RESPONSE TO NORTH EAST DERBYSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL
DRAFT LOCAL PLAN 2011-2033.
I understand the need for significant numbers of homes to be built in North East Derbyshire (NED), based on government targets and the objective ‘guesswork’ of the Housing Market Needs Assessment, I have serious reservations about the viability of the aspects relating to Killamarsh. I will describe these reservations within discrete areas, although some of them merge into each other.
Green Belt Review.
I accept that the Green Belt review was undertaken in an objective manner, using the criteria for the establishment and retention of Green Belts in England. However, the selection criteria utilised in the areas reviewed, resulting in specific areas being chosen, leaves me less happy.
No apparent cognizance was taken of the value placed on these areas by the local community, or of the use being made of them by the local population. The presence of numerous footpaths in an area was apparently ignored, as were the geographical and topographical locations.
Killamarsh is in a unique position within the NE Derbyshire district (NEDDC). Its location in the very north east portion of the district leads to many other pressures. Killamarsh is on the border of the Sheffield, Rotherham, Bolsover and Chesterfield districts, thus being susceptible to changes and development within those localities. This has left Killamarsh more vulnerable than other areas to excessive development.
For example, during the course of the Plan, Sheffield plans to build 745 homes very close to its border with Killamarsh. Approximately 1,200 will be built in the Clowne area, 500+ in Bolsover, 270 in Renishaw, 563 in Eckington, 277 in Cresswell, 200 in Whitwell and 150 in Barlborough. All of the above development will have a significant impact on the roads of Killamarsh, without considering the 618 dwellings planned to be built in Killamarsh itself. Other significant pressures upon the road network will be discussed later.
The only people supportive of such development either have a vested financial interest in building homes, or are young people who are understandably looking for a home for themselves.
Your first draft plan provided homes towards the south of the District. This would have provided sufficient for planned need. However, developers did not want to build there as there was, in their opinion, no requirement. They wanted to build on the edge of Sheffield/Rotherham on easy-to-access Green Belt land. So, it is not that available land is not there – merely that no-one wants to build on it. It would have been much easier to plan additional infrastructure needs from a ‘clean sheet’ rather than attempting to remediate an already ‘broken’ road network.
The assertion that ‘because about 50% of the population live in the north of the district, then 50% of any new development should be placed there’ defies logic and common sense. The appropriateness and suitability for development, in terms of sustainability and potential hazards, of the areas chosen should have been a major consideration
This leads me to the question of infrastructure.
The village of Killamarsh expanded significantly with the opening of numerous mines and open cast sites during the 19th and 20th Century. The infrastructure of the village has changed little since the large scale development of the mid 1900’s. There are three main access and ingress routes to Killamarsh; Sheffield Road/Mansfield Road, Rotherham Road and Spinkhill Road. All are totally inadequate for current usage, with gridlock during ‘rush’ periods.
Sheffield Road is narrowed by on-street parking on the approach to the main shopping area from either direction. There are two road bridges on the immediate approach to the village, bordered by a footpath, which causes traffic to slow or stop in the event of their meeting a larger vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.
Rotherham Road has been narrowed by the addition of traffic calming measures, with on-street parking narrowing the available roadway even more. Currently the Rother Valley Country Park creates significant delays in spring and summer months through queuing traffic waiting to gain entrance. This will only be exacerbated by the Gulliver’s Valley development further along the same road.
Spinkhill Road is already a ‘rat-run’ from J30 of the M1 motorway. It is a 50mph speed limit, totally inappropriately, used by horses and riders and many cyclists. There is no footpath for the pedestrians that use this area. The carriageway narrows significantly in a dip in the road, overhung by trees where large lorries, diverted along this road by satellite navigation systems, cannot pass. Those same lorries arrive at a T junction, on a hill, with only a very limited and interrupted view of traffic approaching from either Hut Lane or Upperthorpe Road. This is particularly important in spring and summer when foliage, hedges and roadside weeds are at their optimum. In the infrequent event of snow and ice this junction is chaotic. Drivers arriving at the junction from Hut Lane intending to turn left, frequently, almost invariably, drift to the opposite side of the road due to their excessive speed. Traffic on Upperthorpe Road/Hut Lane invariably travels at an excessive speed. There are few accidents reported because the ones that occur on Spinkhill Road involve single vehicles crashing where the driver has lost control.
Because of the historical factors described any minor road or utility work on any of these three access/egress routes creates chaos.
Parking within the village centre is described in the draft Plan as ‘good, with much of it free’. That depends upon your own viewpoint and the reality of the situation. The three main parking areas are privately owned or controlled, as signs around them indicate. This leaves parking at the whim of the individuals or organisations concerned.
The main parking area is within the Community Campus area. A sign within the parking area states ‘Patrons Only’. Mr. White owns the parking area, leading from Bridge Street, behind the main shopping area off Sheffield Road, with the entrance clearly being marked as ‘Private’. The Aldi supermarket controls the parking area outside its premises, recently being successful in an application to reduce the permitted parking time there. This leaves about 20 parking spaces within the village that are truly open to any resident, albeit for a limited time.
Killamarsh is described as a secondary town within the draft Plan. Its strategic and social infrastructure is apparently felt to be sufficient to cope with significant additional development. This may appear to be appropriate when based on a desk-top study, or a whistle-stop tour of the village, but the reality for those living in Killamarsh is different.
Killamarsh has 10% of its shops as food takeaways – twice the national average. It has a plethora of beauty shops (nail, hair and other such shops), again more than 10% of available outlets.
There are two pharmacies within metres of each other and two e-cigarette outlets, again proximate to each other. Whilst there are two supermarkets the Co-operative is in significant danger from the presence of the Aldi supermarket. The Post office is in constant danger of closure. The doctors’ surgery has come under significantly increased pressure and it is now difficult to get an appointment within a week. The dental practice has not taken new clients for some time. Other, more esoteric, outlets cater for specific and specialist needs. The vast majority of retail outlets are clustered in the Bridge Street/Sheffield Road area, which has significant parking pressures, as described. Outlying areas of Killamarsh are served by single, small general stores. There is no bank and the two cash machines are within 10 metres of each other.
Nevertheless, shoppers living on the outskirts need to travel into the village centre to shop. Public transport services have recently been curtailed. The topographic problems (hills etc.) mean that those who cannot walk into the village – and Killamarsh has an ageing population – have to drive in. As previously described, parking is a serious problem within the village. There is an obvious disregard for parking restrictions, with a propensity to park illegally and dangerously near to the takeaway outlets, the post office and the supermarkets. The lack of any significant or cohesive enforcement action only encourages such transgressions.
At least we have two funeral directors’ who can deal with any tragic consequences.
To these already significant issues the Plan wishes to add a further 618 dwellings, bringing with them approximately 1,200 cars and 2,400 people – adding almost 25% to Killamarsh’s already overpopulated streets.
Your own figures show that about 43% of those in employment within the northern area of NED out-commute to Sheffield, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Bolsover. There is no reason to think that the building and occupation of 618 additional dwellings will reduce that figure. More likely it will increase the percentage from Killamarsh.
This militates against the sustainability of the settlement – an issue to which I will refer later.
I have examined the Derbyshire Infrastructure Plan (DIP) for any sign of hope that the current road congestion might be eased. Their plan holds no hope.
The only major works planned relate to the A61/A617 corridor, which also has a crucial need for improvement. There is nothing to relieve the pressures on the road networks of Eckington and Killamarsh.
The section of the Plan dealing with ‘Infrastructure and Delivery’ refers to numerous potential sources of funding to aid infrastructure delivery plans, one of which includes Section 106 agreements for developer contributions. These do not fill me with much hope. The former means entering a lottery for funding with many others having a similar need, and the latter relates, in reality, to site-specific problems created by the specific development. The problems of Killamarsh are historic, strategic and immense.
I understand that the October version of the Plan will provide a comprehensive infrastructure plan. If this is not shown to be clearly funded, without needing to dip into a variety of funding pots in a hopeful or aspirational way, it will be without value.
The amount of capital expenditure needed to fund a comprehensive programme of changes to the inadequate road network around Killamarsh would be mind-blowingly expensive as well as chaotic in terms of implementation. On-street parking outside the village centre is a necessity due to older-style housing with no internal or off-road parking facilities.
Basically, the road network is currently massively overstretched and cannot accommodate ANY more development, a view supported by the Parish Council of Killamarsh during a recent objection they made to a planning application.
Consideration of infrastructure improvements cannot be based on ‘might be’ and ‘potential’. We all know of developments where S106 agreements have been formed before the developer concerned has reneged (via liquidation/insolvency/bankruptcy etc.), leaving the locality with unwanted development without the mitigation of infrastructure improvement. The current mantra of ‘viability’ will no doubt be quoted long and often in order to reduce or obviate any S.106 liabilities. This is not scaremongering, more a realistic assessment based on reality and experience.
When one filters the soon-to-be-built Gulliver’s Valley, which is an extension to the current Rother Valley Park, and the disruption emanating from the HS2 project, which will cut across the eastern edge of Killamarsh, paralleling the M1 motorway, the additional traffic will become horrendous. Two landowners in this same quadrant of Killamarsh have been approached to allow drilling for shale gas to take place on their land. This would be the final straw for current residents, providing an impending perfect storm of chaotic proportions.
I appreciate that all areas of North East Derbyshire are vulnerable to predatory developers in the absence of a Local Plan. However, that should not mean that the residents of Killamarsh should be abandoned to a minimum of ten years of utter chaos from housing development, followed by further decades of disruption caused by national and regional infrastructure projects, without obvious benefit for local Killamarsh residents.
Selected Sites in Killamarsh.
The most significant site in Killamarsh is located at Westthorpe Fields, off Green Lane in Killamarsh. The Plan refers to this area being ‘high risk’ due to previous mining work. Houses in this immediate locality have been subject to subsidence damage and a farmer working in the field fell into a sinkhole on the site whilst driving his tractor over it. This area is directly proximate to one of the largest collieries of the many located in this immediate area.
Green Lane, which previous plans have shown to be a main access/egress route, is a narrow road with significant on-street parking, hindering traffic movement and making the carriageway a virtual one-way route. One of the main employment sites of Killamarsh is located along this road, meaning that large goods vehicles constantly use the road system. Green Lane winds through a housing estate, again on narrow roads, before exiting onto Upperthorpe Road at a dangerous junction. Views in either direction are extremely limited.
Upperthorpe Road has been show on previous plans to be an additional access/egress route from this proposed site. Again, this is a poor road for use by heavy traffic because of on-street parking, blind bends, concealed junctions and adverse cambers. It is also subject to flooding in times of heavy rainfall.
As one travels towards the shopping centre of Killamarsh the carriageway on High Street is again effectively one way due to on-street parking – an issue that continues all the way to the village centre.
Green Lane and Upperthorpe Road will be adversely affected by the sites off Manor Road and Boiley Lane, both of which will feed into the same road system, as will the site at Ashley Lane, although this latter site already has planning permission for a number of homes.
All the sites mentioned (except Boiley Lane) are partially located within High Risk former mining areas. Disturbing the settled ground within these sites will likely lead to the emission of methane gas and CO2, further degrading air quality in Killamarsh.
The sites at Rotherham Road, Primrose Road and Barber’s Lane will all feed onto Sheffield Road to worsen an already hopeless traffic congestion situation, with each site having ancillary negative issues.
Your last draft Plan in 2015 showed that the air quality in certain areas of NE Derbyshire was poor in two localities, due to emissions from vehicles travelling along the M1 motorway. The eastern side of Killamarsh was one of those areas, although I accept it was not sufficient to make it an Air Quality Management issue. However, since your last survey many adverse changes have occurred.
The M1 motorway, at the location at issue, now has four lanes rather than the previous three.
The HS 2 project, on the latest plan version, will pass less than a mile from the eastern side of Killamarsh.
Four of the sites within the Plan are on the central/eastern side of Killamarsh, bringing massive extra traffic movement, and therefore additional emissions of CO2 and particulate matter.
Increased traffic to and from Gulliver’s Valley, when completed, will be immense.
There must be some gas escapes if development work commences on the High Risk sites allocated for such development.
The single biggest concern relates to a building not actually in NE Derbyshire. I refer to the Biomass Energy Plant located at Holbrook, right on the border with Killamarsh, by the very kind Sheffield City Council. Whilst this is classed as ‘green’ energy research has shown that there are significant concerns in relation to such plants.
The plant will burn pre-used wood, which presents its own challenges.
Burning wood emits a similar range and level of pollutants as burning coal, with variations within the level of individual pollutants. The largest volume of air pollutants includes nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) small particulates (PM10 and PM 2.5). The use if virgin wood as fuel also emits various pollutants, too numerous to mention.
Burning chemically treated waste wood involves the same range of pollutants, but includes heavy metals, dioxins and furans. Other emissions will depend upon the chemicals used to treat the wood.
