Council is under fire over Serpentine plan

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High Peak Borough Council’s (HPBC) plans to shatter the peace of Buxton’s oldest park have brought a furious reaction from conservationists and the public alike since the Advertiser revealed the proposal last week.

And the town’s leading civic group have accused the council of undermining the democratic process over the way they appear to be pushing through the speculative scheme for new housing in the Serpentine Walk.

An application submitted by the council itself just a few weeks ago is being sped through the planning process with a decision set to be made before the consultation with the public has closed.

The development of land at Serpentine Walk, including the renovation of the original house, would see three new four bedroomed homes built. The application, by HPBC, will go before the council’s Development Control Committee on June 11, nine days before the end of the deadline for comments.

A council spokesperson claimed: “It is standard practice to not wait for the publicity period to fully expire and this is accommodated in the officer recommendation. The decision won’t be issued until the publicity period expires.”

But Buxton’s Civic Association is furious that the decision is being determined before the statutory consultation has been completed.

The Association’s Planning Group, who comment on all plans that affect conservation areas in the town and landmark buildings, said: “It is critical it does not go ahead. The park belongs to the people of Buxton.

“It is within a conservation area of great historic importance as Serpentine Walks were the first part of the Pavilion Gardens to be laid out around 1840, so the development of this site for residential purposes is quite out of keeping with the purpose of the park for nearly 200 years.

“We would be concerned that a development of this kind would be detrimental and would compromise the tranquillity of the park which is actually a Grade 2* listed historic park including the pathways.

“The tranquillity of the area would be lost forever which is quite contrary to the new national planning policy framework.”

The Association say the four properties would be served by a pathway used by local residents and visitors alike, both young and old as it is particularly suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs because alternative routes are too steep.

The council says access is via a narrow tarmac surface that forms part of the park and a passing place would be needed.

And they claim the plan has no detrimental effect on the park – while the Association point out that an application to demolish a house on St John’s Road, that backs on to Serpentine and replace it with apartments has been repeatedly rejected as it would spoil the setting of the Walk. See letters - p16.