Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for Building Stone

Progress so Far

5         Progress So Far - What You Have Said and How We Have Responded

5.1       The situation with building stone is not the same as for aggregates because there is no specific target output or apportionment required. It is almost impossible to develop a framework to predict the need for building stone.  As a result, the need for the stone has to be assessed when planning applications for a specific site are submitted.  At the Issues and Options stage in 2010, we asked you whether we should identify specific quarries or devise a general policy against which to assess all proposals.

5.2       There was more support expressed for a criteria based, rather than a site specific, policy, but this was not unanimous.  There was also support for a combination of the two options.  The sustainability appraisal (see below) also provided no clear direction regarding this issue. 

The Sustainability Appraisal found that the impacts of either option are uncertain until either sites or policy criteria are chosen.

It concluded that Option 1 (specific sites) would provide certainty to meet specific needs to support the character of buildings and settlements reliant on the types of building stone found in Derbyshire.     It concluded that the significance of the effects of both options on heritage and landscape will depend on the specific locations of the specific sites and their extensions identified under option 1 and the criteria proposed under option 2.

It states that Option 1 may not maximise its support to the building stone industry and therefore have negative effects on the achievement of economic objectives. This would meet a particular market need but may not provide flexibility for the industry to bring forward proposals to respond to market demand over the plan period or from other operators, which do not have existing building stone quarries.    



5.3       As a result of the responses to the Issues and Options Paper giving no clear steer regarding this issue, and taking account also of the conclusions of the sustainability appraisal, we suggested at that time (as reported in the Analysis of Responses to the Issues and Options Paper, 2011) that specific quarries could be allocated to ensure that specific conservation projects have sufficient stone to meet future needs and that a general criteria based policy would enable other proposals to be assessed as they came forward.  

5.4       However, since that time, we have had more detailed discussions with experts at English Heritage and the National Stone Centre regarding the issue of building stone, in particular regarding the Strategic Stone Study, a joint project led by English Heritage with the British Geological Survey and Derbyshire County Council.  This establishes the significant building stones used in historical buildings in each county and the potential quarries which could supply it. 

5.5       It became clear through these discussions that the identification of specific sites for the working of building stone would, in reality, be highly problematic.  This is because future proposals for building stone result from a specific conservation need and, as shown by the Strategic Stone Study, would therefore relate to a particular location and specification of material.  Also, given the specific characteristics of building stone and the significant variation between localities, it is not considered practical or appropriate to identify sites.  It is worth noting also in this respect that operators have not put any sites forward for building stone through the MLP.

5.6       In view of these factors, it is not now considered a realistic option to make provision for the future working of building stone through the identification of specific sites.  The issue with building/dimension stone is not so much where it is extracted from, but more the quality of the mineral and the likely end market. For this reason, the Councils do not propose to restrict new building stone quarries geographically but to judge proposals on strict criteria on the quality of the stone, size of site/output and intended markets. As building stone workings are likely to be relatively small scale and limited in number, a criteria policy is considered to be the most appropriate and realistic approach to enable provision to be made for the working of this resource over the Plan period.