Fate of homes bid lies with inspector

Residents and councillors attend the first day of a three day planning inquiry at Ripley Town Hall into a Peveril Homes bid to build at Codnor.
Residents and councillors attend the first day of a three day planning inquiry at Ripley Town Hall into a Peveril Homes bid to build at Codnor.

A valuable green gap between two settlements could be ‘destroyed’ if an appeal bid for 79 homes west of Holborn View, Codnor is passed.

Those were among the final submissions of Andrew Hogan, as he addressed a planning inquiry on behalf of Amber Valley Borough Council this week.

The council had turned down Peveril Homes’ bid for a mixture of houses and recreational space twice - once in and once in May and once in August- but the Belper-based company launched an appeal.

A three day hearing into the firm’s bid concluded at Ripley Town Hall on Thursday, October 24.

Mr Hogan said in his final statement: “This inquiry is invited to find that if this development proposal goes through the gap will be effectively destroyed - although there will be a physical space between the edges of the developments of Codnor and Ripley – what will remain will be a de facto open recreation space within a built up area rather than a substantial space separating two built up areas.”

Mr Hogan said that the land - an ‘agricultural field’ which forms part of what is widely known as Codnor Common – had been afforded protection from various plans since 1987.

Back then the Secretary of State had refused a similar housing scheme on the same site to preserve the ‘gap’ between the two settlements.

The bid Mr Hogan said, must be considered in relation to the 98 homes already approved on Codnor Common through a separate application.

But as Amber Valley is currently lagging behind its five year housing target by nearly two years - policies contained in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) take a higher precedence over the council’s current Local Plan, which affords protection to building on the countryside.

Both sides differed on whether the application meets this Government set criteria for ‘sustainable’ development.

Mr Hogan said Peveril Homes’ bid would only contribute to a fraction of housing need.

However Andrew Williamson on behalf of the firm said the inspector could not afford much weight to Amber Valley’s Core Strategy, due for implementation in 2014 and Ripley Town Council’s Neighbourhood plan - as both housing blueprint documents are still in the draft stage.

In support of the scheme he said the building work would ‘more than likely be carried out by a local contractor’ and suggested the 30 per cent mix of ‘affordable housing’ contained in the application would be ‘keenly welcomed’ by local people’.

In refusing the original housing application twice he said Amber Valley’s planning board members were swayed by a ‘vociferous campaign’ against the plan by residents - as it had been recommended for approval by council officers. But defending the councillors on the board, Mr Hogan said: “It’s not right to say the officers’ advice has been ignored - it’s really been superseded by members exercising their democratic mandate.”

Planning inspector Stuart Nixon is expected to return a decision on the appeal by the first week of December.