Views from local residents on the application for up to 425 homes on land to the west of Rykneld Road
In February 2023 residents were asked for their thoughts about housing development being proposed on a land allocation to the west of Rykneld Road. Most residents were aware that housing was proposed for this area, and many were aware of the application. Few had actually responded to the consultation themselves, believing it to be 'a waste of time', 'it would make no difference' or similar. However over 100 surveys were returned.
There was clear support for a primary school as part of the development, although concern about the impact of schools traffic, and real concern about wider traffic impacts. The loss of green space and already inadequate local services were also raised. Detail of the layout is still to be decided, and local views on location of the school, access points and off-site improvements could reflect the views of local people.
Planning application 22/01771/OUT was received by Derby City Council in November 2022 to build on part of the AC20 Local Plan housing allocation. The principle of housing was well-established so this was an opportunity to influence the detail. As well as the statutory consultation, local councillors included an article about the proposed development in local newsletters.
During February 2023 a short survey was delivered to homes on Rykneld Road (from the city boundary to Haven Baulk Lane) and Haven Baulk Lane (from A38 bridge to Rykneld Road), together with the closes off these streets towards the development site. This is a wider area than covered by the statutory consultation letters.
Among several questions there was one on the proposed development. This included a link to the planning application and asked residents for their thoughts on the proposed development. It specifically asked for their views on whether the development should include a primary school. See inset image.
Over 100 forms were returned, though not every response included replies to all questions. Some respondents included comments, some relating directly to the development, some voicing other observations about the area. Some respondents also shared their views with the survey team verbally. This report reflects all these sources of opinion.
Initial contacts from residents had raised the concern about the potential for schools traffic to impact on existing streets. This was a particular concern for residents of Pendleside Way, where there is no formal turning head on the street and a walk-through to the school was proposed.
Nearly ¾ of respondents who expressed an opinion thought that there should be a school as part of the development (80 v 30). Fewer expressed views on whereabouts the school should be positioned, and some opinions were directly contractory (eg near the A38 and away from the A38). However a majority felt that it should be central to the development it is serving.
Alongside the support there were also concerns, predominently about the impact of travel. One respondent commented that it should be "near the opening of the estate [to] give residents minimum traffic". Others commented about the location of walking and cycling routes.
There were comments about the value of green open space for children.
Several people also voiced concerns about the need for secondary school places, and the difficulty already of getting a place at Littleover Community School.
The introduction of yet more traffic into the area was the most frequently voiced concern, both in conversation and in written comments. In the minds of longer-standing residents this housing follows on from Heatherton, Highfields and the recent bats estate off Leslie Close, as well as traffic felt to be generated by the new Aldi. Queuing traffic on Rykneld Road and Haven Baulk Lane were most frequently mentioned.
There was concern about road access to the development from a single point. 400 homes from a single access does seem high, however there was also a desire not to have links through the estate. A partial solution could be to build just a few additional homes from existing potential points, completing the ends of Castleshaw and Pendleside Way could remove a dozen homes from Burghley Way access. Any such construction should be accessed from the development side, not existing streets to minimise impacts on existing residents.
Residents of Rykneld Close were keen to have meaningful talks with the developer at an early stage due to issues around land ownership on their private road. If these can be resolved to mutual satisfaction a few more homes might be able to gain access from here.
There was a recognition from some people that current alternatives to driving are poor, with reference to the need for better cycle and walking routes and for better bus services, including to the Royal Derby Hospital. There was a specific request for another controlled crossing (pelican or maybe toucan) close to Burghley Way.
There was scepticism that improving these offers could move anyone from their current car use thus creating road 'space' for new residents. Further lengthening of queues feels inevitable to people.
There was also concern about the ability of the A38 to respond to additional traffic, particularly while the junctions to the west of Derby remain at grade.
A broad concern about loss of green open space was voiced in different ways. For example by rejecting the idea of any development, requesting dog walking routes/areas and prioritising areas for nature. Observations about this include:
The lack of public services in the area was mostly expressed as dissatisfaction in the local GP surgery. This already has a poor reputation locally and the potential addition of another 400 families to their list is seen as only making matters worse. Dentists were also mentioned, and as local councillors we know that the local community centre is seeking to extend as it is well used and more capacity is needed.
Apart from Heatherton Community Centre the only 'community' buildings in the wider local area are schools (which these days have very little real community use), the church and pub. This is reflected in the need for shared polling stations for elections. There had been a local corner shop on Haven Baulk Lane. Would a corner shop be an asset for this side of Rykneld Road again?
This area was originally planned to be developed comprehensively with the land to the east of Rykneld Road. This second area is probably still the best location for additional community facilities, but linkage and expectation to meet this need for western area should be registered.
Several residents living adjacent to the development site wished to minimise the impact on their properties by ensuring that the new homes would be no more than two storeys high, or if possible bungalows.
Others asked for more affordable housing, particularly larger properties for families. While recognising that it would be unlikely that the individuals requesting this would be the recipients of such new properties, there is a shortage of larger affordable homes in the city, so this seems a reasonable expectation. Council owned housing was preferred over housing association properties.
The impact of more development on climate change was also raised, questioning the need for more housing and requesting the use of brownfield land first. The energy efficiency of new housing and designs/layouts suitable for solar panels, or provision of solar panels from the start, were mentioned.
The noise and air pollution from the A38 was seen as an issue by some people. Maybe this strip should be part of a 'green' circular dog-walking route, as nearly indicated on the submitted plans.
There are several watercourses and ditches in this area, and people commented that parts have been known to flood. The most notable is the Holly Brook, which follows hedgerow lines from the A38 to the pass under Rykneld Road near the Holly Brook Pub. It would seem a pity to culvert this under the suggested school site - and impractical for the school to leave this open.
Other hedgelines also have ditches and there is concern that these are not being factored into the drainage proposals. The sites identified for pond features (for wildlife and runoff management) seem to bear little relationship to the slope of the land or existing features, such as those existing ditches. Dry pond areas are generally disappointing as open space features.
Reference was made by some respondents to learning from other new developments. New open spaces, children's play areas and good walking and cycling routes were all mentioned in this context.
Making areas feel more established, with front garden planting, and public realm facilities like seating, litter bins and noticeboards, are also valued.
Several people mentioned waste and recycling. The importance of minimising waste is as true for housing developments as for households. Being aware of bulk movements of materials would also minimise the impact of HGV and other vehicle movements during the development of the site.
Local residents have low expectations of being able to influence what is to be built close to them. They feel it is a 'done deal'. However at this stage there is scope for significant changes to the layout proposals for the development.
The observations and experiences of people living close to the site have the potential to add value to the more theoretical knowledge of professionals tasked with the design of the new development. This value comes in many forms, including the attractiveness of the new built area to potential purchasers and to minimise the adverse impacts on existing residents.
We would therefore welcome this report being shared with the developers and are happy to expand on the points raised here as far as we can.
Cllr Lucy Care
Cllr Mike Carr
Cllr Emily Lonsdale
6 March 2023