Developer accuses Peak Park Authority of being ‘closed for business’

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A DEVELOPER has accused the Peak District National Park Authority of “being closed for business”, after a £25 million business park project was refused planning permission for the fourth time in a decade.

Litton Properties have suffered setback after setback since their 2001 purchase of the Riverside Business Park in Bakewell - home to 50 businesses including the new Thornbridge Brewery site.

The Pilsley-based developers submitted applications to regenerate the Buxton Road site in 2005, 2006 and 2010, and have now had their fourth plan rejected by the National Park Authority.

Each time, members have objected to the level of affordable housing in a block of apartments on the site.

Last February, when the third application was refused, managing director Mark Twelves told The Star: “I’m not sure how much appetite we have to go through this again.”

But, spurred on by encouragement from the park authority’s planning officers, he drew up new plans.

Now, after being turned down again, Mr Twelves said: “We are bitterly disappointed. The officers worked very hard on a complex scheme and did their job.

“But we were let down by the committee, who didn’t seem to trust us as a developer, or trust their own planning department.

“The message the committee is sending out is that the Peak District is closed for business.”

Officers recommended the committee approve the amended blueprints.

An officer report to the board said they accepted the 76 homes were needed to help pay for job-creating commercial units and a new bridge across the River Wye from the A6 Buxton road.

But members refused the application, voting 11 to two, with one abstention.

Yet again, the housing development was the sticking point.

Members opposed the loss of employment space, the form and location of the flats, and said the lack of affordable housing would “not secure the long term sustainability, vitality and viability of the business park”.

John Herbert, committee chair, said: “We want businesses to thrive but we also have a duty to protect the interests of the residents and the landscape.

“Members felt in this instance the balance of this application wasn’t right. Members were worried about access improvements to the site and when these would be done.”

Opposition came from Bakewell Town Council and Bakewell Community Interest Group.

Mr Twelves is deciding whether to appeal.