North East Derbyshire Conservatives are urging residents to work with their local councillors to continue the fight to protect the north of the District’s Green Belt.
The Conservative-run District Council is lifting the pause it had placed on the draft Local Plan so it can proceed to the next consultation. This will give local communities another chance to have their say and help local Conservative Councillors in urging the national Planning Inspector, who is examining the plan, to make further changes.
Cllr Charlotte Cupit, the Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, commented, “We’ve been working really hard since taking control of the Council to improve the Local Plan after the mess that was left by Labour’s legacy of poor decision-making, lack of proper consultation and failure to get a plan in place for many years, giving rise to speculative development across the District. The Lib Dems want to build a new town or village in the Green Belt or the Peak Park. This would also mean scrapping the plan and thousands of extra new homes putting an even greater strain on our infrastructure.
“So it’s only the Conservatives who are continuing to fight to protect our rural character and stop the recent chaotic history of unchecked speculative developments and strain on infrastructure across our district. The options for moving forward are limited because the plan is at such a late stage in the independent examination process, but we’ve got another chance for local communities to raise concerns with the remaining allocations on Green Belt land.”
Cllr Alex Dale, Chairman of North Derbyshire Conservatives said, “We have a really strong record of action in the fight to protect our Green Belt and we’ve successfully campaigned with residents to reduce the number of houses Labour originally planned around Dronfield from 860 to around 200. We’ll keep fighting and we urge residents to work with us to convince the Inspector to go even further to protect Dronfield’s Green Belt.
“And in Killamarsh, our Conservative Councillors will continue to stand with residents and community groups like R.A.G.E (Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion) in opposing development on the Green Belt at Westthorpe Road – as we have done for many years. We’ve already sent in objections to the current planning application, and we’ll continue to make the case against development on the site this by highlighting to the Inspector the infrastructure and landscape issues in this area.”
You can find the Council’s letter to the Planning Inspector and its press release here.
Notes & Timeline:
- North East Derbyshire District Council last adopted a Local Development Plan in 2005. It expired in 2011 and since then the Labour-run District Council has taken almost a decade to produce a new Local Plan, when most local authorities were adopting new plans within around 3-4 years.
- As a result, many communities in the south of the District were prone to speculative development which, due to the lack of a Local Plan, were difficult for the Council to fight. This resulted in thousands of new homes being approved in what many communities felt were inappropriate locations.
- When the District Council first published its initial draft of the current Local Plan in 2017, the Plan included proposals for approximately 2000 houses in the Green Belt around the northern towns and villages of Dronfield, Eckington and Killamarsh. Since then, opposition Conservative Councillors have fought many aspects of the Plan, including its green belt proposals, every step of the way.
- During the various consultations since 2017, Conservative Councillors and Lee Rowley MP have organised public meetings, delivered thousands of letters to residents to raise awareness and encourage consultation responses and submitted their own comprehensive objections.
- The active campaigning, alongside local residents, helped see several proposed sites pulled out of the plan, including sites at Hallowes Golf Club and Hilltop in Dronfield.
- In late 2018, together with residents and campaign groups, Conservative Councillors and Lee Rowley MP attended the Public Examination to make the case to the national Planning Inspector that further green belt allocations should be withdrawn.
- In February 2019, the Inspector released her interim findings, which proposed the removal from the Plan of sites for 400 homes in Eckington, 200 homes in Coal Aston and the reduction of a further site in Dronfield at Chesterfield Road as part of upcoming Main Modifications.
- In May 2019, the Conservatives took control of North East Derbyshire District Council from Labour in the local elections and wrote to the Inspector to pause the process while they undertook an review of the options moving forward. Since then the Council has been seeking advice and reviewing its options to make changes to the Plan. Unfortunately, due to the late stage of the Plan in the adoption process and the tight legal framework that must be worked through, it is not possible to make changes without unpausing the Plan, continuing the process and working with residents to try to convince try the Inspector to make further changes through the final consultation process.