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									                                               Harworth Estates

                                          Their latest ‘cunning plan’.



Introduction.

Late in November 2011 Pat Bone (Secretary of R.A.G.E.) and I received information that Harworth Estates
were in the process of preparing a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ for Killamarsh either on behalf of, or in conjunction
with, the Parish Council. Such a Plan is intended to decide where development should take place within a
community.

Such a Plan is not intended to preserve the status quo, or to limit development, it is meant to be a positive
‘green light’ for building.

It is not known whether there has been any involvement by the Parish Council in the work being undertaken
by Harworth Estates. There is no current evidence to show that they are.

It was, perhaps, more than coincidental that one of our supporters received a letter and survey from Harworth
Estates, apparently seeking views on where building development should take place in Killamarsh, only two
days after we received this information. This was accompanied by access to an online form prepared by the
DLP Consulting Group. The survey forms are duplicates of each other, strongly biased towards what
Harworth want to hear, and the letter is a travesty of the truth.

To understand the relevance of these opinions, and of the nature of a Neighbourhood Plan, one must
appreciate the emerging context of developmental planning.


Planning Context.

On a national basis planning for any development, large or small, will be governed by the provisions of the
newly agreed Localism Act, 2011 and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This latter document
will reduce the current 1,300 pages of planning law to about 52. There has been great controversy over the
proposals within the NPPF and its alleged lack of clarity, mainly due to its brevity. It has been described as a
“builders’ charter”.

Whilst this gives the national framework for planning, each planning authority (in our case the North East
Derbyshire District Council) must develop its own Local Plan, which will provide a blueprint for the scale and
location of development within its own area for the next 15 years.

The Government has, at the core of the Localism Bill, the alleged intention to give decision on local issues to
local people. It has, therefore, provided for Neighbourhood Plans, which can dictate the level and location of
development within its own community. The Parish Council will be an important ‘player’ in this facet of the
planning system.


Relevant Issues.
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In terms of the national picture the Localism Bill received Royal Assent on the 15 November, 2011. The
NPPF is still under active discussion, chiefly because of the huge amount of interest and opposition that the
original draft has engendered.

The Local Planning Framework, which is the responsibility of the District Council, is proceeding well but has
overrun its completion date because of extensive information gathering, and a legal challenge concerning the
government’s decision to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies. Until the East Midlands Regional Spatial
Strategy (EMRSS) is revoked North East Derbyshire District Council (NEDDC) has a target to build 380
houses per year. The previous plan had required only 215 dwellings per year to be built. The ‘new’ target is
difficult to sustain given the Green Belt constraints that apply to the three northern towns of Dronfield,
Eckington and Killamarsh, and was applied without any evidential justification.

The abolition of the EMRSS is not a problem, more an opportunity to get things right. The NEDDC have
initiated various areas of research to ensure that any proposals and recommendations are proposed on a
solid base of evidence.
After consideration of four alternatives during a consultation excercise held in 2009, the NEDDC were given
two options for their consideration by a team of council officials:

    1. To focus development on the four main towns (Clay Cross, Dronfield, Killamarsh and Eckington),
       with lower levels of development around the surrounding villages to meet regeneration needs. This
       option would require a strategic review of the Green Belt to allow for the expansion of the northern
       towns,
    2. To focus development on Clay Cross and the surrounding network of villages. This option would
       restrict development in the northern towns to urban capacity and infilling.

The latter option was recommended to the NEDDC cabinet, and it is against this background that the
emerging Local Plan is being prepared.

So, what sort of evidence will the NEDDC consider when making their decision on where, and how much,
development will take place?

The first research issue relates to the urban settlement capacity, i.e. what development can be
accommodated within the various settlement development limits. This will take into account;

       The housing required for natural population growth,
       The housing needed for those wishing to in-migrate,
       Housing to take account of employment growth.

This study is being undertaken by independent consultants employed by the district council.

Another aspect is the continuation of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).
Currently, Green Belt land put forward as available for development has been excluded from consideration,
because current Green Belt policy says that it must be demonstrated that development needs cannot be met
elsewhere before Green Belt land is considered for release.

The NEDDC considers that house builders have not been adequately engaged in the process. It has
therefore been decided that a SHLAA panel should be established, having good representation from house
builders and agents to work on issues such as densities, lead-in times, build out rates etc. It is also
suggested that focussed ground surveys should be carried out on the most likely development sites within
communities, using desk-based assessments and/or aerial photography.

A retail capacity and employment land review will identify sites to enhance the opportunities for employment
within the district and to identify sites that would be more marketable to both investors and potential
employers.

Transport studies will be undertaken to identify points where congestion may be anticipated on main routes,
whilst advising of measures to mitigate such congestion.

A green infrastructure study will assess how green infrastructure, presumably the biodiversity available within
local fields and hedgerows, may be integrated with the development strategy.

