Belper’s World Heritage Status has been endangered by the decision of the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, to allow building on Whitehouse Farm, on Belper Lane. Whitehouse Farm is in the Buffer Zone for the World Heritage Site.
If the development goes ahead, the site, which is inside the Buffer Zone for the World Heritage Site, will significantly alter the look of the area and the Belper is likely to be labelled as “at risk” by UNESCO, one step away from losing World Heritage Status. The Buffer Zone is an area around the mills which cannot be changed so that the look of the World Heritage Site remains the same, preserving the historical image.
Since the last election, AVBC council has been working on solving the problem of there being no 5 year housing supply identified, and excluding the out of date Derby provision, and to build the long missing Local Plan required for the area. How much housing we need, and where it can go without harming the town has been identified, but the inspector, Geoff Underwood, appears to have used old figures from the previous council’s never active Local Plan, which included Green Belt and Buffer Zone sites in potential sites for building. These have all now been excluded by the current council. The inspector did not use the current figures.
However the builder, Wheeldons (Pride Park, Derby), appealed the council’s decision to rescind the planning permission , and with the Secretary of State approving the planning permission, AVBC will now be left to pay the cost of the appeal, at a time when the council is struggling for money.
Wheeldon’s plan is to build either 118 or 65 houses on the site of Whitehouse Farm. They will still be subject to the council’s requirement of 30% affordable/social housing.
The Secretary of State’s decision is based on his belief, informed by the inspector’s report, that there is not enough “significant harm” caused by the development to deny it. However the harm to Belper will be the loss of its World Heritage Status. There are six weeks to appeal, but this can only be hinged on a “point of law.”
UNESCO are being informed and will hopefully assist in appealing the decision. The Community Group Against Houses In Mount Pleasant are reviewing the decision and deciding on what action to take next.
In the same decision Bessalone was spared and denied development, but this doesn’t help retain the World Heritage Status and if World Heritage Status is lost then all other sites will be more difficult to protect from further development and the whole town could be at risk of excessive development and permanent loss of historical character.
In the meantime Belper residents can write their objections to Robert Jenrick via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Tweet complaints and criticism of the decision to him: @RobertJenrick
More to follow when all parties have time to read and analyse the very long documents involved.