Planning: bats holding up flats

The redevelopment of a site in Buxton is a step closer – despite councillors refusing the planning application.

Numerous applications have been made to demolish the existing house at 33 St Johns’ Road and replace it with a larger building – but were all turned down by the committee, decisions backed by the planning inspectorate on appeal.

But a majority of members on High Peak’s Development Control Committee would have approved the latest application for six apartments – but for the lack of an up-to-date bat survey.

Agent Ian Gidley told the meeting that they had spent nearly five years trying to negotiate a suitable scheme. He said they felt they had addressed concerns raised by the planning inspector’s report.

However that view was not shared by officers who had recommended the application be refused as its scale and appearance would be harmful to the character of the Conservation Area and the setting of the adjacent Grade II listed park.

The meeting was told officers felt the applicant’s interpretation of the inspectors report was selective as concern had been expressed about the depth of the building and height of the roof.

Councillor Tim Norton said it was a finely balanced application but that he would move approval. He said: “Something needs to be done: the house is getting worse and worse.

“The concept of having the site developed has been agreed by the inspector.”

Cllr John Faulkner, seconding approval, said: “Since the first application the number of flats has gone down from 12 to six so surely that is quite a substantial reduction.”

But councillors were then advised that they could not approve an application without the necessary information about a protected species.

The application was refused due to the lack of a bat survey.