A dramatic last-minute repeal was granted to the Belper Lane development as Amber Valley Borough Council referred the controversial application back to the planning board.
Planning permission was first granted on 18th December last year for Wheeldon Brothers to build 65 homes, however, concerns were made about the decision process particularly given its closeness to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unlike the Bullsmoor site application, the Secretary Of State declined to call-in this decision and it seemed that the development was moving forward.
Events changed on 19th February when the decision was put on hold by the Council. At the time AVBC stated that “expert legal opinion is being sought urgently in order to provide advice to the Council and Planning Board on the issues raised above…specifically on the implications of ‘revocation’ of the planning permission.”
Increasing pressure mounted on the Council from both local residents and Councillors. Cllr Ben Bellamy (Lab) submitted a motion to revoke the permission and legal advice was sought for a Judicial review to be held on the application.
On 2nd March the Council decided, having received ‘expert legal opinion,’ that it would return the Belper Lane application to the planning board to be re-examined from scratch.
This revised report will focus in particular on the balancing exercise required under paragraph 134 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which states “Where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use”.
Cllr Ben Bellamy said: “I don’t believe that they had a choice here – there were huge flaws with the planning report and misrepresentations of consultees. A fair report is unlikely, in my opinion, to recommend the application.”
Cllr Buttery, Leader of AVBC, said: “I have discussed the issues with the relevant officers and been advised of independent legal opinion.
Having considered all the circumstances, I believe the correct course of action is to refer the planning application back to the Planning Board.”
Paul Terry, a member of the community group against new homes on Belper Lane, said: “The report now has to be rewritten and will go before the planning board on the 16th April. It seems the only sensible decision and I hope that the correct information is put before the elected members.”
The planning board meeting for Belper Lane AVA/2017/1128 will be held on 16th April.