LETTER: Plan shows ‘disregard’ for countryside in Harpur Hill

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In the recent planning approval to build 275 houses in the rural area of Heathfield Nook Rd and Dolby Rd on the outskirts of Harpur Hill, High Peak Borough Council have shown a disregard for the protection of the countryside.
The present central government advice is “inappropriate development on the green belt should not be approved except in very special circumstances”.
In 2008, and the countryside has not changed in Harpur Hill since then, the Planning Inspectorate rejected an appeal for Derby University to build a sports hall in the same area of green fields because it would “harm the character of the countryside and be seen as an incongruous incursion into the open aspect of the rural landscape”. 
In addition, the Planning Inspectorate stated that building schemes “should not detract from narrow gaps between settlements or generate significant amounts of traffic”. In other words, do not build in this area.
In connection with this latest building plan, the Derbyshire County Council landscape officer reported to HPBC that: “I am firmly of the opinion that development of this scale within the context of the surrounding landscape characteristics and the visual exposure of the site, will ensure that the scheme will have a significant impact upon the amenity of people living and using the area. 
“It poorly relates to the existing settlement at Harpur Hill as it effectively pushes development over the local ridge at the Derby University site and into a new unit of landscape”. 
He also said, in his report, that even with the modifications suggested, that: “My overall reaction is that this development proposal will still have a significant impact on the transitional character of the landscape in this locality and will be visually intrusive from many locations adjacent to the site as well as further afield including the Peak Park.
“I remain unconvinced that this scheme, as proposed, will deliver the design quality and characterful development requisite for a site of this sensitivity.” In other words, do not build.
I think it is extraordinary that planning officials, from outside our High Peak area, think more of our local countryside than do our own High Peak Borough Council. 
It looks as though we might be better off with planning decisions regarding housing being made by Derbyshire County Council or central government rather than our local HPBC.
Another point is that the development was stated as being ‘unsustainable’ in January and yet altered to ‘sustainable’ in September, due, in part, to comparing the distance from the proposed building development to the two Harpur Hill shops (i.e. amenities available) as being similar to the distance from a proposed building development in Glossop from a multitude of shops in Glossop town centre (i.e. amenities available). Hardly a fair comparison!

Peter Danson

Harpur Hill