Planners at Labour-led Bolsover District Council are considering Waystone Ltd’s planning application for the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme which also features 24 hectares for mixed-development and employment as well as for community and commercial facilities, on greenfield land between Clowne and Barlborough.
Conservative MP Mr Fletcher said: “Despite the clear opposition and evident negative impact on the local community, I find it staggering that the council will proceed with the development.”
Campaigners and residents from Clowne and nearby Barlborough have raised concerns about the development’s impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, and drainage and flooding risk fears.
And Mr Fletcher has now written a six-page letter to Bolsover District Council’s planning committee outlining his concerns not least that he believes the development will increase the population of Clowne by nearly 50 per cent.
He also claims that even if the scheme got the go-ahead it does not include enough affordable housing with only six per cent of the development’s properties falling into this category.
Mr Fletcher has argued the scheme will also have an impact on the road network, and he shares campaigners’ fears for the environment, especially with flooding and the use of greenbelt land which has been freed-up for exempted-use.
He also feels the developers’ proposed financial contributions towards services to help mitigate an increased population are limited with only £684,000 earmarked for health matters, along with a large funding gap for schools.
During the last three-and-a-half years, Mr Fletcher claims to have raised concerns regarding the impact of this development on the community with senior officers at the council, with Derbyshire County Council’s highways team, and with the Clowne Garden Village developers regarding the impact increased housing would have on the road infrastructure.
He says he has also been in contact with hundreds of residents across Clowne and Barlborough by email, and through a housing survey, at surgeries, or after visiting homes, and he claims there has been overwhelming opposition to the scheme.
Mr Fletcher added: “On health it fails. On roads it fails. On education it fails. On affordable housing it fails. To continue with this development and to ride roughshod over the legitimate views and concerns of local residents would be a complete dereliction of duty to the local community.
“We all agree on the need for more housing, but this must be accompanied by investment into our services and infrastructure, so that the local community does not suffer. This development does not pass those tests. Ultimately, Clowne Garden Village is unsustainable and not fit for purpose.”
Council Planning Manager Sarah Kay has stated there will be consultations with experts and assessments to look at any concerns for Waystone to address.
Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigner Dom Webb, who is opposed to the proposed housing scheme, said he would like to see Mr Fletcher and Derbyshire County Councillor Natalie Hoy, who represents Barlborough and Clowne, join forces to oppose the scheme.
He said: “It’s important all local residents have their say and Mark’s letter raises legitimate planning issues that planning officers will have to answer.
“It is now crucial that Mark and Natalie Hoy join forces with the Labour-led parish-councils of Clowne and Barlborough to help defeat this antiquated planning application.
“Having the local MP onboard is a most welcome addition and caps the full political spectrum that is so clearly set against this planning application. With every day that goes by, the reasons for planning officers to recommend this application dwindle further down to zero.”
Despite the opposition to the housing plans, the developers have claimed there is support for the scheme in terms of the potential for economic growth, facilities and jobs.