With the current NEDDC Local Plan under scrutiny by the Planning Inspector, we remind readers about the involvement of the Civic Society and residents who fought hard seventeen years ago to save Green Belt land below Shakespeare Crescent allocated for housing development.
Local celebrity Dave Berry and campaigners presented a petition signed by more than 3500 residents to the Council.
The campaigners battled for three years to save 11.7 hectares of Green Belt land below Shakespeare Crescent and 17.5 hectares of land on Callywhite Lane near to the ancient Frith Wood and a significant national remnant of industrial archaeology. Campaigners said what the Council proposed would have a disastrous environmental impact, would wipe out the boundary between Unstone and Dronfield and they stated that there were other sites that could be used. Sound familiar?
The Local Plan formulated by the district council went to a Planning Inspector. The Report issued by the Inspector in March 2005 recommended that the Council should amend it to maintain the Green Belt. So what has changed this time?
The plans to extend Callywhite Lane were also similar to today. The Inspector doubted whether the area would be sufficiently attractive to developers and because there were large areas of brownfield land on the A61 Chesterfield corridor which would be more attractive to businesses, the likelihood of securing investment for the expansion of Callywhite Lane was increasingly uncertain and unlikely.
She said, “In the light of such uncertainty it is increasingly difficult to support the removal of land from the Green Belt.”
CPRE stated that this is an area loved by walkers. It has important archaeological remains and is a home for wildlife. Green Belt is supposed to be protected permanently and this kind of development should take place on more suitable brownfield sites or vacant and existing industrial land.
Campaigners also raised issues of a lack of infrastructure to support the development and the detrimental impact on the town.
The Council took the Inspector’s recommendations on board and the land below Shakespeare Crescent was saved until now.
So why is the Inspector now allowing development on the land below Shakespeare?
The town still hasn’t the infrastructure to support an increased population. The area is still a haven for wildlife. The distinction between Unstone and Dronfield will still be lost. The area is still popular with walkers and the archaeological remains remain. A petition with more than 4000 signatures was handed over to the Council to oppose development upon it. There are brownfield sites within the district that could be used. The Green Belt is still meant to be permanent. The land below Shakespeare hasn’t changed and robustly meets Green Belt purposes. Green Belt has supposedly been given more protection in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Shakespeare site has been put forward for development in spite of all this and the Inspector’s Report of 2005 which recommended that the Green Belt should be maintained.