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Belper flooding highlights issues as Bullsmoor planning inquiry begins

Campaign group Protect Belper say that Easter weekend flooding on land near Bullsmoor shows why a controversial industrial development should be rejected.
Campaign group Protect Belper say that Easter weekend flooding on land near Bullsmoor shows why a controversial industrial development should be rejected.

As the planning inquiry into a controversial Belper development began this week, flooding near the site reminded residents of problems which may lie ahead.

The Planning Inspectorate began its review of Amber Valley Borough Council’s approval of industrial development on greenfield land at Bullsmoor on Tuesday, April 10.

The plans have been fiercely contested by residents, primarily owing to the impact on Belper’s World Heritage Site (WHS) landscape , but also due to the flood risk.

Their fears were reinforced over the Easter weekend as the Coppice Brook burst its banks.

Leonardo Mifsud, of the Protect Belper group, said: “Any development within the WHS buffer zone is unacceptable but, at Bullsmoor, the flood risk is very real too. There are many natural underground streams which any development would disrupt.

“Plus the fields offer a level of protection. Tarmac and bricks do not absorb water, meaning extreme weather will undoubtedly result in the brook being overwhelmed to a much greater degree.”

The Bullsmoor hills form a natural soakaway, meaning that, if adverse weather hits the area, water can flow across the floodplain to a second brook near Stanton Avenue.

Stanton Avenue resident Anita Armstrong-Bednall said: “We’ve seen the field flood before but it seems to have got worse in recent years since the development at Whitemoor.

“The floodplain always does what it’s meant to do and carries the water away, but I doubt it’ll cope if they build above it.”

Developer Peveril Securities, part of Bowmer and Kirkland, has always maintained that there is a low risk of flooding but did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Amber Valley Borough Council said: “We will not comment further on this application while the inquiry is under way.”