Belper campaigners to hold street protest against planning decisions

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Protesters will take to the streets of Belper this weekend to highlight the threat of planned housing developments in the town.

Members of the Belper Lane group, Protect Belper, the Bessalone Action Group and various other residents’ organisations will join together for a short march on Saturday, December 2, starting at 11am.

The event follows the decision earlier this month by the Amber Valley Borough Council planning board, to open up the green fields of Bullsmoor for industrial development.

Campaigners fear it may actually be the precursor to a major housebuilding project, and could also set a precedent for other disputed development sites in the town.

Paul Terry, who has been involved in the battle over land off Belper Lane, said: “Amber Valley don’t seem to listen to what we have been saying, particularly about the Unesco World Heritage Site restrictions.

“We’re doing all we can to make them listen, and to make people living here aware how important it is.”

He added: “We don’t want to disrupt anyone’s day with the protest, just to make a point. If anyone has questions they can come and talk to us.”

The protest will begin at the Pottery Farm entrance on Kilbourne Road, and move to the North Mill at Bridgefoot via the town centre.

The planning board vote was split on the Bullsmoor decision, with six councillors going each way and the chairman deciding the matter based on the possible jobs boost at the site.

In the week since the decision was taken, Protect Belper have received new reports that prospective housing developers have been offering to buy residents’ homes neighbouring the site.

Paul said: “None of the councillors who voted for it are from Belper. This is a jewel in the crown, it has huge potential. Because the planning board are based in Ripley they don’t support us at all.

“The Derwent Valley has the same status as pyramids and the Taj Mahal. Not many places can claim that.”

Meanwhile, Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham has welcomed the announcement of a new Government inquiry during last week’s Budget into the problem of undeveloped sites which already have planning permission

She said: “I was pleased to hear that there will be an urgent review to look at the gap between planning permissions and housing starts.

“Clearly there is a vital need for new housing, but those of us campaigning for the preservation of green belt and historic sites will be happy to see that the Treasury has a keen eye on land-banking and is going to offer incentives for quicker disposal.”