Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Memorandum submitted by Sylvia Mason (GIB 33)

We here in Amber Valley would like to inform you of the problems we are having, caused by the Growth & Infrastructure Bill. We were highly delighted when the Localism Bill introduced the Neighbourhood Plan concept; our community understood we would be able to plan our own fates, but it has all gone horribly wrong.

A relatively small area of Amber Valley to the east of the Borough will be swamped with large scale residential building proposals. Our traditional, proud, and separate communities will be merged into one very unpleasant and enormous conurbation, reducing desperately needed green space, utilising premium green belt land rather than brownfield, and without consideration of limited infrastructure or the quality of life of current and future residents.

We have been told by our Borough Council, "On the strength of demographically projected growth alone, Amber Valley would effectively have to be planning for virtually no economic growth at all (0.2%p.a.)". BUT…the authority is happy to put forward six large builds (500 plus houses each), all to be shoe-horned into the east side of the Borough where green space is at a premium. All this, with no plan on how to create jobs for the thousands of expected new residents, and all within a 3.5 mile radius on the town of Ripley.

We are not against all residential building and do understand that people need housing, but here in Amber Valley, there are currently 2,500 houses with planning permission yet to be built, almost 2,000 homes standing empty, and several builds on hold due to the banks’ squeeze on mortgages as well as low incomes and prospects in this area. The proposals for so many new houses make little sense in terms of concepts of sustainability – whether economic, environmental, or social definitions are applied.

More than 30% of the proposed large builds are on green belt land, and despite having over 100 hectares of brownfield land available, only a small portion of the proposed sites are on brownfield sites.

We have been informed that only when the Core Strategy (as a part of the Derby Housing Market Area) is in place will the Localism Act come into play, allowing communities like ours to influence the location and approval of large-scale building proposals. However, because Amber Valley Borough Council has accepted plans based on developer preferences and land ownership and designated large builds in towns which only have very limited open green space left, there will be no choice, if the Core Strategy is passed, but to build on the plots identified and preferred by the developers. There is no other land available for the massive amount of housing each town is being allocated.

Amber Valley consists of some 26,500 hectares, (65,000 acres) around 102 square miles. ALL of the proposed large builds – around 4,600 houses - are to be built in an area of approximately 10 square miles around the town of Ripley. That equates to a considerable and unwarranted burden on 10% of the land area of Amber Valley.

Of the 9,000 houses it is suggested will be required in Amber Valley by 2028 around 4,500 already have planning permission leaving, according to Nigel Mills MP 4,414. These numbers equate to 276 houses per year between now and 2028. If brownfield sites were used as a first option, it could reduce that figure considerably; let’s say to 176 per annum. This would then equate to a couple of houses in each town/village over the whole of Amber Valley per annum. This is less contentious. Some of the small villages with no proposed new housing would welcome the building of a few homes so families can stay in the same community.

As well as the above mentioned problems, we also have a significant issue of flooding and neat sewage in water courses. Water sewerage and drainage capacity is over burdened already as over the past 20 to 40 years this area has been bombarded with new builds and the antique drainage system is clearly incapable of taking anymore.

We are therefore, critical of the process, calculations, viability, and sustainability of such large-scale building proposals. We maintain that the transport and water infrastructure cannot cope and the builds are unreasonably sited in the most populous areas on the east side of the Borough to the detriment of the current inhabitants.

This is clearly NOT sustainability as per the NPPF;

Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves, it doesn’t mean worse lives for future generations.

Unless this just means people who live on the west of the A38 in Amber Valley.

Your own statement says that the new Bill:

"Will promote decentralisation and democratic engagement, and we will end the era of top-down government by giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals."

This is highly unlikely as Amber Valley Borough Council is not engaging with town and parish councils. It has hardly attended any of the Neighbourhood Plan fora and offers little to no assistance to the Neighbourhood Forum project. It rebuffs the attempts of communities and individuals to oppose the devastation of our communities and villages by making them into one massive conurbation

This Bill has also proven not to be effective in a recent case here in Amber Valley where planning permission was sought by Peveril Homes (AV/2011/0528) for 98 houses on Codnor Common (common land). The Planning Board unanimously rejected this build - it has been stopped on several occasions in the past - as the land is SSI, and it is also a departure from the local plan. Peveril Homes appealed, a government inspector was bought in and stated that the land must have a buffer area between the two villages of Codnor and Waingroves. Peveril Homes agreed to this. The inspector took this decision AWAY from local town councillors, community and individuals and allowed the appeal. Peveril Homes has since put in a second application for 79 houses on the common land taking away the buffer zone.

