Robert Jenrick’s housebuilding push puts Derby site’s World Heritage status at risk

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Robert Jenrick
Robert Jenrick

A World Heritage Site in Derby was put at risk after Robert Jenrick overrode a council’s refusal to grant planning permission for a housing development, Unesco was told.

Two developments surrounding Derwent Valley Mill and its buffer zone have threatened the Unesco status of the historic silk mill, councillors argued.

One of the developments was revealed earlier this month to be a 17-storey block of flats in the centre of Derby. The second has now been identified as a 118-home development at Whitehouse Farm, on the outskirts of Belper.

Liverpool docks
Liverpool docks

The project was rejected by Amber Valley Borough Council over heritage concerns in 2017. However, the developer appealed in 2018, and last year Robert Jenrick, then Housing Secretary, overruled the council and approved it.

The development is located in the buffer zone of the mill, which was added to the World Heritage List in 2002 because of its early industrial landscape which was deemed to be of “high historical and technological significance”.

‘We know it will be tough to retain the status’

After Mr Jenrick’s decision it emerged that the leader and deputy leader of Amber Valley wrote to Unesco that they had “no confidence” in the Government “fulfilling its commitment to Unesco to preserve and protect the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.”

They also asked Unesco to consider adding Derwent Valley to its list of world heritage sites at risk.

Cllr Tony Harper told a council meeting last week: “We know it will be tough to retain the status.”

Were the site to be stripped of its designation, it would be the second British location to be delisted and only the fourth worldwide.

Earlier this year Unesco stripped Liverpool of its world heritage status because of substantial modern developments on the waterfront and docklands.

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