Belper heritage campaigners to fight latest council planning decision

Residents protest outside the Amber Valley Borough Council planning board meeting on December 18 over a possible housing development on Belper Lane, in the World Heritage Site buffer zone
Residents protest outside the Amber Valley Borough Council planning board meeting on December 18 over a possible housing development on Belper Lane, in the World Heritage Site buffer zone

Heritage campaigners have vowed to fight on after the latest planning approval by Amber Valley Borough Council which could put Belper’s UNESCO status at risk.

An application to build 65 homes on land at Whitehouse Farm, on Belper Lane, was given the green light by councillors at a meeting on Monday, December 18.

Members of the Belper Lane Action Group have long opposed any development on the land, due to its predicted impact on a protected ‘buffer zone’ which surrounds the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Spokesman Paul Terry said: “The meeting was a disaster from beginning to end. We argued the case for the world heritage site, as did supportive borough and town councillors - but the planning board didn’t want to hear it.

“They’re not listening to us, and they’re not following the national policy framework on planning. There are lots of points on which they need to be questioned, and a lot of their information is simply wrong.”

He added: “It’s an appalling state of affairs, but they have only made us more determined.

“I don’t know if they think we’ll go away, but we won’t. We’ll fight this until the bitter end.”

In a report recommending the council granted permission, planning officers acknowledged it was a departure from the agreed Local Plan, and the ongoing appeal over a rejected application for 118 houses on the same site.

That was turned down in September with the planning board accepting the harm it would do to the outstanding universal value which arises from the region’s heritage and landscape.

As with the recent decision over land at Bullsmoor, the fear remains that any approved development could open the door to something much larger.

In recommending that the new application be accepted, council officers concluded the benefits to the community would outweigh any harm to the World Heritage Site.

This was disputed by town and county councils, as well as representatives from Historic England.

The planning approval will expire in two years, and is subject to the developers meeting more than 40 conditions - outlined at https://goo.gl/D5VvGN.

In the meantime, residents will seek renewed support from Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid, and UNESCO.

Paul said: “If we have to, we will take it all the way to the UN in New York. The law is on our side, even if Amber Valley council don’t want to see it.”