R.A.G.E. (A non-political pressure group)
The Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion group came into being when one of the founder members discovered plans to build a large residential housing estate, of some 350 houses, on land between Upperthorpe Road and Green Lane in Killamarsh.
These plans had been discussed, apparently in secret, by the would-be developer, Harworth Estates (part of UK Coal), and the Parish Council.
The land concerned was part of the former site of the Westthorpe Colliery – now part of the Greenbelt buffer between Killamarsh and Spinkhill.
The concerns of R.A.G.E. include the erosion of the Greenbelt, the lack of village infrastructure to deal with an additional 1,200 people (potentially, perhaps more), and the inability of local roads to cope with at least 700 more vehicles.
Four public meetings have been held in the village hall and it has become apparent that a substantial number of village residents share our extreme concern about this particular proposal, which is viewed as the ‘thin end of the wedge’ in terms of building on green space.
It was subsequently learned that in 2010 the North East Derbyshire District Council produced plans, called the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (S.H.L.A.A.) that might allow more than 1,660 dwellings to be built in and around the village over the next 12 years. More than 1,000 of them would be built on Greenbelt land, if the plans came fully to fruition.
R.A.G.E. members feel that there has been far too much building in the village within the recent past and that the plans, which would facilitate large scale population movement from Sheffield, are a ‘bridge too far’. They would result in more than a 50% increase in village population if all proposals were accepted.
At the present time the North East Derbyshire District Council are preparing a local plan for this area. This wide-ranging plan decides on development priorities, and designates areas for development within North East Derbyshire. Part of the planning process will decide whether the Greenbelt will stay in its present form, or whether the protection that this designation provides will be removed. If the Greenbelt status is preserved by the plan the building proposals for Westthorpe, and others within our surrounding area, will almost certainly fail, being classed as ‘inappropriate development’ within existing definitions.
In accordance with the current (soon to be defunct) plan, the bulk of development will take place within the four main towns in the area; Clay Cross, Dronfield, Eckington and Killamarsh.
During the last consultation process undertaken by the council, when a total of 228 individuals and interested parties replied, the balance of opinion suggested that the bulk of development should take place along the A61 and A6175 ‘corridors’, between Chesterfield and Sheffield. That would suit us all just fine, but only if the plan acknowledges this result.
Our M.P., Natascha Engel, supports our cause as do many, but not all, Parish Councillors.
A leadership group has been formed, fundraising is taking place, and volunteers are needed. If we do not fight to save the current nature and status of the village we will become one more sprawling settlement on the outskirts of South Yorkshire.
View the information on offer on our website ~ www.killamarsh-rage.co.uk ~ make up your own mind and then join us!
Paul Johnson, Q.P.M.,
Chair of Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion.