School go-ahead despite concerns

A housing development which opposers claim will breach planning policy and could put vulnerable people at risk has been approved.

Angry residents lobbied Derbyshire Dales District Council at a meeting on Tuesday, calling on them to reject the scheme for Darley Dale Primary School.

The plans, submitted by Derbyshire County Council and Dales Housing, will see 15 affordable homes and seven private properties built on the site and three new class-rooms built at the junior school.

The development goes against planning policy which says that green field sites should not be developed – but members said this could be overlooked as affordable homes were needed.

Resident John Evans said: “I’ve become concerned and alarmed at the ease and frequency officers seem to overrule their own policies.

“If we can go against planning policies why have them?”

Pat Strutt, reading a statement from Jackie Tunnicliffe, honorary secretary of Mencap, in Greenaway Lane, which will be at the centre of the development, said the charity did not support the scheme and feared it would put the centre’s work in ‘jeopardy’.

Anne Pearson, who helps with care at Greenaway Workshop – which provides disabled adults with work – said they also had concerns.

The plans will see new fencing provided to screen the workshop.

She added: “The workshop has been an integral part of the community for 30 years.

“Never before has there been a need for fencing or a partition which will separate and exclude the disabled. What does this say about our attitude to these people.”

The workshop and the Mencap Centre say the development will ruin their tranquil settings and have a negative affect on their clients.

Concerns about traffic congestion and that the development would set a precedent for other green fields to be developed, were also raised.

But councillors said the scheme would provide homes for residents and improve educational facilities at the school.

Cllr David Fearn said: “I’ve been on the planning committee for 37 years and this is the most difficult planning application I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Council leader Lewis Rose added: “It comes back to things that are important to the community, education is important and housing is important.”

Cllr Robert Cartwright said: “The officers have said it is a balancing act.

“I think there is a clear cut need for social housing in the Dales and I think there will be significant improvements to the school.”