There is extensive work being carried out to identify an infrastructure delivery programme. This would
include such matters as:

       What is the nature of existing provision,
       What areas do sewage treatment plants serve, and are there any trunk sewers,
       What is the provision of education, both primary and secondary,
       Can healthcare providers deal with an influx of new patients,
       Are there any existing capacity problems or ‘bottlenecks’,
       What is included in the current capital investment programme (likely to have a horizon of only 3 – 5
        years)

The difficulty comes when acknowledging that some infrastructure services are provided by external sources,
i.e. drains and water by Severn Trent Water, in our case, the roads are the responsibility of the Derbyshire
County Council, etc., etc.
It is acknowledged that there are difficulties in obtaining sufficient information from infrastructure providers
whose views on their own developmental needs will differ from those of building development plans.

An additional issue is that the needs of the northern part of North East Derbyshire will be considered against
our links to the Chesterfield district and Sheffield and Rotherham – areas which provided much of the current
employment opportunity.

The above matters are merely a flavour of the issues that are exercising the minds of strategic planners and
policy makers within the district council. The whole complex area of planning and development is in a state
of flux. The whole approach will not be determined in terms of a Local Development Framework – the
development plan for NEDDC – until all the work has been carried out and the draft plan has been put out for
public consultation.

Against this background, with all the activity previously described, it is right to ask why Harworth
Developments have decided to consult locally, using a badly flawed questionnaire.

The reason, we believe, is that they are trying to develop, or at the very least influence, a Neighbourhood
Plan. The Government is, on the face of it, trying to give more rights to citizens to decide what is built in their
community, including houses, shops and community facilities. These rights are enshrined in the Localism Bill
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which, as already stated, received Royal Assent on the 15 November, 2011.

Unfortunately, in our case, the Neighbourhood Plan does not allow communities to plan not to build. They
allow development in a place agreed by a fairly small group of people, with the recommended plan being
subject to a community referendum. To be accepted more than 50% of those who vote must agree with the
plan, which will then receive planning consent. This is where apathy, and a lack of information, comes to the
aid of organisations like Harworth Developments.

Let us consider some of the issues contained in the letter and questionnaire.


Harworth Estates Questionnaire – The Real Truth.

We now find that HE has circulated a letter and questionnaire supposedly aimed at finding out what the
people of Killamarsh want. This is an excellent aim, but the letter and questionnaire grossly distort or hide
relevant facts. In our view HE have only given you what they want you to read so that you will answer the
way they want you to.

The opening paragraphs of the letter suggest that the government should allow communities to say where
they want development to take place. They do not mention that the other option is that development does
not take place! RAGE members are not about preventing all development – that would be silly and counter
productive. However, we believe that the Green Belt land, which protects us from ‘urban sprawl’, that is to
say the apparently unstoppable spread of the Sheffield suburbs, provides a vital buffer to such over-
development. Think of how much building has gone on in Killamarsh over the last 30 years. It has moved
from being a village to a small town. RAGE believes that enough major development has taken place.

The only mention made of the Green Belt by HE gives the impression that it is, apparently, a nuisance that
constrains development.

The first issue raised by HE is that Killamarsh, ‘as one of the major settlements in North East Derbyshire…
should accommodate a substantial proportion of the housing demand in the district’. Why???? We have
only become one of the larger settlements because of lots of previous building here. Our services have not
kept pace with all the previous development. As one former senior NEDDC planner said to our Vice Chair,
Chris Curzon, “In my opinion Killamarsh has had more than its fair share of new building”. Do not be fooled
by the alleged funds to support better services. More of this later.

The next point is designed to make you feel selfish if you say ‘no’ to the question ‘should Killamarsh meet its
share of housing demand?’ Killamarsh has already met more than its fair share of building requirements.
Killamarsh and its residents should not be made to feel guilty by objecting to further, unnecessary,
development.

Our near neighbours, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Bolsover all have significant housing development plans.
None of them intend to touch their Green Belt land. The current NEDDC intention is that Green Belt land will
not be used for general housing need.
Apart from this, previous public consultation has shown that the responders to NEDDC questionnaires said
that building would be preferred along the A61/A6175 corridors. The locations are in the Clay Cross area.
NEDDC investigation results also propose that major building should be in the Clay Cross area, where they
will develop significant facilities. Tick the ‘Clay Cross’ box, without feeling in the least bit guilty, if you wish to
do so.

The next issue involves the improvement of off-site infrastructure, such as roads. In a congested area like
Killamarsh this sounds attractive, but ignores the practicalities. The County Council decide on, and pay for,
most road development in our county, excluding motorways and major trunk routes.

HE tells us that if the site is large enough it is possible for the developer to deliver on and off site facilities,
and for the local community to have some say in this.

Everyone would like to see less congestion in the roads of Killamarsh, but consider the situation as it is.
Most traffic feeds on to Sheffield Road. Would the developer and the County Council spend millions to build
a larger road bridge at the main ‘choke point’ on Sheffield Road? How would the traffic get to Sheffield Road
from Upperthorpe Road or Green Lane? Would you vote for houses on one side of Upperthorpe Road/Green
Lane/High Street/Sheffield Road/Rotherham Road to be demolished so that major road improvements could
take place? Would you want double yellow lines all over every road (another alternative) so that no-one
could park near their home or drop their children off at school? Would you want the years of disruption this
would involve?

