House plan approved in Old Glossop, Charlestown demolition refused

HPBC's Development Control Committee met in Chapel this afternoon to decide three major planning applications in the Glossop area. The editor of the Glossop Gazette (doubling as chairman of Glossop Bat Group) went along to report on the proceedings. 

 

In brief: the proposal to demolish Charlestown Works was overwhelmingly rejected, despite planning officers recommending approval. The application to build houses and a car park on land north of Shepley Street was approved, despite four local councillors speaking in objection to the proposal and only one in favour. The application to demolish Hawkshead Mill was also rejected.

1. The application HPK/2012/0537 by  SEDDON HOMES LIMITED & THE PINSTRIPE CLOTHING CO. LIMITED for proposed demolition of Hawkshead Mill and the erection of 34 dwellings at Hawkshead Mill. Planning staff had recommended refusal based on encroachment into open countryside, layout and design concerns, the lack of information about bats and impact on biodiversity. Councillors Chris Webster (Independent, Old Glossop) and Garry Parvin (Labour, Old Glossop) spoke in support of the recommendation to refuse the application. On the Development Control committee Cllr Faulkner (Independent, Burbage) noted that there was no affordable housing proposed at the site and that a section 106 agreement for affordable housing off the site might be suitable. Committee member Cllr Oakley (Labour, Whitfield) said that there was a desperate need for more affordable housing in Glossop but not for more four and five bedroomed houses and Cllr Robert McKeown (Labour Hadfield South) expressed hopes that the site might be viable for industry in the future.

Voting took place so quickly that it was unrecordable. It might have been a unanimous vote to refuse the application.

2. HPK/2013/0056: MR MICHAEL JOHNSON & SEDDON HOMES LIMITED: Proposed demolition of existing industrial premises, erection of 44 dwellings with associated parking & landscaping & new car park for the Firth Rixson Superalloys Facility at land north of Shepley Street.
The planning officer recommended approval of the application and spoke of agreements made with the developer including £100,000 for the Duke of Norfolk School and £10,500 for allotments and recommended the development be permitted. Mr Phil Teece of Old Glossop Planning Group spoke against the objection, citing potential contaminants at the site that posed a moderate to high risk and insufficient information on European Protected Species at the site. An agent of the applicant said the application was "compliant with planning policy at all levels". Speaking against the application, Councillor Gary Parvin  said the land described as scrubland by the applicant had important aspects for biodiversity, and noted that all the affordable housing proposed was built on the land thought to be contaminated. He also said that when development occurred it should create local jobs. Councillor Chris Webster (Independent, Old Glossop) also spoke against the application, expressing concerns about overdevelopment of the site, "very serious concerns" about contamination on the land and the extra 4-500 car journeys per day that the development would generate on local roads. He pointed out that "nobody from that site will be walking to Tesco".  On the committee Councillor Young (Conservative, Chapel West) expressed safety concerns over the increased traffic and suggested better access along footpaths for emergency use. Councillor Thrane (Conservative, Temple) asked the planning officers for confirmation that Derbyshire Wildlife Trust had no objection to the development and suggested an extra condition be added to protect breeding birds. She said there was "no alternative" but to approve the application. Councillor Downson (Labour Cooperative, New Mills West) sighed loudly and stared at the ceiling. Councillor Todd (Labour, Buxton central) asked about oversupply of employment land and was told that no figure was available. She said the proposal would lead to overdevelopment with no open areas. Councillor Faulkner approved of the application and said that lots of hard work had gone into overcoming the objections. Councillor Pat Jenner (Labour, Tintwistle) expressed concerns over lack of adequate bat surveys and was sceptical about the provisions made in the application and said it should be refused. Councillor Robert McKeown  also favoured refusal, saying that the traffic in the area was chaotic when they conducted a site visit that morning, and that the 57% increase in traffic predicted by the development was unacceptable. He said that there was some potential for houses at the site, but not as many as had been proposed. Councillor Downson also opposed the application, citing loss of industrial areas, creation of a bottleneck, traffic load, concerns about loss of trees and bat habitat and saying the application had too many unknowns. Councillor Oakley supported the proposal, saying that there was plenty of affordable housing, the house designs were good, that although the site was a lovely green space it was not visible from any of the existing roads and that the road access from Shepley Street was better than Hope Street.
 Voting took place in a flash, and although Councillors McKeown, Jenner, Dyson and possibly Todd voted against the application, everybody else appeared to vote for  for it and the application was permitted.

