Tuesday 19 April 2016

AVBC May 2016 elections .... Cox .... judge me on housing 1

Clr Alan Cox's election leaflet features an invitation to judge him on his performance over the past 17 years on a range of issues, amongst which is housing. Now this is a big subject and 17 years worth of statements and decisions takes some wading through so BelperStuff will be dealing with it in two posts. "Cox .........judge me on housing 2" will be forensic, looking specifically at the demographic requirement for housing in Amber Valley and comparing the performance of AVBC to meet that need.

Post 1 is much more straightforward and deals with the confusion that Tory propaganda creates, specifically contradictory statements by Cox regarding green field development. I'll get right to it.

Spring in the valley, Belper (James Henry Crossland 1852 - 1939) Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Cox election leaflet April 2016

Cox has implied in his election leaflet that voting for Labour will unleash full scale development on green belt and heritage protected land:

If they (meaning Labour) get back in power they will put houses on Bullsmoor and will they stop there? Is Bessalone next? And then Blackbrook? Broadholme? The Chevin?

Contrast this with the Cox statement in May 2015

On the 6th May 2015 (the day before the election for town, borough and parliament) Clr Alan Cox was reported in the Belper News thus: Housing rumours in Belper are dismissed.

Councillor Alan Cox says there has been a flurry of rumours regarding potential housing developments on the site of Bessalone Hill.
However, Councillor Cox insists that the site remains part of the green belt and that, for the time being, there are no plans in the pipeline to develop the site.
He says it is ‘unlikely’ that there will be any development on the site before 2028 - under the terms of the current Core Strategy
Cllr Cox told the Belper News: “There have been increasing rumours about the possibility of land at Bessalone Hill in Belper being developed for housing.
“I can assure the residents of Belper that these rumours are exactly that and are simply rumours.
“The facts of the matter are that JC Balls and Sons, the owners of the land, have applied to have the site allocated in the Strategic Housing Land Allocation Availability (SHLAA) for possible future development.
“This document is held as a list of sites which may be available for development in the future.

“The current Core Strategy, which is under consideration, covers all housing development up to the year 2028.
“There is no reference to the Bessalone site in this document. Therefore it is unlikely that there will be any development on this site before that date.
“The land is in the green belt, whose primary purpose is to stop communities, in this case Belper and Heage, coalescing into one.
“This is a very important consideration to be taken into account before any land is allocated for development.”

Cox blatantly creating rumours

The two statements co-exist within Clr Alan Cox's head. Green belt is safe but also not safe. Which does he believe?

The only site that is currently endangered is Bullsmoor and there has been a huge protest in the town against this with many petitioning directly into the core strategy process. Remember that strategy? This allows for a structured and considered approach to housing which includes the associated development of schools and health facilities where needed but the AVBC Tories have withdrawn from that process. It is astonishing that Tories who believe in market forces should then blame private developers for their own failure to plan properly for Amber Valley as was reported in the Derby Telegraph in December 2015:

In that article Cox says, "................I fear there will be more applications on land which is unsuitable and will have a negative impact on residents. This could include green belt land". 

This is a statement made by the leader of a borough council who is also the chairman of the planning committee that has to approve all planning applications. If an application is made to build on green belt, buffer or English/World Heritage protected land then it is but a routine matter for the planning authority to refuse such applications. From Clr Alan Cox's own statements the implication is that the Tory controlled AVBC has lost control of the housing strategy.

In conclusion

It has been an eventful 12 months in Amber Valley housing strategy ........... or should that be the Amber Valley lack of a housing strategy. What has changed in those 12 months that has led Cox to state:

  • May 2015 - Bessalone Hill safe from development.
  • May 2015 - No chance of development on Green Belt land. This is assured by the Core Strategy at least until 2028.
  • December 2015 - Applications will be made to build on Green Belt with a negative impact on residents.
  • April 2016 - Is Bessalone next?

The only element that has actually changed is that on May 6th 2015 Labour were in control of Amber Valley Borough Council but now it is controlled by Cox and his Tories.

You may be interested in looking at this BelperStuff blog from December 2015 - Local Tory housing strategy in ruins

A brief note on Bullsmoor

Extract from AVBC 2011 document
It should be remembered that under the Tories, in the Amber Valley Borough Local Plan (2006) Bullsmoor was designated a site for industrial development. This document: Draft Development Brief, Bullsmoor, Belper 2011 describes the intention as stated here:

A development brief for this site will provide a framework against which detailed development proposals can be considered. The Brief site forms allocated for business and industrial development in the Amber Valley Borough Local Plan (2006) and the Council is committed to producing a development brief for this site".

It is well known in the town that Bullsmoor is currently only protected by the fall back in global economic activity. The designation of Bullmoor for industrial and commercial development has been actively promoted by the Tories in Amber Valley. Bullsmoor is under threat because it is far easier to re-assign land from commercial to housing use than from green field or heritage protected status.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But didn't the then Labour Led AVBC Council want to turn the Bullsmoor site into Housing under the 2014 Core Strategy? and when the then Conservative opposition tried to have the recommendations removed Here is the recommendation: (it is recommended that the sites should be proposed as an additional strategic site, with capacity in total for around 250 dwellings) They were outvoted by the Labour group in the October 2014 Extraordinary full council meeting meaning that the recommendation went through.