadly sustainable development which will redevelop this longstanding eyesore on the edge of the town and contribute significantly to meeting the housing needs of the town.

“The very clear benefits to Matlock of this site being developed economically, socially and environmentally carry substantial weight in the final assessment of this scheme.”

A final decision on the plans will be made by the council’s planning committee on Thursday, June 28.