The next item was about a housing development in Chapel and had attracted a substantial audience, almost all of whom were opposed to the proposal. It went on for a while, but was deemed beyond Mottram Moor. Again voting took place as quick as a flash and the application was approved. None of the audience were clear about exactly how many votes there had been for and against the application. Voting is literally over in a couple of seconds and could only be accurately recorded by video camera.  

3. HPK/2013/0053 by AITCHISON RAFFETY: Proposed demolition of existing structures & erection of up to 105 dwellings including 14 in the conversion of the former office building 1660m2 of B1 commercial floorspace & restoration of former mill pond area to create public open space at Charlestown Road.
The planning officer recommended approval of the application, despite a plethora of objections from consultees and the public. The Chairman Councillor Mellor (Independent, Hayfield)  said that this was one of the better industrial sites in Glossop and that work could not be provided if houses were built on industrial land.  Councillor Dowson said that there were too many houses ad that whilst the top site might be ok the bottom site was "way out of line". He objected to the proposal because it would result in the loss of an important industrial area. Councillor Faulkner spoke in favour, said they were "only being asked for outline permission" and that schemes could be implemented later to improve the development. He moved to propose the approval. Councillor Oakley agreed with Councillor Mellor's comments and said that although the area needed developing and was steadily deteriorating the developers should come back with two schemes that would be more acceptable. He pointed out that the site was not an abandoned brownfield area and that it contained existing industry which would be adversely impacted by housing development. He said that part of the site could be attractive to industry because of its location and that the bottom area should be considered as a nature area. He agreed that two separate schemes would be more suitable. Councillor Thrane seconded the move to approve the application, saying that the 5 year supply of housing was her main concern. However when it came to the vote it was defeated 9-2 and the proposal was refused.

Not all the committee appeared to be paying full attention all of the time, and neither was I. There were murmurs of discontent from the audience sometimes that made it difficult to hear what was going on. The speed of the vote made it impossible to record who voted which way when the results were close. Outside the meeting nobody was certain exactly who had voted for what.

There were 11 elected members of the committee together with staff from HPBC development control. Papers relating to this meeting can be found at http://www.highpeak.gov.uk/hp/your-council/meetings-agendas-and-minutes/development-control-committee-13 and on the HPBC planning portal.

Comment as editor of Glossop Gazette: HPBC should have a duty to make video recordings of these meetings and submit them to public scrutiny. The published minutes do not provide sufficient information on the content of the meetings to reflect the different opinions voiced, and the lack of accountability in the form of recorded votes is lamentable and unacceptable.

Comment as chairman of Glossop Bat Group: Whilst it's encouraging that some applications are now deemed to require better assessment of European Protected Species, many others are not. The real problem in Glossop is the loss of treelines that are vital as wildlife corridors, rather than threats to individual species of protected animals, but neither are properly considered by HPBC in their planning decisions. In the case of Shepley Street the developers had the whole of last year to conduct bat surveys, but chose to do all but one outside the optimum season and none at all during the breeding season. Developers look at the requirements for European Protected Species in successful applications and presume that they will get away with the same thing. In this case a major unilluminated treeline has been lost without anybody bothering to document how it is used. It's nothing compared to the devastation at the Carpenter site in Dinting, or what would have happened if the Charlestown Works proposal had been approved, but it's another example of how HPBC just can't be bothered applying nationally accepted standards of wildlife protection to their developments. Surveying this site properly for bats would have cost less than £1000 plus consultant's fees, and any mitigation required would have been unlikely to double that sum. Contrary to popular belief, bats need not be a hindrance to development. But if wildlife corridors are not identified and protected, local extinction of rare and light-intolerant species will occur.

Advertise on the Glossop Gazette and help local charities