Allow the Union Foundry, Chester Green to be used for non-residential developments.

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Bruce WIggins
Bruce WIggins signed this petition

We urge Derby City Council to reconsider their refusal of non-residential developments of the Union Foundry, and reopen negotiations with interested parties:

  • in order to preserve this historic building in the conservation area of Little Chester (Chester Green), Derby (the council use the building as the showcase, front cover, building on this leaflet!) The factory made a significant contribution to the Industrial Revolution and is in the buffer zone of Darley Mills World Heritage site.
  • To avoid placing additional residents and emergency services at risk of the dangers of flooding.

Currently, the council are pursuing residential development, and the likely destruction of the factory building.  No proposed residential developments on this stretch/side of the river (which is flood zone 3, the highest flood risk category, as defined by the Environment Agency) have passed the Sequential and Exception tests allowing such developments.  This will likely result in another historic building left to rack and ruin in the City.

The Union Foundry/Aida Factory site in the Little Chester conservation area, Derby, has been derelict for years.  It's been subject to two unsuccessful residential development attempts due to objections from the Environment Agency as it's in a flood zone 3 as defined by the Environment Agency, and no developers have been able to demonstrate that there are no alternative sites available at lower flood risk (see these withdrawn proposals and objections) Recently, after a tragic accident resulting in the death of a young boy, the council purchased the site from Aida, securing the building and funding 24 hour security. The council purchased the site at a bargain price (as Aida were unable to sell the site privately for residential development). However, even given the problems with previous developments and the failure to pass the Sequential and Exception Flood tests, the council have decided to pursue building up to 100+ dwellings on the site.  Chris Morgan has confirmed (26-06-19 Our City Our River drop in session) that 100% of these will be for social housing (as the council will need to self insure the site, as new development in flood risk areas aren't eligible for guaranteed affordable flood insurance by the Flood Re scheme so the housing will be unsellable as private dwellings).  Currently, Council plans look to demolish the historic Union Foundry (Aida) building with the frontage only to be retained if it's cost effective and funds allow (and one of the four example designs drawn up by the council completely demolished this historic building).  The factory made a significant contribution to the Industrial Revolution and is located in the buffer zone of Darley Mills World Heritage site and in the Little Chester Conservation Area.

All developments in a flood zone 3 require a sequential test to prove that no other suitable sites are available in Derby City : "Only where there are no reasonably available sites in Flood Zones 1 or 2 should the suitability of sites in Flood Zone 3 (areas with a high probability of river or sea flooding) be considered, taking into account the flood risk vulnerability of land uses and applying the Exception Test if required."  No developments on this stretch and side of the river have successfully passed this test in its current form, as far as we're aware.  However, non-residential development has been allowed, for example, in the nearby former Tomlinson building, after the Environment Agency objected to a residential development but subsequently approved non residential proposals.

Recently, GNC proposed a non-residential development of the site (a Heritage Vehicle and Skills Centre).  Developments, such as these, have been successful in a Flood Zone 3 on this stretch of river.  In a GNC letter to the council and interested parties, after the Council turned down their proposal, they wrote "[This] proposal was enthusiastically received across the council and the wider community but was apparently stymied by a bureaucratic wormhole resulting from the source of the funds the council used to purchase the site. To overcome this we have proposed ways to design a mixed-use development (60+ homes plus our project), were prepared to fully reimburse DCC their purchase price (effectively making the flood wall land nil cost) and even offered the Council a substantial stake in our operation. Unfortunately, despite many of the officers and elected members agreeing the GNC project was the best outcome, the Council didn’t navigate around this funding issue, instead choosing to press on with housing in spite of the technical difficulties, heritage implications and local resident’s concerns."

The upshot of this will likely be the wasting of large amounts of public money on a site that isn't suitable for residential development (compared to other sites at lower risk of flooding across the City) and with the historic Union foundry remaining undeveloped, and needing 24 hour security due to the current dangers of the site, for the foreseeable future (the regeneration department have already had four sets of housing plans drawn up, and soon after abandoned due to the complexities of the site).

The expiry date for this e-petition (i.e. when I'll send it to the council!) will be 10th July, 2019


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