The following letter was sent to the Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park which summarises this Parish Council’s concerns about the Peakland Grange Housing Development and the fact that no Affordable Homes have yet been delivered.


The redevelopment of the Dairy Crest site was a unique opportunity to deliver a mix of housing that could have benefited the school and local people seeking affordable housing. However, with 21 houses now sold, there is not a single additional pupil or Affordable Home.

The 4 ‘Affordable Homes’ that were an essential reason planning was granted and which by legal agreement were meant to be completed before 50% of the houses were built, are still not finished, nor is there any likelihood they will ever be ‘Affordable’.

Hartington Parish Council, have throughout the past five years, in writing and meetings tried to get the Peak Park Authority to take action to deliver these homes for rent, as agreed at the Public Hearing. We now learn, the still uncompleted units,  are to be offered for sale at between £285,000 and £350,000. Completely unaffordable to local people! How did this happen?

Two applications, first for 39 and then 26 houses were made for the site. Both were recommended for Approval by Peak Park Planning Officers, but both were turned down by Planning Committee after very strong opposition from this community. Our opposition was based on too many houses that comprised almost entirely of large, expensive open market units, with no smaller homes and too few affordable units.

Each went to Public Inquiry before government Inspectors, in both cases lasting over 6 days of witness statements.

In late 2016, to our surprise, the 26 house development was approved by the Inspector. The plans included 4 Affordable Homes, which had been clearly identified and costed, integrated within the development rather than a single block. Their importance in the Decision was illustrated by the DDDC Housing Enabler and the head of the Local Housing Association attending every day in support of the development.

Throughout the Hearing, a Financial Appraisal was used by the appellant in which the 4 Affordable homes were shown at an average build price of £110,000 and more importantly, an income of just £65,000 per unit, which was clearly intended as the transfer price of the units to a Housing Association, well below all open-market units.

We assumed this would form part of the legal agreement, entered into between the applicant and the Peak Park Planning Authority to safeguard the Affordable Homes and which stipulated they must be built before 50% of the open market units were completed.

Building began in mid-2018 and the first five units were constructed in accordance with plans.

However, throughout the following two years, development continued with complete disregard to plans. House types were significantly different, there was extensive use of gritstone instead of limestone and in most cases three walls were rendered block as opposed to the stone construction  in the plans. We demanded enforcement action be taken but this was only forthcoming in the reduction of roof lights on the larger barn conversion.

In January 2020 under a section 73 application, a completely new set of plans were submitted which sought to validate all this building and went further in changing even more house types, In particular the Affordable Homes were vastly inferior to those in the plans on which the Inspector based his Decision.

We strongly opposed the new plans, but response from the then  Director of Planning was “yes there is a problem – but the developer had departed so far from the scheme that to return to the agreed plans was no longer a realistic situation”.

Unknown to us, in managing another section 73 Application in 2018, it appears the Authority failed to provide proper legal documentation relating to the Affordable Homes. This must have been the reason the Developer informed us, clearly angered by our continued opposition, that “he was no longer obliged to provide any affordable homes.”

Obviously aware they required a new legal agreement, planning officers recommended these completely revised plans and in In August 2020 the Planning Committee , despite our opposition and the fact that a new legal agreement was not signed, approved  them, losing any leverage from the unauthorised building or the chance to influence the content of the legal agreement.

Meanwhile no Registered Home Provider had been come forward,  so via our District Councillor we asked if DDDC could become that provider. We were told to our surprise, that the unit transfer price was too high for them to be commercially viable. Clearly the £65,000 per unit, or an equivalent reduction, which in the Hearing had been a key ‘enabling’ reason for the development, had vanished and not been secured by any legal agreement.

A further revised document between the Peak Park and developer in 2023, allowed the Developer/Owner to become the Registered Provider. Unsurprisingly the marketing of the units has been spasmodic, initially rents were offered, but now the units, although unfinished, appear to be ‘for sale’ at a price of around £300,000. Completely unaffordable to our local community.

The result is that we have no Affordable Homes with the remainder of the development completed and sold.

Enforcement when the developer built in complete disregard of the plans,  or rejection of the new plans by Committee, would have given the Authority a very strong position to re-negotiate a poorly drafted legal agreement, ensure timescales were met and transfer prices allowed a Housing Association to become involved.  Even now, why has enforcement still not been served to ensure the Homes were built before 50% of homes were completed?

The current legal agreement stipulates that their sale or rental price should be no more than  70% of open market units as determined by the district valuer. With other properties on the development selling at such high values this mechanism cannot work to provide affordable homes. This compares with a transfer price of less than 20% of open market homes value in the Financial Appraisal presented by the applicant at the Inquiry. A massive difference.

Any future development, anywhere in the National Park must legally ensure the transfer price of affordable homes allows them to be affordable. Otherwise plans should be refused.

Likewise, any mass unauthorised building should be subject to an enforcement order otherwise a developer can build what they want. The CPRE (Friends of the Peak Park) described the Hearing performance of this community as ‘the best example they had seen’ and subsequently gave the services of their barrister for free to consider a judicial review against the Inspector’s Decision. However it is almost impossible to challenge an Inspector’s Decision and we were advised against proceeding.

This has been an abject failure by the National Park Planning and Legal team.