You may or may not be aware that the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s Core Strategy has just undergone its independent review. This document is essentially the plan for all developments until 2026 affecting the whole of the Staffordshire Moorlands. WAG and Churnet Valley Conservation Society objected to the lack of consultation of this document and more specifically section SS7 detailing the plans for the Churnet Valley as a Major Tourism Corridor. As a result of this, the Inspector has asked WAG to re-write section SS7, giving WAG just two weeks to accomplish this task.
WAG are in the process of writing this section, but are not happy to submit the final document without local consultation. Therefore, we would appreciate your comments on the attached questionnaire by 20 February prior to the final submission. We are sorry that this is such a short time to comment on such an important issue, however our hands are tied as this is the inspectors turnaround time. We therefore really appreciate your prompt reply. Your input is greatly appreciated.
Click the following link to open the questionnaire 140213WAGQuestionnaire
Please open, save and complete the questionnaire and forward it by email to email@example.com
or by post to
Harry Blood, WAG Chairman,
4 Brookfield Close, Whiston, Staffordshire Moorlands, ST10 2JG
The independent Government Inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, has at long last provided residents with the first genuine opportunity to have their say on the future of the Churnet Valley.
During a three day hearing this week at Moorlands House, Leek, the Inspector scrutinised the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s Draft Core Strategy Document to see if it is fit for purpose. The inspection was rigorous and follows an avalanche of public criticism of the Council’s plans during the consultation phase, when thousands of comments were made by local residents, the main issues being the so called “tourism corridor” and housing development allocations.
The scale of public interest was so great that the packed public hearing had to be moved to a larger room at one stage. The Inspector heard evidence from Whiston Action Group representatives challenging excessive and unsustainable proposals for tourism development at Moneystone Quarry and other locations. The hearing heard about the inadequacies of the road infrastructure to cope with existing tourism problems stretching from The Roaches in the north down to Alton in the south. The scale of development proposed by the Council was considered ill thought out, inappropriate and unsustainable. Witnesses argued that better tourism, involving encouragement for small locally based businesses is required, not large scale tourism developments by outside commercial interests. The Peak District National Park is already suffering from an excess of unsustainable tourist numbers and wishes to off load that excess to the Moorlands, despite the serious risk that the Churnet Valley will fall victim to the same problem. Calls for the Council’s proposals to be scaled back considerably to a level that the area and residents can cope with were listened to with evident sympathy by the inspector who has taken the significant step of inviting objectors (mostly represented by WAG) to re-draft the key Churnet Valley Tourism section of the Council plan (Policy SS7), discuss their ideas with the District Council to achieve agreement if possible and then for him to review progress with a revised policy in two weeks.
WAG welcomes that recognition of its concerns and those of other objectors and is currently in the process of coordinating views to arrive at a revised draft policy for discussion with the District Council before responding to the Inspector’s invitation.
Over the next few weeks, the Inspector has said that he will be reviewing his proposed modifications to the Core Strategy before deciding whether the changes that he would wish to see can be incorporated satisfactorily or whether they are of such significance that he must return the Council’s Core Strategy for complete revision.
Nick Cresswell, WAG Communication Officer, said:-
“After two years of frustration with a District Council that does not listen to local residents, WAG is pleased to see the intervention of an independent public enquiry and looks forward to the day when an eventual plan will be produced for the future of the Churnet Valley that genuinely reflects the needs of residents.”