Retirement apartment plans return for a third time in Derbyshire town

Plans for a block of retirement apartments could face rejection after three applications for the same Derbyshire site in two years. The project, submitted by GDMA Developments Ltd, would see a block of 15 retirement apartments built off Chesterfield Road in Matlock – next to the 150-year-old Lilybank Care Home and the 100-year-old Assembly of God Church.

Plans for a block of retirement apartments have been submitted for the site on two other occasions in the past two years. The applicant withdrew its scheme in both instances after receiving recommendations for refusal from council officers, alongside opposition from local councillors.

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Council officers have again recommended that the plans are rejected, at the third time of asking. The applicant, which also owns Lilybank, has reduced the size of the proposed scheme from three storeys to a mix of two and three storeys and from 21 retirement apartments to 15.

The proposed design of the retirement apartment block
(Image: Oulsnam Design Ltd)

However, council officers still feel the proposal would still cause harm to the neighbouring historic buildings and say the design is “confusing, restless and prosaic”, with elements that are “are out of place and inappropriate”. The side of the proposed building facing Lilybank would be three storeys tall and the side facing Chesterfield Road would be two storeys, with the scheme sitting on a steep slope.

Plans for the scheme show that the central flat-roofed section of the building would have grass and wildflowers planted on it. A statement submitted by Oulsnam Design Ltd, on behalf of the applicant, says: “The proposed development has been carefully designed to ensure that it positively addresses the concerns raised in respect of the earlier planning applications.

“It will fit comfortably on the site and will be in keeping with the character and appearance of the area as well as preserving and enhancing the setting of Lilybank. The provision of 15 sheltered apartments for the elderly in this town centre location will positively contribute to the viability of the town centre.”

Matlock Civic Association, has commented on the application, saying: “The new application is not as large and dominating and is set back further from Chesterfield Road – these are welcome improvements. However the new scheme is now of a design that is completely inappropriate to the location on the edge of a conservation area.

“By eliminating the existing view of Lilybank Hydro from Chesterfield Road it actually detracts from the character of the area.” The Derbyshire Swift Conservation Project has asked that 15 specialised bricks, mimicking nests for swifts, be installed as part of the project to cater for three known local colonies.

Five objection letters have been submitted by nearby residents opposing the scheme, detailing: “The proposal is on a blind bend opposite solid white lines there has already been two accidents around there in the last 12 months, one involving school children as there is a school just up the road.”

Another comment was: “We are already having a new fire station built within a short distance on Chesterfield Road and the surrounding residents don’t want the 15 apartment retirement complex built.”

They also comment that the scheme would see the loss of green space in favour of concrete and the design would not be in keeping with the area. The scheme would include eight two-bed apartments and seven one-bed apartments, with 19 parking spaces – eight of which would be in an undercroft car park, under the eaves of the building.

Of the apartments, eight would be reserved as affordable housing. Council officers, recommending refusal, wrote: “The siting, expansive footprint, form and design of the apartment building is such that it would appear as a harmful and incongruous building within the streetscene that would not respect the character, identity and context of this part of the settlement and would result in less than substantial harm to this part of Matlock Bank Conservation Area.

“The siting of the apartment block and the position of windows and balconies is such that the development would result in the unacceptable overlooking of neighbouring properties to the detriment of the occupant’s residential amenity.” They say these negatives outweigh the positives of providing accommodation for elderly residents.

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