Developer hopes first resident will move onto new housing on former landfill in spring 2023

A developer will not say whether it will tell homeowners about contamination issues in toxic land on which it is looking to build a £47 million housing scheme.

By Eddie Bisknell
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 8:28 am
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2022, 8:28 am

Avant Homes has bought land known as Nether Farm, off Birchwood Lane, Somercotes, which in June was dubbed ‘one of the most contaminated sites in the county’ by Coun Ben Bellamy, Amber Valley Council deputy Labour group leader.

Planning permission for 200 homes was approved on the site in June 2021 after years of controversy and a High Court battle linked to an initial approval in 2018 and contamination concerns.

During the decision debate last June, it was discussed it had been discovered, through ‘limited’ investigation, that harmful gases and waste from the former toxic landfill known as LS01, south of Nether Farm off Norman Road, are ‘migrating’ from the dump through fractures in former coal mines in the area.

An aerial view of the proposed site.

Widespread ‘potential human health risks’ have been found, to the extent a membrane would have to be built beneath the homes, each of which would also need to be built on suspended floors.

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Coun John McCabe had said the site was ‘dangerous to the health and wellbeing of Somercotes residents’ and the homes could end up ‘valueless’.

Avant Homes has now announced it acquired the site in April, with the 200-home scheme valued at £47.4m.

If final details – a reserved matters application – are approved by the council, it hopes to start groundworks in autumn, with the first homeowners moving into the new properties in spring 2023.

Avant Homes was asked if it plans to inform homeowners about the contamination issues on the site, what remediation it would carry out and if it feels the level of contamination is acceptable for people to live on.

A company spokesman said: “The site has outline planning permission for 200 homes. Our reserved matters application is currently under consideration with the planning authority.

“The application has been carefully considered and will be supported by the undertaking of a full technical site investigation.

“The development’s construction will be carried out in accordance with all obligations set out in any planning agreement granted.”

The firm says the development would include properties ranging from two-bedroom terrace houses to five-bedroom detached houses, including 16 of Avant Homes’ design-led house types’.

Of the 200 houses, 30 per cent would be classed as affordable housing, totalling 60 properties, and the firm would pay £875,000 towards schools, health services, public transport and open spaces improvements.

Chris Coley, Avant Homes Central managing director, said: “Somercotes is a highly sought-after area and this site is an excellent opportunity to deliver much-needed, high-quality homes in a prime residential location in Derbyshire.

“Subject to planning, our aim is for this development to build upon the success of our recently sold-out Babington Quarter development, located close by in South Normanton.

“This is a testament to our commitment to delivering our sought-after homes in excellent locations throughout Derbyshire. We look forward to receiving the planning decision in due course.”

Caroline Chave, director at Chave Planning, the agent for the initial planning application for the Nether Farm site, said: “The proposed development will positively impact the local area and communities close by. We look forward to seeing the development come to fruition.”