Amber Valley residents to protest against Green Belt boundary changes

Unspoilt landscapes around Marehay may become a thing of the past if controversial Green Belt boundary changes are pushed through by Amber Valley Borough Council
Unspoilt landscapes around Marehay may become a thing of the past if controversial Green Belt boundary changes are pushed through by Amber Valley Borough Council

Residents are to stage a protest at next week’s Amber Valley Borough Council meeting as it votes on opening up swathes of green belt land for housing development.

The council will consider a report from its Green Belt boundary review at the meeting in Ripley on Monday, March 4.

Amber Valley Borough Councillor Mick Wilson is working with residents to oppose the plans.

Amber Valley Borough Councillor Mick Wilson is working with residents to oppose the plans.

Opposition members and concerned residents expect the controlling Conservative group to approve sweeping changes, affecting 15 sites across the borough.

The review arose from the borough’s Local Plan, as the national Planning Inspectorate questioned the council’s ability to meet housing quotas based on its proposed sites.

A spokesman for the council said: “The council must demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land on adoption of the Local Plan and meet a requirement for 9,770 dwellings between 2011 and 2028.

“The inspector paused the examination to enable the to identify additional housing sites for the Local Plan.”

K Somers, a Ripley resident opposed to Green Belt boundary changes around the town.

K Somers, a Ripley resident opposed to Green Belt boundary changes around the town.

The boundary changes to be voted on would remove Green Belt protections from areas of land near Heage Road and Nottingham Road in Ripley, and Derby Road, Upper Marehay Road, and Pear Tree Avenue in Marehay.

Other sites in the east of the borough are in Alfreton, Codnor, Heage and Heanor.

Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills has already said he opposes the plan, and will attend a public meeting at Marehay Miners’ Welfare this evening (Thursday) at 7pm to meet residents and councillors.

Around 260 residents turned out at short notice for a community meeting on the issue a few weeks ago.

K Somers, of the Save Marehay Greenbelt Facebook group, said: “We first heard about this in January and it feels like it’s being rushed through without much thought. We think there are brownfield sites which should be used first.

“Theses areas are home to protected species and walking routes, and infrastructure never seems to follow homes. It feels like communities are being swallowed up in sprawl.”

Marehay’s Labour councillor Mick Wilson said: “I invited council leaders to develop a cross-party alternative and they refused to talk. They are also restricting residents’ right to speak at the meeting.

“This isn’t about nimbyism, we know houses must be built, but people feel there are better solutions.”

n For maps of areas under threat and the full council erport, go to https://goo.gl/WoPwGK. If councillors approve the plans, a six-week public consultation period will follow.