Commons debate on Harpur housing fears

Concerns about planning applications in Harpur Hill were brought to the attention of government ministers in a House of Commons debate last week.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham spoke during a discussion on Localism in Planning when he highlighted the particular problems facing Harpur Hill, where residents fear up to 1,000 houses could be built.

He said: “Harpur Hill has approximately 900 to 1,000 houses and applications are swirling around to more or less double the size of that small area.

“The residents’ association is really concerned.”

Mr Bingham also added that residents were alarmed after seeing planning applications being refused by local councillors, only to be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

“I want to be clear: neither I nor my residents in High Peak are nimbys. We are aware that there is some need for housing, and nobody would dispute that, but seeing such decisions being made by local councils and then overturned by the Planning Inspectorate is not what the process should be about,” he said.

Ken Greenway, chair of Harpur Hill Residents’ Association, said: “The debate has brought to light the concerns locals had all along, namely that at the end of the day the final say will be from central government, ie the Planning Inspectorate. We feel no matter what we try to do or what we try to say, we will still be trumped by a government inspector.

“Despite three major consultations with our group and despite two reports both reflecting the view that Harpur Hill admits it needs housing but doesn’t want to be swamped it is being, in our view, ignored.

“Andrew Bingham spoke out very bravely for us and made the issues very clear. We want to work with him over the next few months to try and get this resolved for residents, not just in Harpur Hill but all of the community because the planning issues are threatening quality of life.

“It isn’t nimbyism we’re advocating, it is common sense. It’s about trying to ensure that people in Harpur Hill have the right to contribute to planning decisions.”

The issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the residents’ association on Tuesday, July 30 at the Hoffman Bar at 7.30pm. There will also be chance to hear a progress update on a questionnaire asking locals for what they want to see in Harpur Hill and a discussion about £20,000 of section 106 money which is available to Harpur Hill.

Everyone living in Harpur Hill is welcome.