A huge new country park could be created on former mining land in Derbyshire.
The 175-acre plot lies just to the west of the Denby Hall Business Park in the green belt.
It borders a site known as Cinderhill, which is the subject of long-running plans for 3,000 houses - a new junction off the A38 and 30 acres of business space.
The plans for the new country park have been pitched to Amber Valley Borough Council by Garner Holdings.
Garner Holdings recently won approval for its plans to build 175 houses in nearby Nether Heage on the Firs Works industrial estate – a former prisoner of war camp.
If approved, the new 89-acre country park would be built on what was once a colliery and the site of open-cast mining.
As well as vast areas of woodland, grassland and wildflowers, it would include a picnic area, outdoor teaching space, natural play area, a barn owl tower and a great crested newt habitat.
The site has since been reclaimed with large areas of young trees planted – around 30 years ago – and it was designated as part of the protected green belt.
The country park proposals appear to be the first half of wider development plans for the site.
A significant expansion to the business park is also proposed – covering an area of 56 acres, comprising huge industrial units.
It is thought that this could create up to 500 new jobs and safeguard a further 700.
These industrial units would include 71,247 sqm of floor space.
Proposals for the business units include:
- New production facility for Garner Aluminium Extrusions Ltd (32,021 sqm) – part of the developer’s own business
- New warehouse for HL Plastics Ltd (20,009 sqm)
- New production facility for LB Plastics Ltd (7,293 sqm)
- New headquarters for Manthorpe Engineering Ltd (11,923.6 sqm)
A further 35 acres of the site would also become a further business park extension, but the developer says that ‘the need has not been demonstrated at this time’.
The business park expansion currently forms part of the borough’s draft Local Plan – a blueprint for future development.
However, this plan is now set to be withdrawn next week by the new Labour administration – after eight years of work.
This application is purely for the country park.
If given the go-ahead, the park would be used for the Belper Steam and Vintage event - which takes place each year.
Some 16 acres of the site would be reserved for the steam rally event.
A small car park for the park would be built off Street Lane, just south of the primary school.
Documents submitted with the application by Planning Design say that the developer had aimed to put forward the country park and business park plans in 2018 but these were put on hold.
This was due to the ongoing Local Plan discussions and the ongoing debate over possible green belt land deletions throughout Amber Valley.
The developer has since been told by the authority that it would be “unwilling to support” development of the green belt site, because it claims the “exceptional circumstances” required to do have not been demonstrated.
However, the developer has submitted its plans regardless of this.
A report submitted by Planning Design says: “It is a common trend to create country parks on old collieries as a way of reclaiming the land, and many of these are located next to industrial estates.
“By designating this land as a country park would allow local residents to gain a greater amenity use of the site.
“The footpaths could be enhanced and much more of the site would be accessible by the public for various activities, and biodiversity could be better managed and improved.
“The land has not been managed well. The trees have not been able to thrive, there are non-native, invasive species present and it is not meeting its full biodiversity potential.
“The country park would continue to function as green belt but could be more fully enjoyed for outdoor recreation and as a local community asset.
“The employment land would be fully contained and the loss of openness would be limited.
“There are very good economic reasons to support development on this site, in the creation of jobs and wealth. The development also holds out the prospect of a major boost to public access and biodiversity through the delivery of a country park.”
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service