Tag Archives: Red Road

AONB Petition by Churnet Valley Conservation Society

WAG welcomes the following request from Karen Seaton of the Churnet Valley Conservation Society, seeking your support for a petition aimed at achieving        Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status for the Churnet Valley.

 Karen Seaton CVCS Spokesperson says:

 “We are not so sure that people are aware that the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Core Strategy was recently rejected by the Government Inspector, who found more than 70% of the points within it to be unsound. We feel that there is a very serious risk that, with the council floundering to complete their strategy documents, time may slip away and we will miss this important opportunity to protect and recognize the valley. We are asking people to contact Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and support us in two requests we have made to them:    

1. During the next public consultation phase for the Churnet Valley Master Plan include a simple question: Would you be in support of designating the area as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

2. Should it be apparent that the electorate of the area do wish to obtain this important designation for their area, that the District Council fully embraces the potential and opportunities AONB designation offers.

We are undertaking a four week long petition and contacting a range of people and organizations across the county asking that they support our call, and we are asking as many people as possible to contact their County, District, Town and Parish Councillors and ask them to pressurise Staffordshire Moorland District Council into action. “

 The Churnet Valley Conservation Society would be happy to discuss this further and I would be pleased if you could support or campaign for the designation of the Valley as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The petition is available across the area in shops, libraries, pubs etc. An on-line petition may also be found at https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/staffordshire-moorlands-district-council-support-area-of-outstanding-natural-beauty-status-for-the-churnet-valley

Or follow the link from http://www.churnet-valley-conservation.org/

WAG Open Meeting attracts wide ranging public support.

 

WAG’s open public meeting at Whiston Village Hall on Friday evening (02 Nov 2012) attracted over forty members of the public, not only local residents but people from villages throughout the Churnet Valley and other parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands, demonstrating wide ranging interest in concerns raised by WAG. An opening statement emphasised that WAG’s rigorous evidence based approach is intent on passing on conclusions based on facts – not opinions or gossip. Presentations were given by several speakers on a variety of issues, the most contentious being the Core Strategy Submission; Village House Building Proposals; Laver’s failure to restore Moneystone Quarry in accordance with the legally binding restoration plan, and public health concerns regarding the contaminated site at the Old Bolton Copperworks.

The District Council’s Core Strategy document, consider by many to be neither legally compliant nor sound, is currently being considered by the independent Planning Inspectorate. The inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, is to hold a Pre-Hearing Meeting at 10am Tuesday 11 Dec 2012 at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street, Cheadle, where he will set out the procedure and arrangements for his formal examination to be held in February of next year at Leek Council Offices. Anyone who made representations about the Core Strategy is encouraged to attend.

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), submitted as a last minute addition to the Core Strategy, raised many eyebrows. The document, compiled by SMDC officers in liaison with only landowners and developers, identifies and prioritises specific plots of land with housing potential in and around many villages in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Both during and after the meeting numerous attendees expressed their dissatisfaction with the complete absence of consultation by the District Council on this important issue.   The document has been submitted with the Core Strategy without public input.

On 11 Sep 2012 Laver Leisure circulated a letter to households in Whiston, Oakamoor and surrounding villages stating their intention of submitting within two weeks proposals to Staffordshire County Council to change the longstanding and legally binding requirement to restore Moneystone Quarry to farmland. No such application has been submitted and consequently, in the absence of any further communication from Laver to residents, a state of uncertainty exists within the community as to Laver’s future intentions.

The audience was surprised to learn that the Old Bolton’s Copper Works site is not recorded on the District Council’s contaminated land register, despite the council’s own specially commissioned Taylor Young Report identifying high levels of contaminants and a serious public health risk. In addition, a portfolio of evidence gathered from ex-employees pointing out precisely where contaminants are buried has been submitted to the council, who can have no excuse for failing to act. However, it is perhaps re-assuring that following representations from the Foxt Action Group the concerns have now been registered with the Environment Agency, with an investigation pending.