Researched experience (World Health Organisation) indicates that:
- Air pollution is strongly linked to heart disease and strokes, less so to lung disease and cancer,
- Long-term exposure to NO2 is linked to reduced lung functions and increased bronchitis in children with asthma,
- Short-term exposure to NO2 is linked to the inflammation of airways,
- NO2 is an important source of fine particulates (PM2.5),
- NO2 is a source of ground-level ozone, which is linked to breathing problems, asthma attacks, reduced lung function and heart/lung disease,
- Long-term exposure to small particulates (PM10) is linked to respiratory and heart disease, and to lung cancer. There are no safe levels of exposure to PM2.5,
- High levels of SO2 affect the respiratory system and lung function,
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are carcinogenic,
- Dioxins and Furans are highly toxic and persist long-term in the environment. They can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, cause cancer and interfere with hormones. Air emissions of dioxins can be inhaled but they can also pollute the food chain.
Other pollutants emitted by biomass stations can cause similar health issues.
It is interesting to note that Sheffield have built their two plants, with their £200 million pounds of funding, in Blackburn Meadows, on the edge of Rotherham, and at Holbrook, on the edge of NE Derbyshire. Perhaps they feel this is part of their duty to co-operate!
NO and NO2 are emitted from biomass plants, but by far the largest source of such pollution is from petrol and diesel vehicles.
To add to the already high levels of pollution emanating from the M1 motorway your plan intends to add almost 25% more people and vehicles to the ‘mix’.
This is unfair, unreasonable and eminently dangerous. Many people, particularly the older generation, have historical lung problems through exposure during their work in local mines. Young children should not be exposed to increased levels of pollution.
I am aware that your statistics will say that there will be less than four people per dwelling and fewer cars that two per home, but the reality of Killamarsh is that my estimate is the reality – hence much on-street parking.
he whole essence of the NEDDC Local Plan is sustainable development. This, in my view, is impossible to achieve within the terms of the draft Plan.
The topography of Killamarsh, particularly in relation to the recommended development sites, counters any claim to sustainability. Most of the sites, and all of the larger sites, are located on top of steep inclines.
The local public transport providers have recently reduced their services to the west and east of Killamarsh, making travel by car inevitable. Buses passing my own home are either completely empty or occupied by less than a handful of people. The reality is that people prefer to travel by car. Attempts to suggest otherwise are ridiculous, and no attempt to force people to adopt inconvenient, infrequent and ineffective public transport systems will work. Even the links to the Supertram network at Halfway will necessitate travel by car.
Shopping trips would be impossible either on foot or by bicycle. In any event, with almost half of the current working population commuting to either Sheffield (predominantly), Rotherham or Chesterfield, this will doubtless be mirrored in any new development. Many people need to be mobile at work, necessitating the use of a vehicle. They then do their shopping during lunchtimes in the towns and cities where they work or call at Morrisons or the popular Aldi store on their way home. This will only get worse.
With the work on HS2 and Gulliver’s Valley, together with the other issues I have highlighted, residents of Killamarsh will be living a nightmare.
Developers may promise to build new retirement homes, new shops, new doctor’s surgeries etc., as Harworth Estates have already suggested, but someone else has to pay for them to be staffed and operated. Buildings are easy to build but not to operate effectively or profitably.
The current doctors’ surgery is overrun, the dentist cannot take new clients (and has not done so for some time) and the schools will have significant financial pressures in the immediate future (as the chair of a school governing body I am painfully aware of these pressures). Developer contributions will not fill funding gaps.
Unless significant amounts of money miraculously appear the whole Killamarsh project is doomed to failure – not for the developers, who will happily cash in on properties with excellent locations and views, but for the existing residents.
If this is sustainability, it is not my idea of it.
If this is an unwelcome picture of doom, I apologise. However, residents in 2033 will find it to have been accurate.
The vision of the future Killamarsh, as espoused by Opun Designs, East Midlands, is an excellent one, and one to which I have happily contributed.
Once again this hopes for funding from a variety of sources, including developers, and is aspirational in terms of financial backing rather than realistic. No organisation appears to have the power to steer the project – unlike Eckington where there was a funded steering group for their town centre development.
The only light at the end of a very dark tunnel is the restoration of the Canal. This would be a welcome addition to the meagre leisure opportunities within Killamarsh, and would right a horrendous planning mistake which allowed the canal route to be built over.
The green corridors will provide much-needed, healthy leisure routes within Killamarsh, but these will only partially compensate for the loss of Green Belt land, currently used for leisure activities, if the Plan goes ahead.
Chair of RAGE
(Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion).