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Anger as developer dodges new climate change rules at Chesterfield site

A property developer has been able to exploit a loophole in national planning legislation, allowing them to build 26 affordable homes to cheaper sustainability standards, despite receiving £1.57million of public money towards the project.

Members of Chesterfield Borough Council’s Planning Committee begrudgingly granted permission for the development on land west of Swaddale Avenue, Tapton, despite being aware it does not meet the most up to date standards to combat climate change.

Senior planner Helen Frith explained that because the developer MYPad 2020 had pre registered the properties, they were able to take advantage of a loophole in Government policy allowing them to conform to 2013 building regulations as opposed to the updated 2022 legislation, which demand a much higher specification to lower emissions and address climate change.

Councillor Mick Brady stated the authority had declared a climate change emergency, commenting: “Well how disappointing is this, once again we’ve been slapped.”

He referenced the fact that MYPad 2020 had received what he called a ‘very significant grant’ of £1.57million from Homes England to provide affordable housing, commenting that the firm ‘didn’t have the excuses’ other developers might have when it came to financial viability of the project.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, architect Oliver Roberts explained that following the original submission of the application in 2021, the developer had to re-evaluate its biodiversity scheme to ‘reflect market conditions’.

He said the applicant had considered numerous measures to lower emissions, and while sustainability was still of ‘considerable importance’, the higher specifications were ‘no longer achievable due to viability issues, exacerbated by the rise of inflation and costs across the industry’.

Mr Roberts maintained: “This is a 100 per cent affordable housing scheme on an allocated site providing much-needed affordable housing in the area.”

He said the developer was going to make a financial contribution to offset the impact of the development.

Coun Brady commented that the planning committee existed to represent the local community.

He said: “All the time we’re finding National Planning Guidance overrules everything we want to do and we see this all the time and now the Government has allowed a loophole in the current legislation to allow these people by a bit of sharp practice to rely on the 2013 regulations.

“It’s intensely frustrating when we’re trying to make a stand within this town, on all levels once again we’re being dictated to by national legislation.”

Addressing the architect, he said: “I would have thought that you people would have worked to a high standard, clearly you don’t.”

Committee chairman Councillor Ian Callan added: “I think we’re all a bit frustrated by this.”

The homes will be fitted with energy efficient appliances and water saving features, as well as Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) and Photovoltaics (PV’s) to remove gas from the homes.

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