CONCERNED Swanwick people voiced their fears about the potential expansion of the village with 1,000 new houses at a special meeting on Monday night.
More than 1,800 people have signed a petition calling on the council to withdraw two sites - Greenbelt land south of South Street and a Greenfield site at Lily Street Farm - from a long-list of possible locations for new homes, known as a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).
Residents met a Local Development Framework Working Group made up of Amber Valley councillors and officers at the meeting. Swanwick parish councillor Peter Staton warned that the parish council would take legal action if necessary. “The people of Swanwick will not flinch from the fight,” he said.
Resident John Briggs said: “Swanwick is our home. I have lived there for 40 years. It’s incumbent on all of us to leave a legacy for future generations.”
Their petition said: “Swanwick has undergone significant housing development over the years. The population density is over twice the borough average, and we feel the regeneration of Brownfield sites should be the priority.”
Resident John Payne spoke of the Derby Road site’s ‘encroachment around a sewage works and two geological faults in the area’, he claimed.
While resident Mike Bayan asked for assurances that Greenbelt sites would be taken off the list. Howard Hall, also from the area, said Swanwick was home to 65 species of birds, 14 of which are on endangered list, and was on a recognised migration route.
Planning officer Rob Thorley explained the SHLAA - a list of 17 potential housing sites - was a database that the Government required local authorities to keep and that a shortlist of preferred sites for development would be revealed by late spring or early summer.
No decision has been made as yet, he said, but to remove Swanwick from the list now could risk a legal challenge from developers and jeopardise the council’s legal obligations to the Planning Inspectorate. He said that Brownfield sites had not been added to the list because the SHLAA was only concerned with larger sites of over 500 homes.
Mr Thorley said: “In the past ten years, 85 per cent of the council’s housing has been on Brownfield sites and that’s why Brownfield is very limited.”
He said the East Midlands Regional Plan, which calls for 510 new homes to be built per year in Amber Valley until 2028 – was in the process of being scrapped by the Localism Act. The Government Office of National Statistics estimates that figure should be increased to 584 per year, but the council had commissioned a report to check whether this projection is valid.
Cllr Stephen Hayes said the possible new settlement at Cinderhill could “take a lot of pressure from Amber Valley. So we could do with some support from all people concerned if it comes to having debates about where sites would be.”
Another meeting of the group is to be held to discuss possible locations at Codnor and Waingroves and land at Hardy Barn in Heanor, at 7pm on Wednesday, March 7, at Ripley Town Hall.