COLUMN: Make sure we don’t become suburb of city

NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.

By George Gunby

I’m a simple sort of bloke who can be easily puzzled by reports and core plans. 

I don’t have the patience and the attention span to wade through them these days. So it was with some trepidation that I took a look at the Derby City Core Plan (OFNS) October 2013. Sure enough I lost interest but not before I found the following. 

According to the Office For National Statistics, Derby City needs 24,000 new homes by 2028. Sounds a lot and it is. The city would grow by 25% and the increase would be supported by improvements to infrastructure and new jobs. 

However, Derby City Council didn’t believe the figures and they hired consultants to assess the housing needs of the city in the timescale that the OFNS had stated. The consultants eventually reported that the city needed 16,000 new homes. 

As I said, I am a simple bloke and my question is simple. How can two teams of “experts” - and we all know the definition of an expert – be so far apart? It’s not just a matter of a few percentage points. To cap it all Derby City Council say that they can only accommodate 12,500 new homes and they will protect the Greenbelt. 

But wait... the cavalry are coming. The councils of Amber Valley and South Derbyshire have agreed to meet the shortfall. According to Derby City Council Core Report, Amber Valley have agreed to 9,400 new houses and South Derbyshire 13,400 dwellings. Great...problem solved, solved as far as Derby City Council is concerned. 

Derby City Council seem content to let others pick up the slack in order that the city has a pool of labour for the jobs and infrastructure they are going to construct. If new houses are built in Belper shouldn’t a priority be jobs in Belper? It’s certainly preferable to the “commuter estates” that are being proposed. 

As I said, I’m a simple bloke. People smarter than me will put forward arguments against the developments that are far better constructed than I can contrive and I thank them for it. What we need to do is stick together and support them to make sure that Belper stays as Belper and does not become a suburb of Greater Derby.