Milford Mills development – May news

In January we described how Wavensmere Homes’ planning application to build 67 homes on the Milford Mills site (see here for details) had been rejected by Amber Valley Borough Council. This was in respect of the archaeology of the site, regarding protection of remaining underground artifacts of the original mill and it stopped Wavensmere from undertaking any further activity on the site.

An archaeological  survey has now been completed, and Wavensmere have just received written approval from the County Archaeologist to remove the buried structures (with the exception of the nationally important archaeological remains being the lade, wheel pit and tail race). Wavensmere have fenced the areas containing these off with a buffer of at least 5 metres to prevent any potential damage. They have mobilised their site clearance contractors, Cawarden, this week and they have since started to remove the concrete tanks within the ‘open space’ to the rear of the site.

One of the main structural problems reported in January was that a section of the lade walls had collapsed.  Now, in May, the structural repair of the collapsed lade wall section has been completed and backfilled, and Wavensmere are pleased with the workmanship. They have made plans with Derwent Hydro to re-open the lade this weekend as there is general concern between Wavensmere and Derwent Hydro that the ‘dry stone’ lade walls were historically structurally supported behind by layers of clay. Consequently, by keeping the water flowing through the lade, it seeps through the wall by design, in order to keep the clay behind wet and therefore strong and intact. Therefore, the longer they leave the lade ‘dry’, the more risk they have of the clay layers drying out and causing more instability of the wall.

Wavensmere have plans this summer to re-install the dual cofferdams back into the lade and drain it again, at which point they plan on re-facing the wall with the original stone.

In consequence of the archaeological survey and all the remedial work just described, Wavensmere have resubmitted their planning application as AVA/2023/0265 and have provided a summary of the changes they have proposed to make to the original approved application by Clowes, below.

  1. Merging the 2 x approved apartment blocks near the river, into 1 x slightly wider apartment block. The historically approved plans did not conform to a number of recent changes in the building regulations in terms of energy reduction, fire safety and accessibility.
  2. The lade was re-surveyed post demolition by Chevin, and it was found that the lade ran in a slightly different direction to what was previously understood. This therefore clashed with the previously approved ‘plot 26’ which would have been positioned in the middle of the lade.
  3. Submission of a concrete ‘box culvert’ structure to allow the road to be build over the lade, whilst maintaining flows through the lade underneath. On the historic application no information was submitted or requested to detail how the road would be physically supported over the lade.
  4. Retention and exposure of the ‘wheel pit’ within the central public open space.
  5. General re-designed building elevations to raise the quality to something we believe is more fitting to the local area. With inspiration and a materials palette taken from a local residential scheme at Smedley’s Mill.

The main S73 planning application was validated by Amber Valley BC on 3 April, with a statutory determination period of 13 weeks. A decision is therefore expected on/around 26 June.

Wavensmere have provided the following timeline for work on the site going forward.

They expect Cawarden to complete the work described above shortly and then next week move onto the excavation on the main site. This will involve a number of machines lifting the hardcore material out and crushing it for later re-use on site. At the same time they will also be salvaging some original flagstones and granite cobble setts on the eastern side of the side for future re-use within the scheme. They expect this work to take circa 4 weeks.

Works will then commence in the open space with the excavation of the balancing pond and flood compensation area – which is a planning obligation to undertake prior to commencement on the main site. They expect this work to take another circa 4 weeks.

Once both operations are complete, and assuming receipt of an acceptable planning permission and listed building consent, Wavensmere will finally be able to commence with building the housing on the site. By Christmas they aim to have installed and infrastructure (roads, sewers, utilities) and completed the majority of foundations ready for above ground superstructures to commence in Q1 2024. They anticipate being fully build complete (subject to sales) by the middle of 2025.

Wavensmere also stated that, contrary to rumours, they are not acquiring the recently renovated Dye House at the front of the site by the A6, but are looking at trying to secure a lease to rent it for their construction welfare facilities for the duration of the build. They also confirmed that they are not involved with the ‘higher piece of land’ behind the school.

For the September update and links to previous articles covering the development of the site, click here.


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