Council reject housing plans in World Heritage Site zone

Residents of Belper Lane and surrounding areas have repeatedly campaigned to protect green belt land from housing development.Residents of Belper Lane and surrounding areas have repeatedly campaigned to protect green belt land from housing development.
Residents of Belper Lane and surrounding areas have repeatedly campaigned to protect green belt land from housing development.Residents of Belper Lane and surrounding areas have repeatedly campaigned to protect green belt land from housing development.

Campaigners have welcomed the news that plans for 118 new homes near the World Heritage Site boundary have been rejected by councillors.

Amber Valley Borough Council’s planning board considered the application for a development at Whitehouse Farm, off Belper Lane on Monday, September 18.

Council planning officers had recommended to the members that permission be granted to meet the public need for housing, but elected members came to the opposite conclusion.

Residents had been joined in their opposition by Belper ward councillors Ben Bellamy and Joe Booth, who requested that the decision be made by the board rather than officers.

They established that the land in question lies within the World Heritage Site buffer zone, which carries its own special planning status to help protect the historic landscape within the boundary.

In his submission to the planning consultation, Coun Bellamy told officers: “The site is an important part of the undeveloped rural landscape providing the setting for the Belper industrial settlement, which makes a huge contribution to the significance of the World Heritage Site.

“The clear relationship between the rural landscape and the historic settlement is integral to the site.”

He also submitted a series of photographs of the sales deeds of Whitehouse Farm from 1932 which demonstrates that the farm was until that time a Strutt farm and historically formed part of the Strutt estate.

Coun Bellamy acknowledged the demand for housing, but pointed to brownfield sites in the centre of town as a preferable option.

The opposition campaign also won support from Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham and Belper Town Council, who pointed out the value of the greenfield site to walkers and wildlife.

Protesters had gathered at the meeting to highlight the risks which the development posed to the unique character of the Derwent Valley.

Wendy Mitchell, who is a member of the Belper Lane Community Action Group, told reporters from the Derby Telegraph that if the plans had gone ahead then “it would put the whole of the heritage site in peril.”

She said: “So many people and organisations worked so hard to gain World Heritage Site status for the valley.

“By allowing these green fields to be concreted over to build houses, the council would be removing the very heart of our treasured heritage site designation.”

“This was in order to protect our very special heritage, and the borough council, with this one act can wipe away all that work.”