Protecting Our Greenbelt and Local Community

For more information refer to section 9 of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework

Local community

  • The greenbelt strip on the north of Dronfield is already very narrow. Removing greenbelt status anywhere on this side of town puts Dronfield at high risk of merging with Sheffield in the future. Becoming part of a city will totally alter the character of Dronfield.
  • The Peak Resort development underway* will narrow the gap between Unstone and the south of Dronfield. Since Unstone has little separation from Chesterfield, removing any greenbelt status on the south side of Dronfield leaves high risk of all three settlements merging in the future. Dronfield will cease to be a rural town.
  • If these sections of greenbelt land are given up for houses, it could set a precedent for more greenbelt land to be taken in future, merging Dronfield with Sheffield and / or Chesterfield.
  • The character of Dronfield will change from a rural town surrounded by quality green space, used by many, to an over-congested, urban sprawl.

*Dronfield Eye, Issue 138, April 2017

The Purpose of Greenbelt Status

The government’s National Planning Policy Framework states that the fundamental aim of greenbelt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of green belts are their openness and their permanence.

  • Any removal of land from the Green Belt will set a precedent for developers and leaves the ‘permanence’ of remaining green belt under threat
  • Greenbelt land fulfils the following important functions, all of which very much apply to Dronfield:
  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one other
  • To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging recycling of derelict and other urban land

There are no “exceptional circumstances” to warrant the removal of greenbelt status anywhere around Dronfield

  • Greenbelt land should only be built upon in exceptional circumstances; NEDDC have not demonstrated that there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Unmet housing demand does not qualify as an exceptional circumstance, especially when brownfield sites and derelict houses in the district (and neighbouring districts) remain undeveloped.

The Strategic Green belt Functionality Study (p79-80) demonstrates that all proposed Dronfield development areas are in the top 50% of green belt sections that would suffer most when measured against green belt objectives; yet this is where a large amount of housing plots are proposed.

Only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter Green Belt boundaries after consultation of local people and the submission of a Local Plan setting out all the actions they must take before considering the green belt.

Unmet housing demand does not qualify as an exceptional circumstance. In taking the four largest parcels of greenbelt land in Dronfield, which happen to be vast swathes of land which are vitally important for their current functions as directed by the NPPF, this council is irresponsibly contravening national planning policy guidelines. Green Belt can and should be the constraint which allows an authority not to meet its need. It then has the responsibility to co-operate with neighbouring councils to explore options in the nearby locality.

The NPPF point 89 states “A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt.”

Building 860 houses in Dronfield on Green Belt is therefore contrary to planning policy. It is in response to pressure by developers who bought up land in the Green Belt some years ago and held it in their land banks waiting for removal of green belt status.

Two years ago Redmiles developers provided a plan for 449 houses on land below Shakespeare Crescent and across the road as far as Half Acre Lane. Their plans don’t show starter or affordable homes but an estate of low density large houses in big plots, in cul-de-sacs and crescents not dissimilar to the Gosforth Valley estate. Here is the link https://bolsover.jdi-consult.net/localplan/viewrepfull.php…

Section 9 of the NPPF states that the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.

If developers like Redmiles are allowed to develop this land, they will seek to drive the affordable housing quota down as low as possible and build more profitable houses at low densities with large  plots. This will proliferate urban sprawl, eventually merging Dronfield with Unstone. This is contrary to the NPPF.

If these proposals for Dronfield go ahead it will prompt developers to buy up more Green Belt land in the hope that the next iteration of the Plan will allow further removal of green belt status. Any removal of land from the Green Belt will set a precedent for developers and contravene the ‘permanence’ of Green Belts.

 

Key Topics

  1. Protecting our Greenbelt and Local Community
  2. Loss of Recreational Space / Reduced Access to Countryside and Footpaths
  3. Loss of Farmland
  4. Environment and Wildlife
  5. Health and Wellbeing
  6. Transport and Infrastructure
  7. Schools
  8. Doctors
  9. Heritage
  10. Previous Coal Mining Activity
  11. The Fracking Threat
  12. Council
  13. Concerns regarding employment and industrial development
  14. Brownfield sites and vacant properties
  15. Dronfield Railway station
  16. Not suitable for a large scale development
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