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WORRRIED Swanwick residents fear the village could be a target for developers to build 500 new homes after changes in the government’s planning policy.

A huge area of land to the south of South Street and Minster Way in the village has been earmarked as a potential site for housing development at a recent set of ‘drop-in’ events organised by Amber Valley Borough Council.

Development on the green belt site, which would stretch from Swanwick to the northern tip of Butterley reservoir in Ripley would effectively join the village and town together.

Heading up the Swanwick campaign to put a stop to the plans is Derby Road resident and chairman of Ripley Hospital’s League of Friends, John Briggs.

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He said: “We assume that green belt land is protected, but it’s not , it is becoming a very fragile issue. Nowhere will be protected land before too long.

“Whatever happens in Swanwick, win or lose, we will fight this at every possible stage because that’s how we feel about it.”

The ongoing ‘drop-in’ meetings, organised by the borough in conjunction with Derby City and South Derbyshire District Councils, are asking residents to consider a number of possible sites in the borough including four in Ripley and two in Heanor.

The authorities have identified each site as potentially suitable for a large housing development.

And to add to the residents’ worries the Government has just announced its Draft National Planning Policy Framework, which could make it easier to build on green belt land.

The bill proposes to amend the existing planning laws by lifting barriers blocking new developments and promoting sustainable growth.

However critics have argued the proposals place too much power in the hands of developers.

Mr Briggs has urged Swanwick residents to attend an emergency meeting of the parish council on Thursday, August 25 at the Swanwick Centenary Centre on Chapel Street. It will give residents a chance to voice their concerns over the potential future houses.

mr briggs and several other campaigners are planning to put posters and billboards up around the area, asking people to ‘say no’ to development at the Swanwick site.

Parish councillor, Dennis Fretwell is also supporting the campaign. He said: “the view of the parish council has always been to try and retain the village environment of Swanwick and separation between Alfreton and Ripley.

“This plan is in our view ridiculous. It represents a growth of Swanwick in enormous proportions and we don’t have the resources for that kind of development.”