‘Use it or lose it’ for green spaces

Angry residents at the Askers Lane development site in Matlock
Angry residents at the Askers Lane development site in Matlock

As the public calls for green spaces to be spared from housing, council chiefs argue to protect the countryside they must build upon it.

In a meeting heaving with angry residents, members of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Local Plan Advisory Committee voted in favour of building 4,400 new homes by 2028.

Director of planning Paul Wilson said they had to allocate space for new developments now in order to meet Government requirements.

“The National Planning Framework requires the planning authority to provide a five year supply plus an additional supply of five per cent,” he said.

He explained that if the council did not have sites in place to cope with the estimated increase in population it would be left open to planning appeals from developers.

Cllr David Fern continued: “The worst case scenario is developers would be able to pick a site and develop it. The council would no doubt turn it down and would lose at appeal.”

Members of the public argued building homes on greenfield land would ruin the area’s character.

Speaking independently of his role on Matlock Town Council, David Jones said: “The majority of public opinion in Matlock is against new building and in particular building on greenfield sites.”

Once all the existing planned projects have been taken into account, the authority must find sites for 761 homes over the next 16 years, which will be located in the Matlock and Wirksworth area, as well as Ashbourne and southern parishes.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that between 2010 and 2035 the number of working age people will decrease by 6.8 per cent and the number of older people will increase massively by 75.6 per cent.

Mr Wilson continued: “The Dales is a very attractive place to live and we do have an ageing population. We have high levels of migration and we can’t control that.”

Planning consultant Peter Wigglesworth argued: “Matlock needs to keep more of its younger people and they need more local jobs, not houses for older migrants.”