MP speaks out on development plans

AMBER VALLEY MP Nigel Mills has won the backing of campaigners fighting to protect the greenbelt from new developments after he made a speech in the House of Commons.

Tory Mr Mills spoke out in a debate about the National Planning Policy Framework last week and backed the report’s statement that greenbelt boundaries should “only be altered in exceptional circumstances.”

Discussing the Gateway project to build new homes and a supermarket on land off Nottingham Road, he warned that councils “need to bear in mind the damage” to existing town centre shops as the supermarket grows and gets more popular. He said: “The last thing that any of us wants is to lose any greenbelt, which is so valuable to our communities. greenbelt should be changed only where it absolutely has to be. I urge my local council to bear that in mind as it looks at options for future housing development.

“We should say, ‘Okay, we have a presumption in favour of sustainable development, but we also have a strong presumption against development in the greenbelt.’ We do not want councils to reduce the size of the Greenbelt when they set their local plans.”

Campaigner Jonathan Hunt, of Marehay, said: “The thing that impresses me is that he’s implying that all the greenbelt should be protected. Why doesn’t Government start with brownfield sites that have the potential for development? All of the sites identified in the Strategic Housing Options report are greenfield or greenbelt. Who in their right mind made that decision?

“He’s saying that there should be more development around Derby but towns with semi-rural status like Ripley should be left alone. There are plenty of empty properties in the area that could be renovated.”

The National Planning Policy Framework, a draft of which is now out for public consultation, sets out the Government’s plan to “free” firms and communities from a planning system “that can be slow, costly and gives them no certainty”.

It claims that development will not be allowed if it is “clearly in conflict with the environmental and other safeguards in the Framework”, but critics question whether its “presumption in favour of sustainable development” will mean a default ‘yes’ to new builds and are concerned that the environment is protected. In a recent letter to Peter Carney, chief executive of Amber ValleyBorough Council , Mr Mills urged it to redevelop brownfield sites and reminded it of the need to obtain agreement from potentially affected communities through the Neighbourhood Planning Process.