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Plans to dig up green space for electric vehicle charging points and parking

Derbyshire Live logo Derbyshire Live 18/08/2022 Eddie Bisknell

An area of grass and trees retained as part of a costly Derbyshire link road, completed in December, is set to be torn up and replaced with electric vehicle charging points and car parking spots. Eight months on from the completion of the £13.4 million Swadlincote to Woodville Regeneration Route, led by Derbyshire County Council, landscaping carried out as part of the project is set to be bulldozed.

First Developments Holding Ltd, which runs First Fence, directly adjacent to the site, off Kiln Way, the A514 and Woodhouse Street, wants to take on the land and promptly build on it. The county council remains the owner of the land but intends to dispose of it as part of the formal process of “stopping up” Woodhouse Street – which now runs to a dead end where it borders the new link road junction.

First Developments Holding intends to turn the area, including almost all of the grassed land, into a 47-vehicle car park, of which 24 spots would be for electric vehicle charging. The firm says that 44 of the spots would be for First Fence and three would be for adjacent businesses.

This is the layout of the proposed parking scheme, close to the new Swadlincote link road © SG Design Studio This is the layout of the proposed parking scheme, close to the new Swadlincote link road

It says that 11 trees on site would be retained, two would be cut down and 17 more would be planted along with more hedges, and would use permeable surfaces for the car parking area to prevent flooding issues. As part of the approval for the link road itself, the county council had agreed to retain the woodland and hedgerow for five years – in a deal with the National Forest.

The National Forest Company is not best pleased. It wrote: “The application site forms an area of land approved as an area of landscaping in connection with the link road.

“The landscaping proposed for the link road, including the current application site, was intended to mitigate the visual impact of the link road and create National Forest character. The NFC are therefore extremely concerned about the loss of this area of landscaping, and its replacement primarily with car parking.”

Councillor Steve Taylor, a district councillor, has objected to the plans for the “key gateway site”, writing: “Regeneration of Swadlincote has significantly improved the impression and perspective of the area for the community, visitors and investors. Significant importance was given to landscaping in the link road scheme – that is particularly evident at the newly created traffic island at the Swadlincote end.

Part of the proposed site is already being used for parking, even though it has double-yellow line markings © Derby Telegraph Part of the proposed site is already being used for parking, even though it has double-yellow line markings

“The application goes some way to completely destroying what has been achieved. Officers should consider the wider implications on the impression given our ambitions for the improvement of Swadlincote.”

Three objection letters have been submitted by residents, making clear that the landscaping around the link road was supposed to be retained and improved with additional planting – not developed. They write that the scheme “does not reflect the regeneration of Swadlincote from its industrial past”.

District council officers have recommended that the plans are approved at a meeting on Tuesday, August 23. They wrote: “The proposal is considered to reflect the aspirations of the Woodville Regeneration Area, and will support the ongoing operations of an existing employment use.”

Officers say that more landscaping is proposed as part of this scheme than had been agreed as part of the link road, saying the hedgerow could also be moved towards the roadside with the new plans. They wrote: “It is considered to assist in helping create a green corridor along the south of Swadlincote Road linking up with the woodland further west.

“In effect, landscaping of a more substantial and green nature would be delivered and moved closer to the link road. Consequently, the users of Swadlincote Road will appreciate this from further along the highway, improving visual amenity, and enhancing the role of this junction as the gateway noted in consultations.”

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