The challenge of housing plans

NRHNBE111220b1, Ripley town hall.
NRHNBE111220b1, Ripley town hall.

Last week Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC)’s proposed Core Strategy was ‘suspended’ by the Planning Inspector following a public inquiry, and the council now has six months to sort it out before the public hearing is resumed in November. The suspension means that parts of the draft core strategy will have to be re-thought and re-written, especially where the houses are to be built.

When the strategy was published for consultation, a lot of opposition was generated by individuals and some parish councils. There were even protest groups set up specifically to campaign against building on certain sites. So it was a little strange to see both these protest groups and some developers arguing against the development of the land north of Nottingham Road and east of Codnor.

Essentially, what has happened is that these two sites were shown to be less sustainable, not as viable as, and harder to deliver than other sites elsewhere. It was also shown that the distribution of housing proposed by AVBC – with most development in the north and east of the borough – would be unlikely to deliver the housing numbers needed. This is because there are already so many sites in the area with planning permission granted but with very few houses actually being built; it makes little sense to compound the problems this creates.

So whoever is elected on May 22 will face major challenges to meet the November deadline. It is vital that the decision making process for the re-evaluation of the strategic housing sites across the borough is carried out objectively.

I would urge the new administration to allow the Planning Officers to do their jobs without political interference. Crucially, that means that the assessment criteria used must be applied objectively and in the same way at each of the prospective sites across the borough.