MP says opposition to massive Clowne housing plan cannot be ignored

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MP Mark Fletcher says opposition to the proposed massive Clowne Garden Village housing development including hundreds of planning objections, a petition and his own survey cannot be ignored by Bolsover District Council.

The Labour-led local authority is considering Waystone Ltd’s planning application for the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme for 1,800 properties with 24 hectares of greenfield land for mixed-development and employment, as well as community and commercial facilities between Clowne and Barlborough.

Bolsover Conservative MP Mark Fletcher claims the planning application has attracted hundreds of planning objections, a Clowne Garden Village Action Group petition with over 1,300 names, and after his recent survey, he claims 95per cent of 276 residents who answered questions were opposed to the development.

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Mr Fletcher said: “Opposition to the proposals are clear. Whether that’s hundreds of planning objections, over 1,300 signatures on a local petition by the Clowne Garden Village Action Group, my own experience knocking on doors in Clowne and Barlborough, or the overwhelming opposition from the results of my survey.

Proposed Clowne Garden Village SiteProposed Clowne Garden Village Site
Proposed Clowne Garden Village Site

“To ignore the views of local residents would be a complete dereliction of duty to Clowne and Barlborough. To put it simply, how can a proposal with such overwhelming opposition proceed?

“It is a genuine question asked by most local residents who would quite rightly feel ignored should the proposals go ahead.”

The Clowne Garden Village survey was completed by 276 residents across the local community with 95per cent of respondents opposed and four per cent of respondents in favour of the scheme, according to Mr Fletcher.

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When respondents were asked if they thought local public services and infrastructure will cope with an additional 1,800 houses, Mr Fletcher claims 97per cent of respondents answered ‘No’.

Conservative Bolsover Mp Mark FletcherConservative Bolsover Mp Mark Fletcher
Conservative Bolsover Mp Mark Fletcher

He added that the two biggest concerns listed in the survey by residents were the impact of additional cars on the local road network and environmental issues like flooding and wildlife protection.

Other concerns raised by residents were the possible impact on local healthcare like access to GP services and dentists, the loss of green space, school places, and the lack of affordable housing, according to Mr Fletcher.

The Bolsover MP has written to Bolsover District Council to outline the results of the survey and asked them to strongly consider the feedback and not approve the proposals.

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He says the survey follows a recent response submitted on December 21 by Derbyshire County Council which stated ‘insufficient information has been submitted with this planning application in relation to its transport strategy’.

Clowne Garden Village Housing Protestors Rally For SupportClowne Garden Village Housing Protestors Rally For Support
Clowne Garden Village Housing Protestors Rally For Support

According to Mr Fletcher, the county council response added: “It has therefore not been demonstrated that the development is acceptable in transport terms or that appropriate access and travel options can be delivered as part of the proposals.’’

In correspondence to the district council, Mr Fletcher stated: ‘’I do not see how the development can go ahead without the approval of the Local Highways Authority.”

Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigners, from Clowne and Barlborough, have previously raised concerns about the development’s possible impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, as well as fears about drainage, flooding and overcrowding.

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Mr Fletcher has also previously claimed that the housing scheme could increase the population of the area by nearly 50 per cent and that the amount of actual affordable housing it will provide will only be negligible.

The council has stated that it is considering all submissions including concerns about the possible impact on the road network, the environment, flooding and the use of Green Belt land being freed-up for exempted-use.

Despite opposition to the housing plans, Waystone has also stated there is support for the scheme in terms of the potential for economic growth, facilities and jobs.

The council has also stated that it is continuing to deal with the planning application in accordance with legislation and guidance and it will be submitted to a future planning committee for consideration.

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Mr Fletcher added: “Whilst I have no control over planning, I will continue to represent the views of my constituents, and I hope that common sense prevails.’’

Campaigner Dom Webb who has been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of the massive residential planning application says he has written to the Secretary of State for the Home Department to consider the progress of the proposed Clowne Garden Village scheme.

Mr Webb has claimed when an original application was submitted after 2017 it did not match the district council’s Local Plan at that time and after the application was delayed it was then allegedly included prejudicially in the subsequent 2020 Local Plan which would support its progress.

The district council has, however, provided comprehensive explanations and a timeline claiming that the proposed development has always been part of the Local Plan since 2016 and it has insisted that consideration of the planning application will continue.

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Mr Webb has also claimed the release of Green Belt land from preservation to allow for the development was also allegedly unlawful because he claims there were no special circumstances to do this and this land should be returned to Green Belt protection.

But the district council has stated that following a robust review “exceptional circumstances” were cited legally allowing the removal of this area from Green Belt preservation.

The district council has stated it has to meet housing and affordable housing targets because of growing demand and nationwide shortages and there is a strategy to expand Clowne and this particular site could involve a progressive 20-year long process.

Bolsover District Council has repeatedly stressed it is continuing to fully consider all matters linked to the proposed housing development between the two Derbyshire villages, north of Clowne including part of the village centre off Hickinwood Lane.