Consultation Draft (February 2017)
2. SPATIAL PORTRAIT
Description of the Area
2.1 North East Derbyshire covers an area of 276 square kilometres, and has a population of just over 99,000 people. It forms part of the North Derbyshire and Bassetlaw Housing Market Area (HMA), together with Bolsover, Bassetlaw and Chesterfield Borough. Because of its geographical position on the border of North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire it also sits within two Local Economic Partnership areas; the Sheffield City Region, and the D2N2 economic area covering Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
2.2 The District wraps around Chesterfield and adjoins four other local authorities' areas including Amber Valley to the south, Derbyshire Dales to the west, Bolsover to the east, and Sheffield City to the north. The west of the District is largely rural and forms part of the eastern edge of the Peak District National Park. The area covered by the North East Derbyshire Local Plan is however that part of North East Derbyshire which falls outside the Peak District National Park, which is a local planning authority in its owns right. Map 1 shows graphically the Local Plan area, its location within the wider East Midlands region, together with its relationship with other nearby towns and cities.
2.3 North East Derbyshire being located in the centre of the country has good accessibility to high quality transport links, with the M1 motorway junctions 29, 29a and 30 lying to the east of the District, providing communities and businesses with access to the motorway. It also has the Midland Mainline running through it. Whilst Dronfield is the only one of the four towns in the district with a railway station, Chesterfield, with fast and direct rail connections to Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and London to the south, and to Sheffield and Leeds in the north of England, is easily accessible to residents and businesses.
2.4 The District comprises the four main towns of Clay Cross, Dronfield, Eckington and Killamarsh, together with a number of large and small villages, and hamlets set within attractive countryside settings. The four towns have important roles to play in providing the economic and social hearts of communities in North East Derbyshire, and are home to about 48% of the population. Clay Cross is located in the south of the District, whilst Dronfield the district's largest town, and Eckington and Killamarsh are located in the north. Outside of these towns 34% of people live within larger villages with a good range of facilities, whilst the remaining 18% are scattered within the district's other smaller settlements.
2.5 In broad terms, North East Derbyshire can be subdivided into four distinct sub-areas. These areas display close physical and functional relationships, each having their own characteristics and development needs to be addressed in the Local Plan. The four sub-areas are outlined graphically on Figure 2.1, and described in more detail below.
2.6 The north of the District contains three of the District's four towns; Dronfield, Eckington, and Killamarsh, and a number of much smaller settlements surrounded by countryside comprising mainly of wooded hills and valleys. The rural area lies entirely in the Green Belt and the towns and other settlements have generally been developed up to their boundaries, meaning that there is few development sites still available within their existing built up areas. All three towns have a coal mining history, although there is little evidence of that today. Each of these towns has its own designated town centre, which in the main are relatively successful in terms of local shopping and service provision. There has however been a need identified to regenerate all three centres in order to improve the quality of the town centre environment. These towns relate closely to the Sheffield conurbation and just under a quarter of people commute out of the District to work in the city.
2.7 The south of the District contains the town of Clay Cross and a close grouping of other former mining settlements that includes Grassmoor, North Wingfield, Tupton, Wingerworth, and Pilsley. Set within open countryside these settlements have a strong a sense of identity and community which is characterised by the important open areas between them. Clay Cross is currently undergoing major regeneration in and around the town centre. This will be complemented by the re-development of the Former Biwaters and the former Avenue industrial sites that have both been identified as important strategic sites that will provide new homes, jobs, and community facilities following their restoration.
2.8 The east of the District contains communities and employment locations which are strongly linked with Chesterfield and the M1 motorway, including Holmewood, Calow, Long Duckmanton, and Temple Normanton. The area contains the business and distribution park with Enterprise Zone status at Markham Vale, as well as a major area of previously developed land at the former Coalite works, a large part of which is within Bolsover district. Sutton Scarsdale Hall, a Grade 1 listed Georgian ruined stately home, is located in the east of the District, and the settings of Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Hall, both within Bolsover, have cross boundary implications in the east of the District. It will be important that any new development in the east takes this into account and is sensitive to the need to protect these designated heritage assets.
2.9 The west of the District lies on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and is particularly attractive including some of the finest Derbyshire landscape outside of the National Park. The area contains a number of villages and farms set in a rural backdrop of dark millstone grit that has provided the stone for many of the buildings.
Figure 2.1: NORTH EAST DERBYSHIRE DISTRICT Sub- areas
2.10 A key feature that gives the District its distinctive character is the green space that separates and links its towns and villages. Local people have already identified the importance of this green space and a key feature of the Strategy will be to protect and enhance the most important areas and ensure that opportunities to access this countryside are increased. The District also has a number of other important historic and environmental assets that play a crucial role in characterising its urban and rural areas. These include listed buildings and conservation areas as well as a large number of important sites for nature conservation.
2.11 There are 23 parish councils and one town council located within the District. As of the publication date of this draft plan, there were five Neighbourhood Plans being prepared for the parishes of Ashover, Dronfield, Holymoorside and Walton, Wingerworth, and Wessington.
2.12 Drawing on the demographic data and information related to the District and its communities detailed within the Annual Monitoring Report, the Sustainability Appraisal, and other evidence base documents there are a range of important issues in the area that the Local Plan will seek to plan positively for or help to address. Whilst some of the issues identified are relevant at national and regional levels, the list includes both positive and negative attributes and focuses specific issues relevant to North East Derbyshire. These key issues which are not ranked in any particular order of priority or importance are set out below:
North East Derbyshire, in common with many other areas, is experiencing an ageing population. This will have implications for certain types of housing and other infrastructure such as access to the health service provision.
