So, now it’s official. The Derbyshire Dales Local Plan is dead, and the district council must start again.
The Government Inspector says we need to build 6,500 houses in Derbyshire Dales by 2028, and the district council have only identified sites for 4,400 new houses. So we need to find sites for another 2,000 houses.
At a recent special council meeting, a member of the public made a very sensible suggestion that the council should consider building a “new village” to cater for those additional homes, rather than face all the hassle of overloading the infrastructures of existing towns in the Derbyshire Dales and upsetting local residents further.
This method of tackling the problem is exactly the opposite of that which has been the district council’s policy up to now.
The current policy is to develop market towns and leave villages well alone, I feel. However the district council are being told quite clearly and loudly by residents of the market towns that they have had enough.
So, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the policy.
The suggestion of a “new village” met with quite a few nods of approval from both councillors and the public, and it is a pity that Councillor Fredrickson criticised it, with the rather strange objection that wherever such a new village was put, it would meet resistance from local residents. I don’t agree. Firstly, if the new village of 2,000 houses were to be located away from any existing settlement, by definition there would be no local residents to object.Secondly, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that some existing small villages or hamlets would welcome expansion.
We heard from another councillor, who has relevant experience in educational matters, that many village schools are in danger of closing because of falling numbers.
Would these villages, i.e. the residents of these villages, be opposed to sensitive and controlled expansion – which would help to maintain not only their schools but their post offices, their pubs, their shops and their leisure facilities?
As I see it, one medium-sized village of 2,000 homes (with shops, a doctors’ surgery, a school and leisure facilities also included) or four or five expanded existing villages, each of 500 new homes, would satisfy the requirements. This would remove at a stroke the anguish about to be unleashed on towns where residents have already shown their distaste for stretching already stretched infrastructures. Indeed, why not take it further?
Why not remove from the table some of those controversial sites that have already been approved by the District Council for development, and increase the size of the “new village” – to say 3,000 homes?
The district council prides itself on its strong consultation ethos.
Let’s see them really consult with small parish councils and village residents and test the water.
But let’s do it differently this time.
Last time, the district council obtained potential sites from landowners and developers, put them in a proposal document, and let councillors and residents fight against what they saw as unacceptable in their towns.
This time, let’s go and talk to parish councils and village and hamlet residents first. Let’s find out what, if any, development they might like to support in their village to strengthen its sustainability.
Instead of setting residents against developers, we might actually create a situation where they would work together.In parallel, just in case existing villages are not attracted to these p roposals, let us identify a virgin location within the Dales for a brand new village.
This could be developed slowly over a period of 10 years or so, thereby allowing the residents of it to have a say in its future development.
Sent in by John Evans.
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