Bid to push through controversial 185 new homes plan near Belper

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An appeal has been lodged to push through plans for 185 houses on a protected hillside near Belper.

The applicants, C and K Balls ,of Midland Industrial Estate in Ambergate, seek to build the houses on hilly grassland between Crich Lane and Far Laund, north of the town.

Amber Valley Borough Council, after a vast array of objecting statements from consulting organisations, rejected the application in December last year due to its intrusion into the green belt and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

It was seen to represent ‘an inappropriate form of development’ which ‘would result in significant detrimental visual and landscape change from rural agricultural land to a housing estate’.

A decision date has not been set for the appeal, which will be decided by a government planning inspector, but statements from members of the public must be filed by Monday, November 26.

The plans, pitched by agent for the applicant ADDC Architects, would have included 385 parking spaces and 30 per cent of the houses – 55 – would be affordable housing.

ADDC Architects declined to comment.

Further tree planting, including an expansion to existing woodland at Bessalone Wood, was proposed as part of the scheme.

A series of consultees, including Derbyshire County Council, Historic England and Natural England, confirmed that the application had not presented the ‘exceptional circumstances’ required to allow it to proceed.

The county council dubbed it ‘unacceptable’.

This was also felt by the campaign group Protect Belper, which stated that the ‘beautiful countryside’ must be safeguarded from encroachment.

On top of this, more than 350 members of the public objected to the plans.

Due to the height of the hill, borough council officers said that any development on the upper part of the proposed site, rising up from Crich Lane to the ridge of Bessalone Hill, would be visible from the west side of the valley and would be classed as ‘harmful’ to the World Heritage Site.

Belper Town Council had objected due to the “sensitivity of the land, its green belt status and the visual impact”.

One of the ward councillors on the borough council, Conservative Cllr Joseph Booth, had said: “The fact remains that the proposed development is on designated green belt land, the visual impact this would have from numerous locations throughout the town is totally unacceptable.”

To make a comment as part of the appeal, visit bit.ly/2yLKOPn or email North2@pins.gsi.gov.uk