Bid to build 100 homes near former 'toxic tip' in Derbyshire thrown out

The site of the homes planned at Somercotes.
The site of the homes planned at Somercotes.

A council has rejected plans for nearly 100 homes because “people’s lives could be at risk” from an old “toxic tip” nearby.

The proposals for 99 homes were submitted by Paul Newman New Homes for land close to Amber Valley Rugby Club, in Lower Somercotes.

Members of the Amber Valley Borough Council planning committee refused the plans – against the advice of their own officers on Monday.

Councillor Brian Lyttle said: “I know this site well and it is 150 yards away from a toxic tip.

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“We have had other developments turned down for this site and another nearby for the right reason – it is too dangerous. There has been no exploratory work done – and that should be done before it is built on. We don’t know what is down there or whether it is airborne or waterborne.

“The developer should be made, especially around a dangerous site like this, to find out what is underneath.

"There is no point them coming back at the reserved matters stage (to agree the details of the application) and for them to say what they have done. It is not good enough.”

Coun John McCabe said: “It is a dangerous site and people’s lives could be at risk. On top of that, the B600 is often backed up all the way to the A38. It is unbelievable that we have had plans turned down for this site before and these are recommended for approval.”

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Neil Arbon, agent for the applicant, said: “This would have a benefit to the public of open space and affordable houses. The borough has a five-year land supply but this should be considered as a minimum. The site is not considered to be contaminated and our investigations found that it is unlikely that there is gross contamination on the site.”

Coun John Walker said: “It says in our report that there is no previous site history but I have visited this site myself and four houses were recommended for refusal and were refused. There are major problems with the B600 and we are going to have another large shop called The Range nearby.

"This would be another 200 vehicles on the B600 and once again this is county highways not addressing the issues.”

Borough council officers have recommended that a condition should be attached to the application that if contamination previously unidentified is discovered, the developer must submit a revised development plan to the council for approval.

Councillors voted to reject the proposals – but there was a debate among council staff that if strong and clear reasons were not given for refusal, the applicant would win an appeal automatically.

However, Coun Lyttle was adamant that he had given strong and specific reasons for refusal and quoted a number of sections from the National Planning Policy Framework to support this.