Green light for heritage plans

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MAJOR plans to transform a business park into a state-of-the-art heritage centre and create up to 30 new jobs has gone a step closer to being given the green light.

The application to develop the old Rockmill business park at Stoney Middleton was recommended for refusal by Peak District Park National Authority at its latest meeting because it was “out of scale” with its countryside location.

However, the planner said it was an “exception to park planning policy” and it will now go to full council at the end of March for a final decision to be made.

John Herbert, chair of the planning committee, said: “This is an exceptional case in unique circumstances, where the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, which is why we are recommending an exception is made to our policies.

“This is an exciting opportunity to enhance an important site at the gateway to the village, to improve facilities for the community and visitors and provide local jobs.”

Outline planning permission was being sought for access to the site only, with appearances to be discussed at a later date.

But the applicant gave details of the their ambitious long-term vision for the site, which included the heritage centre with cafe, a community hall facility, a craft shop and even tourist accommodation that could include eight multi-bedroom holiday apartments and 21 single-letting rooms, with up to 81 parking spaces.

Along with at least 30 jobs being created, the applicant claimed it would provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.

This was backed up by four letters of support from residents, including one from a Derbyshire Dales District Council ward member, who said the site had been in need of development for some years and would provide a much-needed community centre for Stoney Middleton.

It was also suggested that the large number of rock climbers and hikers that visit the area would be persuaded to stay if there was suitable holiday accommodation, thus provide extra trade for the pubs, restaurants and shops.

There had been no objections from the Highways Authority, and general support from the parish council.