Homes bid refused as protest sounds

Housing protesters outside a meeting at Ripley's council offices
Housing protesters outside a meeting at Ripley's council offices

Klaxons, wailing swanee whistles, drums and chants of protest were heard as Amber Valley council’s planning board refused a bid to build 79 houses in Codnor.

While campaigners spoke out against Peveril Homes Limited’s attempt to gain outline permission to build on 6.9 hectares of land off Holborn View in the council chamber, their comrades kept up a noisy accompaniment outside with a loudspeaker and air-horns.

A series of impassioned speeches were made against the application, led by Support Our Struggle campaigner Sylvia Mason who said: “Our countryside is a priceless, non-renewable resource. Our wildlife is in crisis - with some subjects facing the very real threat of extinction.

“Allowing developers to destroy woodland, greenbelt and open countryside in their overzealous bid to build their biscuit-box homes will destroy our environment even more. This is a vexatious development.”

Rebecca Dean said the current infrastructure was not capable of sustaining the development, while Kevin Finn described it as “a threat to the local community.”

Cllr Steve Freeborn urged the planning board to defer or reject the application because it “is in complete disregard of the Local Plan.” An application to make the land a village green is awaiting a decision following an inquiry.

Senior planning officer Derek Stafford referred the board to Amber Valley’s Planning Support Statement, which said many of the policies in the Local Plan - including policies EN1 and H5 - only “serve to restrict development and therefore ensures that the delivery of housing is stifled”. He described the land as “low quality grazing land” and said: “Those plans should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites. We have to demonstrate a five year supply and show enough sites have come forward to meet that need over the next five years. “

Cllr Allen King said: “Our hands are tied. We have no power. Legally we have to do things - we have no legal chance of voting against these things.”

Cllr John Nelson said: “Someone said anything goes in Amber Valley - it doesn’t. We refused, they appealed, we lost. The pattern has been set.

“Will someone give me a good reason in planning law? Because we are unable to take on the views of the local people. I really feel we have our hands tied behind our back.” Cllr Brian Lyttle said: “If we cannot make a decison on this one way or another without someone sticking their oar in - it is pointless us being here. I have listened to the people here tonight. Their arguments are good. We are in no man’s land. And it’s getting worse.”

Cllr Jane Orton said: “Unless we can come up with something concrete we will be landing the ratepayers of Amber Valley with a legal bill.”

The board’s refusal of the application, by five votes to six, was greeted by applause.

Cllr Bob Moon said: “This proposal is contrary to four of the 12 principles of the National Planning Policy Framework. I am sure this is not the end of this issue.”

Peveril Homes Ltd declined to comment.