So, why do HE want to build on Green Belt land in Killamarsh? In the opinion of the RAGE committee HE
has little interest in the future of Killamarsh or any improvement in its infrastructure. They have, we believe,
one reason – no, make that 20,000,000 reasons, for their desire to develop the land between Green Lane and
Upperthorpe Road. That is the value of the land owned by HE, estimated by a building contractor, if the 25
acres that they own becomes building land instead of agricultural land - £20,000,000.

The letter talks about the New Homes Bonus, and the £2 million that the council could spend in the
settlement. This figure is correct, but is spread over six years, and will not be used in Killamarsh.

The New Homes Bonus is intended by Government to ‘reward’ councils for allowing development in their
area. This money is not ‘ring fenced’. This means that the council can spend it on whatever they like,
including balancing any shortfall in their books. Not one penny has to be spent in the town or village where
the actual development has taken place!!!! The NEDDC is already on record as saying that the New Homes
Bonus they receive this year will be used ‘to fund efficiency savings’.

Another area for potential income is the new Community Infrastructure Levy. This is an agreed payment by
developers to (in our case) NEDDC to fund infrastructure improvements. It does not have to go to the area
where development is being undertaken, but must be used to improve infrastructure within the whole district.
It is fair to say that the government expects a proportion of the CIL to be used in the area where the
development has taken place, but this is not legally demanded.

The only way we can prevent further deterioration in our road access is to ensure that no more major
development takes place in Killamarsh.

The questionnaire talks about houses being available for people moving into the village. The majority will
come from Sheffield as we are seen as a cheaper area to live. Sheffield’s own housing survey shows that
they do not intend to build on any of their Green Belt land. Why should we, just to accommodate their
‘overflow’?

The survey form talks about more employment land being made available. We currently have excellent
facilities available at the Westthorpe Fields Business Park. At the last NEDDC survey, the facility there was
only about 47% full – leaving plenty of room for new businesses to move in. No new businesses had moved
in during the first half of the year.

Many of the questions refer to a ‘wish list’ of infrastructure improvements, implying that HE can influence or
provide these facilities. Take public transport as an example. This is provided by independent, private
companies who will decide on services on a purely commercial basis. Educational services are provided by
the County Council, and whose budget is due to be cut in the future. Health services are provided by the
local health authority. Care Homes are run, for the most part, by private companies. The list refers to formal
sports pitches. We have the Rother Valley Country Park facility and the excellent services and facilities of
the Village Centre. Both have spare capacity. Do we need more? To think that you may have a choice in
these matters is superficially attractive until you actually think about what they are saying.
It would be inappropriate to go through the whole questionnaire – it would take too much time and no-one
would bother to read it. I would just add that, in the opinion of the RAGE committee, it is a loaded, distorted
and inaccurate document which does not provide any basis for an objective survey of need. It is not based
on any identified evidence of need.

Killamarsh deserves improvement to its infrastructure purely because it, and other towns/villages, have borne
the brunt of previous development – not because of a ‘bribe’ to further increase overcrowding and ‘steal’ our
vital Green Belt protection.

Oh, by the way, have you noticed that there is no space for a name and address on the survey form? There
is nothing to stop anyone sending in multiple replies or even those interested in development, for whatever
reason, getting people living outside the village to fill in these forms. Why is that, do you think???? Why do
you think it was sent over the Christmas period, and when there was no RAGE scheduled public meeting?
Draw your own conclusions.

The questionnaire also refers to ‘the latest Government forecast suggests that Killamarsh will require 950
dwellings in the next 15 years. Where is the evidence for this? It is based on an outdated requirement within
the Regional Spatial Strategy which did not take account of the Green Belt areas around Killamarsh and
other towns to the north of the NEDDC area. The housing requirement will be decided by the NEDDC, who
fully acknowledge that the previous government-required figure was far too high. To decide on an accurate,
evidence-based requirement the NEDDC is conducting rational, scientific research designed to show the
optimum location and quantity of further necessary development within the district.

One important area of research is to consider what infrastructure changes are needed, and where they
should be. They are also looking closely at what the actual demand for houses in Killamarsh is and how
much capacity for further development our village has, without touching the Green Belt. Remember, the
Green Belt provides a vital resource and significant protection. Once it is gone it will never return. Then you
will become part of Sheffield, whether you want to or not.

Think of the disruption that at least five years of significant house-building in the Upperthorpe Road/Green
Lane area would bring. Do you want that? We believe that this would be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and, as
soon as permission was given for the development of this site, other development would follow in local Green
Belt ‘prime’ sites. Developers are waiting in the wings to do just that.

If you feel that the ‘survey’ deserves a reply, then RAGE would suggest that you say ‘Yes’ to ‘There should
be as little change as possible in Killamarsh’. Assess what I have written, check the facts by contacting
NEDDC if you wish, and then complete the rest of the questionnaire accordingly. Send us a message at
RAGE if you want any more information.


                                         www.killamarsh-rage.co.uk

                         Our email address is enquiries@killamarsh-rage.co.uk, and

                                  our telephone number is 0843-289-7091.


Paul Johnson,
Chair of RAGE.

								
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