Council planning decisions on Belper site to be reviewed by Government

editorial image

Amber Valley Borough Council’s decision to approve industrial development on land at Bullsmoor is to be reviewed in a Government inquiry.

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, ‘called-in’ the case on Friday, January 19, and will now have final say on the site’s future.

The move could also have consequences for an ongoing appeal over the council’s earlier decision to refuse housing development on the same land - the subject of a fierce dispute over its impact on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said: “An inquiry is scheduled to be held on 10 April when an inspector will hear evidence from parties to this appeal.

“In light of the ‘calling-in’ of the separate application, the Planning Inspectorate is considering whether the appeal and application are best handled at a joint inquiry and if so when this should be.”

All arrangements for the inquiry will be made by the inspectorate in Bristol, and the council must now await further instructions.

The council has been notified of key points on which the Secretary of State wants more detail, based on information so far available to him.

Those concern the National Planning Policy Framework on conserving and enhancing the historic environment, on building a strong, competitive economy, and the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with the development plan for the area.

A council spokesman said: “We are required to provide a statement of case to the Secretary of State containing the full particulars of the case the council proposes to put forward at the inquiry and any documents to be referred to as evidence.

They added: “As the local planning authority, the council and the applicant are also required, together, to prepare an agreed statement of common ground for the Secretary of State within six weeks.”

Mr Javid has directed the council not to grant planning permission for development on any land including part of the site until he has issued his decision on this application.

While heritage campaigners may have some cause for hope, there is also anger that Mr Javid will not review a recently approved housing development on Belper Lane.

Resident Paul Terry said: “We are appalled. We gave all our evidence to the Secretary of State to suggest the council has made mistakes, and the email we received back did not give any explanation for his refusal.

“The World Heritage Site is not just a local issue, it affects the whole of Belper. We can only hope a decision on Bullsmoor will benefit our fight further down the line.”