DAY 3 The Inquiry

The Inquiry Thursday 21st July

This third day of the Inquiry opened at 9.30 as will tomorrow’s session.

Yesterday we finished with the evidence of Christopher Gallagher so today it was the turn of Stephen Levrant to offer evidence in support of our heritage case. Stephen is a chartered architect specialising in historic buildings and conservation. He was made a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1977 and has been a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation since its inception. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings and has served on the latter committee for many years. He has also been involved in many important conservation projects.

As you know KV is represented by two barristers both of whom were in action today. First it was Jack Smyth’s turn to introduce Stephen. When introducing his proof of evidence Stephen emphasised the importance of the Grade II star Kedleston Hotel and explained why it was sited where it is. He considered the best views from the building were in the direction of the appeal sites and that they should be considered to be in the setting of the Hotel.

Setting is an important concept when discussing heritage assets such as listed buildings because the relevant Act says that when the Inspector is considering appeals such as these two he has to give special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting. That statutory protection does not cover other heritage assets such as the Registered Park and Garden and the Conservation Area at Kedleston. Although they do get protection from other guidance that is not as strong as this statutory protection. Consequently, KV has been trying to persuade the Inspector that the appeal sites are within the setting of Kedleston Hall and Catesby has been saying that they are not. Stephen has introduced another consideration by introducing the idea that the appeal sites should be regarded as being within the setting of the Hotel.

KV’s second witness was Neil Benison and he was introduced by Nina Pindham. Neil is associate director for transportation at Mewies Engineering Consultants Ltd and has over nineteen years’ experience in the fields of traffic and transportation. It should be explained at the outset that KV has had some difficulty with these topics because of the fact that AVBC and Catesby have signed statements of common ground based on the lack of opposition in principle from both Derby City and Derbyshire County Councils. These are the two relevant highways authorities.

Many of the objections to these planning applications from local residents however related to highways and transportation issues so KV was anxious to put a case forward, which our recent fund raising made possible. Neil was able to criticise the model used by Catesby to generate likely traffic growth associated with this development and to suggest that based on the figures used in the submitted transport assessments there were problems on Kedleston Road now and a likely scenario of an increasing number of trips being diverted particularly up Askerfield Avenue if the appeals were allowed.

That will come as no surprise to local residents. What is needed now to build on the evidence presented by Neil are local residents willing to turn up in Alfreton on Tuesday 26th July at 10.00 am to describe what the traffic is like now and what the fears for the future are if the developments proceed.

A highways issue was also raised by Peter Steer, KV’s final witness. This was the T-junction for the 195 dwelling application which is close to the Quarn Drive/Kedleston Road junction. Briefly Peter explained that a single access point would not work because in order to achieve the gradient required to provide a reasonably level footway at the access both the road and footway would end up on an embankment going in to the site. If that ever became blocked, through an accident for example, it would not be possible to get vehicles in or out of the smaller site. Rupert Warren’s response was to refer to the statement of common ground agreed between Catesby and AVBC which relies on the lack of objection from the highways authorities.

Peter had also produced two proofs of evidence relating to surface water and foul drainage. At the suggestion of the Inspector discussions took place during the morning between Peter and the senior engineering hydrologist for RPS Planning and Development working for Catesby Estates. There is now a joint statement from the two which, given the known concerns of residents in the immediate area, is reproduced here.

Our case was completed after about three hours this morning and in the afternoon it was the turn of Catesby to produce their first witness, Duncan McInerney, speaking on landscape.

He argued that the landscape including the appeal sites was not exclusively agricultural given the housing along Kedleston Road, Memorial Road and Somme Road and that it was not a valued landscape for planning purposes albeit it may be regarded as such locally. There was a discussion about Areas of Multiple Environmental Sensitivity because the concept had figured in many of the objections to the applications and about the character of the Estate Farmlands.

Mr McInerney was cross examined by both Jonathan Mitchell for AVBC and Jack Smyth. During the course of the cross examination he accepted that building houses on these greenfields would change their character and that some harm would be caused which had to be weighed against the benefits of the scheme. He also agreed that the roundabout for the larger scheme at the bottom of Askerfield Avenue would make that junction more conspicuous in the landscape in the early years of development.

On behalf of local residents KV made two points. Firstly that the hedgerows had been allowed to grow more than usual and secondly recent tree planting had taken place at the Memorial Road junction. It is understood that these were planted by the Kedleston Estate.

Tomorrow is likely to be dominated by the cross examination of Andrew Crutchley, who is Catesby’s heritage spokesperson, and may not extend late into the afternoon. 9.30 start.

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