Major changes required to Council Plans for the Churnet Valley

An independent Government Inspector considers the District Council’s Core Strategy development proposals for the Staffordshire Moorlands to be “Unsound” and has declined to give them approval without major changes being made.  Mr Patrick Whitehead, in his interim conclusions to the Council dated 05 March advises that numerous sections of the plan need to be re-written.  The damning report identifies only 5 areas of the plan that are “Sound”, but a massive 21 that are “Unsound”.  The report presents a major setback for the Council.


The Inspector’s criticisms follow a three day hearing in February when Mr Whitehead heard representations from the public, arguing that the Council had got the development plan wrong in many respects, including house building allocations and tourism proposals for the Churnet Valley.   At the hearing Whiston Action Group (WAG) members argued strongly that large scale tourism proposals for a “tourism corridor” in the Churnet Valley were inappropriate in scale and had been ill thought out.   At the invitation of the Inspector WAG drafted an alternative tourism policy for the Churnet Valley for his consideration aimed at supporting small locally based businesses that could promote tourism on a less intensive scale, more appropriate to the limitations of the environment and more acceptable to local residents.


Nick Cresswell, WAG Communications Officer , said:-


“WAG is pleased that the Inspector listened to us and has identified the flaws in the Council Plan.  It’s now down to the Council to respond to his comments.  The Council Cabinet will need to go back to the drawing board and this time genuinely listen to what the public want for the Churnet Valley.  Once proposals have been re-written, the Inspector requires a six week public consultation period during which time members of the public will be able to make a judgement and comment.  WAG hopes this is a new beginning but we have been let down by the Council before.  Time will tell.”


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