On 26 March 2014, against much public opposition, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council adopted the Core Strategy and Churnet Valley Masterplan, setting the overarching policy for planning development in the Moorlands through until 2026.  Large tourism development sites and an extensive house building programme are the main issues.

The allocation of specific sites will soon be announced, where development will be encouraged by the Council.   Major tourism development proposals will affect local communities.  Additionally, villages, such as Whiston, are at risk from  house building proposals that could have a negative impact on communities.  Over the coming months Moorlands residents can expect to see proposals for house building sites aimed at meeting major shortfalls in achieving the SMDC’s housing provision target.  Developers are keen to exploit green field sites and may well push to expand village development boundaries out into green fields.  In Whiston, one speculative application to build on a green field is already in the pipe line.  When viewed in isolation, the application is relatively innocuous, but if approved, would set a dangerous precedent that could open the flood gates for much more expansive development applications around our villages.

WAG is encouraging all District Councillors to look very carefully at the officer proposals for site allocations to do with both tourism and housing.  WAG suggests that each district councillor holds public meetings in their respective wards to engage with the public and take on board local opinion, so that they can speak up in the Council chamber at Leek and do the job they were elected for. Be aware that the officers preparing the proposals have targets to meet and may put forward proposals that you are not happy with.  You have the right and the power, through your elected representative’s vote, to reject inappropriate development.

Early in May, your District Councillor is to be briefed on the site allocation proposals and should be taking steps to consult with you and your parish council members.    If you want to protect your village from inappropriate development, it’s important that you engage with your local councillors to scrutinise what is proposed.  Ask when your community is going to hold its public meeting and draft questions  for your district councillor to raise in the chamber at Leek. Please start thinking about these issues now, talk to your councillors and ensure that they don’t sit idly by and allow officers to do as they please.    It is our community not theirs, so make sure you have your say.