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New sites for 1,500 homes may be needed

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Amber Valley may need to find land for as many as 1,500 houses following the suspension of a inquiry by a Government planning inspector last week.

Amber Valley Borough Council was given six extra months to revise its ‘core strategy’ development blueprint document, which includes allocating land for new homes, after the inspector heard that some sites earmarked for housing could fall through.

The authority was due to find out this week what the new targets are following concerns about the cost and deliverability of sites at Nottingham Road in Ripley and Alfreton Road in Codnor, as well as a duty to help Derby meet its housing allocation.

Derek Stafford, assistant director of planning at the authority said: “The inspector is going to suspend the examination for six months so officers can address issues about housing.

“He will have to finalise his position in terms of what additional housing is needed in the Derby housing area. When we have a figure for Amber Valley we will have to see where we can accommodate them.

“Until the inspector writes to us we don’t know what the figure is. In the event we need to find further housing, we will go through a proper process looking at a number of possible sites.”

Last week the council announced the number of houses on the Codnor site would be reduced from 600 to 500 as local schools would not cope with the extra pupils.

Amber Valley, along with South Derbyshire District Council, has a ‘duty to co-operate’ with Derby because the city cannot meet its own housing needs.

Between 2011 and 2028 Amber Valley must find 8,469 houses – just under 500 a year.

A change of political power after the May 22 local elections could also jeopardise some of the proposed sites for housing, it is feared.

If the Nottingham Road and Codnor sites are not taken forward the shortfall of 
additional housing will increase by another 1,000 homes.

Ripley town and Derbyshire county councillor Steve Freeborn, who gave evidence at the inquiry, said: “Can it be sustainable to build two miles of new link road just to create access to a site when there are other sites that have been rejected even though they don’t need access?”

Cllr Freeborn added there were also issues over land ownership, but the council has denied they would be a barrier to pushing the schemes ahead.

Critics of the areas allocated for homes in Amber Valley claim Ripley and Heanor will bear the brunt of the sites, while Belper has much fewer earmarked land.

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