Saturday, 23 May 2015

Derwent Street developments - Town Council objections

As promised in the Belper Town Council meeting 19/05/2015 blog post we are returning to the Derbyshire County Council (DCC) plans to build an elderly care/library/cafe/public facilities and square on the Thornton's Chocolate Factory site on Derwent Street. This was briefed to the town council (BTC) by John Owen, the Belper Councillor on the DCC but his report of the scheme gaining planning approval on May 18th was met with complete silence. This response was not a surprise as the BTC had opposed this development and submitted a number of objections to the Amber Valley planning committee : follow this link if you want more details.

Before we take a look at the BTC objections it seems logical to remind ourselves what this plan entails:

Proposal for development of Chocolate factory site ringed by red line
 This is named the "Belper Care Scheme" and comprises:

  1. 24 bed care facility for older people
  2. 50 care apartments (with 24/7 warden)
  3. New library
  4. Cafe and other shop units
  5. Additional space for community use such as health clinics or nurseries
Amazingly I am able to quote the Belper News for this specification as they deemed this news worthy of a front page splash though there is no mention of it on their website. Having made further enquiries directly with DCC I get the impression that items 4 and 5 will be subject to further consideration as to what the mix will be but the building will go ahead as planned. As Councillor Paul Jones, DCC deputy cabinet member for adult social care has stated, "We can now move on to the next stage which includes securing the land for development".

Thornton's Chocolate Factory frontage to be retained

So, if even the Belper News seem enthusiastic why does Belper Town Council object to the scheme?

Belper Town Council Objections 

BelperStuff comments in red.
  1. The impact of the development on the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and the Belper & Milford Article 4 Conservation area.  Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Partnership submission to the planning committee : "The proposal to retain the range of buildings fronting Derwent Street is welcomed as this is the section of the former factory building making the strongest contribution to the significance of the World Heritage Site, that is its Outstanding Universal Value, particularly with the textile link with the Castle Blouse factory; it is also the element with the most architectural and historic merit. This link should take you to the full heritage statement which is even more enthusiastic about the overall objectives of the scheme and its beneficial impact on the town.
  2. The ability of the development to support delivery of proposals within the land between the A6 and the River Derwent Supplementary Planning document. Is this the plan as contained in the original Core Strategy?
  3. The proposed development will be accessed via Derwent Street from its junction onto Bridge Street (A6). This junction is narrow and tightly constrained by listed buildings. As a major road, the A6 in the centre of Belper is congested and any intensification of vehicular use will exacerbate the situation. No traffic assessment has been undertaken to determine the impact this development will have on the A6 junction. Completely wrong as the plan drawing clearly shows access to be via the "Morrison's" roundabout. The DCC submission also clearly states that there will be no vehicular access via Derwent Street and amongst the submitted documents there is a traffic assessment. Did the BTC fail to look at the plan and other submissions?
  4. No assessment has been made of the impact of drainage from this proposed site, given its closeness to the floodplain of the River Derwent. Again, completely wrong as the submitted documentation includes both drainage and flood assessments. Is the BTC really suggesting that the Belper Care Scheme would put a greater strain on sewage and drainage than a factory of the size and nature of Thornton's Chocolates when it was in full production?
BelperStuff is beginning to think that the Belper Town Council objections were drawn up by Mr Potato Head.

The view from the bottom of Derwent Street, in fact leaning on the gate into the meadow.

In a spirit of generosity BelperStuff imagined that, once BTC had had a chance to read through all the documentation submitted to the planning committee they would modify their position as all their fears had been laid to rest but no mention of this scheme was made at the Town Council meeting last Tuesday evening ........... yes that's right ............ the most important development in Belper Town Centre for decades and the Tory town council has nothing to say about it.

Going back to the Belper News ............ it was heartening to read that the Chairman of Transition Belper, David George supported the initiative and went on to say,"This is probably the key site in Belper and that the opportunity should be grasped to design and build an exemplary zero carbon development that Derbyshire, Belper and Amber Valley can be rightly proud of". BelperStuff wholeheartedly agrees.

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