Settlements and Separation
2.14 The District contains four main towns together with a number of other large and small settlements set within attractive countryside and landscapes which are highly valued locally.
Within the existing built up areas of settlements past development has gradually taken up most development opportunities including on previously developed land. As a consequence there will inevitably have to be some loss of countryside in order to meet the district's development needs.
Across the south of the District the settlement pattern is characterised by a number of large villages and the town of Clay Cross. Some of these settlements lie in relatively close proximity to one another and in certain areas development has led to their coalescence such that their individual identity and the sense of separation between them is a cause for concern.
In the north of the District lie the towns of Dronfield, Eckington and Killamarsh. Given that these towns are surrounded by Green Belt, there are issues in balancing the housing needs of these specific areas against the impact on the Green Belt and the countryside.
2.15 There is a need for more housing across the District to cater for future increase in households including for affordable homes, specialist housing, and gypsies and travellers accommodation.
The high ratio of house prices to household income means that affordability of housing is a key issue for many parts of North East Derbyshire. Just under a quarter of households cannot afford market housing within the District with households in the south being considerably less likely to be able to afford market housing than households in the west sub-area.
Economy & Employment
2.16 The District has a low jobs density and there is a need to provide local employment opportunities close to where people live in order to reduce out commuting from the district.
The District has traditionally relied on manufacturing and there is a need to diversify the local economy to create jobs in growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, logistics and knowledge based sectors.
North East Derbyshire has lower than average wage levels, and a lower proportion of the workforce with higher level qualifications when compared with regional and national averages.
Unemployment is high in some parts of the district, including within Grassmoor, Holmewood, Heath and Clay Cross south wards.
There is potential to capitalise on the district's tourism and visitor economy given its location on the edge of the Peak District National Park and its close proximity to a number of other important tourism attractions. These include existing ones such as Chatsworth House, Hardwick Hall, Bolsover Castle, Renishaw Hall, and the potential new major leisure and visitor resorts being planned on the Birchall Estate near Unstone in Chesterfield, and the Pit House West site near to Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham Borough.
2.17 The town centres of Clay Cross, Dronfield, Eckington and Killamarsh are all in need of continued support and investment to build upon their strengths, and to help sustain and regenerate them into the future.
Elsewhere across the District there is a hierarchy of smaller local centres which need continued support to sustain their role as day to day shopping destinations.
2.18 Although not a major issue across North East Derbyshire the Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that there are pockets of deprivation. About 10% of the District's population live in the top 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and suffer from challenges associated with low income, poor health, low unemployment, poor education and skills, and difficulties accessing housing and services.
2.19 The level of health and life expectancy of people living in North East Derbyshire differs significantly between those people living in the most deprived areas compared with those in the least deprived areas.
Accessibility and Transport
2.20 North East Derbyshire is well located to other major centres of population and has good access to national road and rail networks due to its proximity to Junctions 29, 29a and 30 of the M1 motorway, and stations on the Midland Mainline.
Traffic congestion is an issue at specific locations in the District especially along the A61 corridor which can become congested during busy periods, particularly if there are problems on the M1.
Bus services are relatively frequent within the main towns, but more patchy and infrequent in the more rural parts of the district.
Dronfield is the only town with a railway station, but elsewhere residents and business have access to the railway station at Chesterfield that provides good services both to London and the north of the country.
2.21 New development will generate a need for new or improved infrastructure and solutions will be needed, in consultation with infrastructure providers, to enable future development needs to be accommodated.
The District contains a network of green and blue infrastructure assets that are important for their recreation, landscape and biodiversity value, and which require safeguarding and improving for future generations to enjoy. There are significant opportunities to improve linkages between areas of open space, parks and the wider countryside.
Climate Change and Flooding
2.22 Although the risk of flooding is not widespread it is a constraint to development in certain locations at the district's main towns and some of the larger villages including North Wingfield, Grassmoor and Wingerworth.
Ensuring that development contributes towards reducing flood risk through its location, design and layout by improvements to drainage infrastructure and the use of sustainable drainage systems will be a priority.
There are opportunities to increase the capacity of renewable energy generation in the district to help reduce emissions and climate change.
Water, Air and Soil Quality
2.23 Improvements in water quality in the district are required to meet the standards required by the Water Framework Directive.
The development of new and improved infrastructure to accompany growth has the potential to lead to an increase in soil erosion and soil loss.
Overall air quality is good in North East Derbyshire. Although the more densely populated areas in the east of the district and close to the M1 motorway have the highest levels of air pollution, no Air Quality Management Areas are currently declared in the District.
2.24 A significant number of protected sites and species are present in North East Derbyshire, and growth will place pressures on this biodiversity resource.
The District's landscape is one of contrast and diversity. Woodland, hilly pastures, green dales and waterways all contribute to the District's landscape, making it unique from other areas across the country. There are potential effects on the integrity of the district's landscape.
2.25 There is a wealth of heritage assets across the District that adds to the character of the area and which is in need of long term protection and management to maintain its long term future.
Good design is a key aspect of achieving sustainable development in North East Derbyshire and new development should positively respect the area's local distinctiveness and sense of place through its design especially in regard to heritage assets.
Archaeological remains, both seen and unseen have the potential to be affected by growth and development in North East Derbyshire.