Community representatives in the Loxley Valley are monitoring the site of the derelict Hepworths refractory as work starts on cleaning it up.
They are wary after fighting off plans by the land owner, Bovis Homes, for a big housing development in the bottom of the valley, which is in the green belt.
A Bovis Homes spokesman said: “The work at Loxley is being carried out solely for health and safety reasons. A small amount of demolition is being undertaken as well as a site-wide tidy-up of building debris and damaged building materials. We are working with our contractors to complete the 10-week programme of works as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.”
Loxley Valley Protection Society, which was at the forefront of the protest campaign, welcomes the prospect of the “eyesore” being removed, but hopes it is not a preliminary move towards development.
“A few years ago there were talking about 400 to 500 houses which we were very much against,” said secretary Jan Symington. “It is not sustainable in the bottom of the valley.”
Community representatives say the scheme stalled last time because of the recession, and it could be revived with a pick-up in the economy.
Some want the land to revert to countryside, while others believe a small, carefully designed development, in keeping with the industrial heritage and the neighbouring Peak Park, may be acceptable. They say they will respond if plans are submitted.
The council says it is aware of the poor condition of the site and will continue to encourage Bovis to ensure proper maintenance.
and security and will monitor the site and any effect on the environment.