The Localism Bill is clearly NOT working, it is not "giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals." It continues to favour large developers and is run by government hundreds of miles away, removed from knowledge and understanding of the local situation.

Amber Valley Borough Council is ‘ticking the boxes’ by holding consultations that are poorly promoted, managing to ensure any opposition is marginalised, and promoting subjective information not objective.

The most recent being Europe’s largest solar panel farm, which people were informed about on the 9th November with 21 days to lodge comments with the Council. Even though this considerable application in four parts is a departure from the local plan, the Council plans to consider it under delegated powers. This proposed build is AGAIN on greenbelt land, AGAIN in the east of the Amber Valley Borough, and most of the locals have NOT even been informed of this project and have been given only the statutory minimum time to research, analyse, and consider a response to the proposal.

Whilst we would love to become the solar capital of the EU, we would prefer panels to be sited on house roofs or lamppost tops, not valuable green belt land - OUR valuable green belt land which is, under this present government, in rapid decline, counter to the promises made so recently.

Another problem this Growth Bill is causing is the changes to the process of Village Green applications on land already earmarked for building. This is another major setback for democracy and communities everywhere. While land development companies and local authorities have staff being paid to find and bring forward spurious and speculative planning applications on green spaces, communities do not get paid to fight to protect land. This Bill penalises those with sound cases and that cannot be right under any circumstances. This Bill removes any chance for communities to save land from predatory developers. This is appalling legislation and it will cost all of us in the end. You are telling us that you know what is best for us. This is socialism – top down decision-making - and runs counter to real Conservatism and to the British way of life. ALL our green space land is earmarked for building and our ONLY way of trying to save any for the public in this area would be to apply for Village Green status, but we will soon not be able to do that!

For your information I am attaching a list of proposed large builds by hectare, this is not the total extent of proposed builds in our area, there are many small ones as well and others that have been passed and are on hold. I am also attaching a map of the Ripley area with potential builds blocked out, from which you can see pretty much all of the local open space is planned for building upon, We reject this plan as fervently as we can, but the Borough Council persist in trying to push it through to the detriment of the residents of Amber Valley East and the benefit of those residing to the west of Amber Valley.

November 2012

Total Hectares in AVBC over 26,500

Amber Valley EAST approx one third 8,833 Hectares

Proposed builds East A38

Status

Total houses

Hectares

Outseats farm Alfreton

OGS

520

20.16

Greenwich Ripley

GB

550

31.30

Codnor Common

OGS

200

16.00

Codnor Greenbelt

GB

550

26.50

Loscoe / Heanor

OGS/BR

500

19.40

Coppice Farm Ripley

OGS

360

20.20

Cinderhill Denby

OGS

1800

85.20

American adventure Shipley

BR

400

80.00

Small build at Riddings

GB

Caravan site

Street Lane Denby

GB

Solar fields

50.00

Crematorium

OGS

3.00

Amber Valley West

Radbourne Mackworth

OGS

600

Potential Builds East

Chesterfield Road Alfreton

OGS

520

17.35

Birchwood lane Somercotes

OGS/Br

680

22.70

Lily St Swanick

OGS

1430

47.71

Derby Rd Swanwick

GB

660

32.97

Heritage Fm Riddings

GB

2000

66.00

Heage Rd Marehay

GB

3000

96.49

Cinderhill Denby (original)

OGS/GB

3000

130.00

Newlands Heanor (original)

OGS/GB

4.000

94.00

Hardy Barn Heanor

GB

795

27.00

Codnor Common/ Copice

OGS

1600

36.13

Potential Builds West

Far Laund Belper

GB

1080

30.65

Mill Lane Belper

OGS

820

22.31

Markeaton Stones Mackworth

OGS

2000

132.46

Radbourne Mackworth

OGS

4860

182.00

OGS = Open green space

GB = Green belt

Br = Brownbelt

Prepared 22nd November 2012