Land off Dukes Drive towards the viaduct, which is owned by the Duke of Devonshire’s estate, was earmarked for houses when the High Peak Local Plan was drawn up in 2016.
In 2019, Chatsworth Settlement Trustees submitted a screening opinion application to High Peak Borough Council to see whether a development of 338 homes on the site would comprise Environmental Impact Assessment development (EIA). The aim of EIA is to protect the environment by making sure councils take into account the effect on the environment of any applications.
More than 20 local residents objected to the proposals, and people then came together to create a campaign group opposing the plans.
Mark Warrin, who set up the Say NO to Dukes Drive, Buxton Housing Development group, said: “Thankfully since 2019 there hasn’t been much happening at the site but I do worry it is only a matter of time so I want to raise awareness.
“I want people to know what could happen to the site so if formal plans are submitted we are in a better position to campaign against the development.”
Despite no formal plans being submitted yet, Mark says he has seen the original idea for the site when the local plan was being created and says there are two main locations proposed for the houses.
One of these is the area adjacent to the allotments which would be entirely covered by housing right up the allotment boundary with only an exceedingly narrow corridor to accommodate the public footpath as it exits the allotment site itself.
Mark said he has many problems with having houses on the site.
The land off Dukes Drive site sits immediately adjacent to Ashwood Dale, which is designated in the local plan as a Local Wildlife Site. Such sites are seen as vital havens for wildlife and can act as buffers to help protect wildlife from surrounding land uses.
He said: “As a result, these special and often secret spaces have a huge part to play in the natural green fabric of Derbyshire’s towns and countryside.
“They make up a web of stepping stones and corridors for wildlife, forming key components of ecological networks and our living landscapes. These should receive protection through the planning system.”
He believes the houses will not only destroy the nearby eco-system but also put pressure on local amenities.
“If these plans are submitted you have to think about the increase of cars on the road.
“For 338 homes you can look to double that for the number of cars the new development will bring to the area.
“Dukes Drive is narrow and used mainly as a shortcut through to Morrisons. It is also a dangerous road where you can’t see round the bends. Add in another 700 cars and it’s an accident waiting to happen.
“Also let’s say there will be on average four people in each house. Where will these people go to school, or the dentist? After a decade of cuts our local infrastructure is already overwhelmed so how will the town be able to support more people?”
In July 2019 test holes were dug across the entire site in the area bordered by Dukes Drive itself, the viaduct and Cote Heath allotments
Mark said this was worrying as it was a step in the wrong direction for the campaigners.
“I know people need houses but it’s not going to be people from Buxton buying these houses. The average first time buyer from Buxton will be priced out of the market as the developer makes more bigger homes at a higher price.
“The wonderful views enjoyed by the residents who already live here will be lost and I worry Buxton will just become another commuter town.
“Buxton’s main industry is tourism so we need to be asking ourselves if these large developments will detract from making Buxton a special place to visit.”
Mark, who moved to Buxton in 2011, says he feels the time when developers may start actively looking at the site is approaching.
“We had two years where things couldn’t go ahead with lockdowns and things were halted.
“Now we are coming out of the pandemic developers are looking to hit the ground running and a site like the land off Dukes Drive where the feelers have preliminarily been put out would be a good place to start.
“We know people don’t want this development so we need to be prepared to come together and make our voices heard if it goes to the next stage and plans are submitted.”
To find out more about the campaign, see https://www.facebook.com/dukesdrivehousing.