On a more positive note, there was considerable support for WAG’s Quiet Lane initiative, aimed at overcoming some of the tourist related traffic problems of increasing numbers of vehicles inappropriately using the Churnet Valley’s narrow country lanes. WAG has already received supportive comments from Karen Bradley MP, and now County Councillor Mike Worthington has been nominated by the Highway Authority to deal with the matter. WAG’s public survey of 100 road users demonstrated unanimous support from both residents and visitors. WAG’s proposal for a pilot scheme along The Red Road between Oakamoor and Alton, with suggested funding from Alton Towers monies committed as a condition under their last planning consent, is currently under consideration by Councillor Worthington. The pilot scheme would be a first step in achieving a network of Quiet Lanes in the core of the Churnet Valley, so that cyclists, horse riders and walkers could safely share our narrow lanes with slow moving vehicles driven with care and consideration.

Overall, a high level of enthusiastic support was received from attendees and after the meeting, Harry Blood, Chairman of Whiston Action Group, commented:-

 “I was very pleased with the turnout, particularly the interest and support shown by newcomers, as we continue to challenge inappropriate decisions that will affect our communities in the Churnet Valley for years to come. The importance of keeping locals in the picture on future plans for the Churnet Valley is exactly what the Government is expecting local councils to do. Sadly that message is largely ignored by SMDC. WAG is clearly filling a local need which is why the meeting went so well.”

 

Quiet Lanes in the Churnet Valley – interest from Karen Bradley MP

The WAG initiative encouraging Staffordshire County Council to give Quiet Lane designation to narrow lanes in the Churnet Valley has received welcome encouragement from Karen Bradley MP.  The initiative is aimed at encouraging drivers of vehicles to give greater consideration to walkers, cyclists and horse riders, thereby reducing road safety concerns emanating from sat-nav users and Alton Towers traffic taking short cuts on inappropriate roads.

Earlier in the year WAG conducted a survey of road users in the Churnet Valley the results of which demonstate wide support amongst both residents and visitors, across a wide spectrum of road users.

Extracts from Karen Bradley’s letter include:-

“You and the rest of the residents who have been involved in this project should be highly commended for the work that has gone into producing this piece of work.  The issue of “quiet lanes” in the Moorlands is something that I have raised previously in the House of Commons so it is pleasing to see you and other residents taking the initiative in this way.

I would be most interested to hear any further news about this project and will bear your comments in mind when I am talking to the relevant ministers.”

WAG is now progressing the initiative with County Councillor Mike Worthington, who has been nominated by Councillor Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council.

Quiet Lanes in the Churnet Valley – Road User Survey Report by WAG

Quiet Lanes - safety for all

In 2012, during public consideration of the Churnet Valley Master Plan proposals, Whiston Action Group (WAG) received anecdotal verbal evidence from residents in the lower half of the Churnet Valley expressing concerns regarding tourist visitor related traffic on the area’s narrow country lanes.  The comments included concerns relating to inappropriate speed; inconsiderate driving, and traffic volumes that were considered in conflict with walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The neighbouring counties of Cheshire and Derbyshire have already helped resolve similar problems in tourist areas by implementation of a “Quiet Lanes” national policy that is available for adoption by all county highway authorities.  The provision aims to encourage vehicle drivers to harmonise more effectively with other road users.    There is the potential for Staffordshire County Council to implement similar schemes on the lanes in the Churnet Valley aimed at encouraging low volumes of vehicles travelling at slow speeds, thereby benefitting walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

 

The concerns expressed by the public were only anecdotal.  Consequently, in the spring/summer of 2012 WAG set out to gather more reliable evidence by conducting a public road user survey in the southern part of the Churnet Valley.

The survey report has now  been completed and forwarded to Councillor Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, and County Councillor Mike Worthington, who represents the Churnet Valley, to inform their considerations.   The survey coincides with a July 2012 announcement by Mike Penning the Government Road Safety Minister encouraging local highway authorities to cut speed limits on many rural roads.  He was quoted as saying, “It is vital that speed limits are suitable for local conditions and councils are best placed to determine what these limits are, based on local knowledge and the views of the community”.

WAG’s survey results contribute towards establishing the local knowledge base and express the views of local road users.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s planning proposals for increased tourism in the Churnet Valley will exacerbate the existing traffic pressures on an area of outstanding natural beauty.  WAG’s hope is that Staffordshire County Council will recognise public concern regarding existing traffic problems in the Churnet Valley and follow the lead of neighbouring counties by introducing simple Quiet Lane cost effective measures as one step in protecting the peace and tranquillity of the Churnet Valley.

A copy of the road user survey report can be viewed via the following link.

Quiet Lanes Survey Report 2012