Controversial Derbyshire housing and business park plan thrown out after scores of objections

The proposed site of the Bullsmoor development
The proposed site of the Bullsmoor development

Plans for a new business park and 150 houses near Belper have been kicked out after a public inquiry – the scheme would have created more than 650 jobs.

The controversial development, put forward by Peveril Homes Ltd and Vaillant Group UK Ltd, would have been built in fields off Nottingham Road – on land known locally as Bullsmoor.

Plans for the site, 23 acres to the rear of the firm’s existing factory, at which domestic boilers are made, came before the Amber Valley Borough Council planning board in November.

The scheme was divided into two applications, one for 150 houses and a factory extension, and the other for the business park.

It faced fierce opposition from the public and Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham due to its location within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Buffer Zone. An objection was also made by Historic England.

In total, 105 members of the public submitted letters objecting to the overall scheme.

A public inquiry was held for seven days from April 10 at Ripley Town Hall.

Yesterday, government planning inspector Colin Ball, revealed his decision on the overall scheme.

He stated that planning permission for the developments should be refused due to the “serious harm” which they would have on the area.

Mr Ball stated that any benefits from the scheme were outweighed by this damage.

He wrote: “The development proposal would cause serious harm to the unchanged historic countryside into which the pioneering industrial development was inserted and which now provides a valued rural landscape setting for the built development.

“Being able to appreciate the 18th/19th century industrial complexes in an 18th/19th century landscape is an important attribute of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

“Taking account of the negative impact on the significance of Pottery Farm (a Grade II-listed farm site to the north of the site on Kilbourne Road) and the setting of the Belper and Milford Conservation Area, the loss of part of the valued landscape would reduce the authenticity of that attribute, causing permanent and irreversible damage to the outstanding universal value and significance of one of the country’s most valuable heritage assets.”

He did concede that building of 150 houses, of which 45 would be affordable housing, presented clear benefits and addressed a significant shortfall in supply, but that this was not enough to overturn the negative impacts.

Mr Ball continued “On balance, giving significant weight to the identified harm to the World Heritage Site and the other heritage assets, I consider that the public benefits of the proposed development do not outweigh that harm.”

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, could still overrule the decision of the planning inspector.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service