Plans to turn the former Derby College in Heanor into houses and apartments have been sent packing after a 15-minute council meeting.
The proposal, pitched to Amber Valley Borough Council by Vale Property Limited, was to turn the Grade II-listed building into 24 apartments, the former science block into a further nine apartments, and to build 19 houses in the college grounds.
However, last night, Monday, September 17, borough councillors voted to unanimously reject the plans.
This was the second time that the pitch had been brought before the borough council this year.
In June planning officers had recommended that the scheme should be rejected.
They felt that the proposal would inflict “substantial harm to the setting of the listed building” and also that they considered that insufficient information had been submitted to “fully assess the impacts of the development to allow full and proper consideration of the proposal”.
As a result, the application was deferred to allow the applicant to submit the necessary information.
Three months on from that committee, and just nine days short of a year since the proposals were first submitted, the applications were back on the table – but were set for rejection again.
Borough council officers remained steadfast in their opinion that there was “insufficient information” to make an informed decision.
On the night of the crunch debate in Ripley, councillors were confounded that the applicants had failed to submit any further information, despite the three-month deferral.
The whole meeting was brought to a close after just 15 minutes.
Coun John Walker asked “why has it been brought back to us? We are back here again and nothing has changed, there’s a sense of deja vu”.
Leonie George, spokesperson for the Heanor Grammar School Action Group, said: “We cannot express how critical it is not to defer any longer but to ensure that the condition of this building is not allowed to deteriorate any further and an optimal solution is found for this building and the central role it can play in the future of Heanor.”
Coun Paul Jones, spoke at the meeting as a member of Heanor and Loscoe Town Council.
He was a member of the borough council for 28 years until he was unseated in a shock upset at this year’s local elections.
Coun Jones said: “This must be one of the worst planning application reports I have ever read.
“Even the agent couldn’t be bothered to show up.
“As a town council, the applicant has shown no interest in what we have to say. This application process, if it wasn’t so serious, is really something that is almost laughable.
“It would decimate the historic heritage of this building.
“This is the most prestigious site in the town. This building needs to be something that the town can be proud of, it has the ability to be an anchor that can be built on.
“What we don’t want is for the applicant to sit on this and watch it fall down.”
Originally the Heanor Grammar School from 1912 until 1976, the site was then used by Derby College until 2013 – it has remained vacant since.
The government-funded conservation organisation Historic England has objected to the plans saying they would result in “substantial harm” to the listed building and the scheme “does not represent sustainable development”.
It has urged the developers to work closely with residents and the Heanor Grammar School Action Group to keep the buildings in community use.
Borough council planning officer, Alan Redmond, said: “Despite promises from the applicants for more information and prompts from ourselves, nothing further has come forward.
“From a planning perspective we are no further on.
“We are working with the applicant and Historic England to make sure that the site is better secured.”