Thursday, September 28, 2023

Brownfield Building to Double Nether Heage

Nether Heage is set to almost double in size with plans in the pipeline for scores of new homes.

The latest plans set for Nether Heage, north of Belper, would again feature the former factory site known as Firs Works. Garner Holdings is behind the proposals – which have been recommended for approval – for 175 houses to be built on the site of the former prisoner of war camp.

The site is currently home to a range of industrial units.

Previously, in the Second World War, it had been a prisoner of war camp – known as “Camp No. 58” – and later became home to LB Plastics, which makes windows, doors and conservatory roofs, among other products.  Since the firm moved, a range of companies have taken on the remaining industrial units, but a third of these are vacant.

Now, the 26.7-acre site off Spanker Lane could be flattened, with all buildings demolished, to make way for 175 homes in an application pitched by Roger Hartshorn, the owner of Garner Holdings and HL Plastics.

Of the 175 homes, 27 would be flats.  More than 50 of the houses would be affordable homes.

Also included in the proposals is a community hall, but the borough council said that this could not be made into a legally-binding commitment because it simply does not have the powers to ensure this.

In November, Amber Valley Borough Council approved plans, also from Garner Holdings, to build 30 houses opposite the Firs Works site.  As part of that plan, a large, vacant storage building on the factory site was to be demolished to make way for a 195-space car park.  Despite the approved car park lying within the same site area as the proposed 175 homes, it is not included in the plans.

The borough council is set to give the proposal the go-ahead at a meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

If councillors follow the recommended approval given by officers, Nether Heage would be set for 205 houses.

With the village currently only boasting 267 homes, this would be an increase of more than 75 per cent.

Meanwhile, the developer says that despite the site being demolished, business will not be lost in the borough.

A planning report says:

“The intention is to move to a more suitable site and capture the uplift in this site and re-invest it into a larger, higher quality site. This will be located within Amber Valley (if possible) and therefore the borough will gain economic benefits from the new development.”

The borough council says that it does not have the legal powers to “insist” that the company relocates within the borough.

Ripley Town Council, along with 45 residents, has lodged objections to the plans.

The town council says that the increase in homes would “without doubt, significantly compromise the character and nature of the village”.

It also says that there is a complete lack of employment opportunities in the village, with the only remaining site being at Firs Works and with the village’s only community facility, Spanker Public House, having a “chequered history of spasmodic closure”.

Concerns raised by residents focus on the perceived impact on roads in the area, which they say are already “dangerous” and fear that this would worsen.  They also say that the homes would represent an “unpleasant intrusion” on the landscape, and affect views from the Grade-II listed Heage Windmill a kilometre away.

Planning officers say that the current “lack of housing supply” in Amber Valley “is a significant material consideration which weighs in favour of the proposals”.  They state: “The proposal constitutes a sustainable form of development, re-developing a brownfield site. It is acknowledged access to jobs, services and facilities would be more reliant on the private car. However, Spanker Lane is served by a bus route. The council’s conservation consultant considers that the proposed housing, within the vicinity of the mill, particularly at this distance, would be not be incongruous or harmful to its setting.”

The county council’s highways department has said that the development would not create a severe impact on the area’s road’s, largely due to the “lack of any accident trends or patterns” around the site.

Image: an artist’s impression of the site for 175 homes

Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)

Eddie writes for Nailed through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, in partnership with the BBC. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a partnership of media outlets sharing reporters to cover council meetings.

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