Category Archives: Quiet Lanes

WHAT’S HAPPENING – MONEYSTONE QUARRY – A BRIEF UPDATE

  •  Laver Leisure Planning Application – Laver Leisure have submitted an application to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for outline planning permission to develop Moneystone Quarry into a leisure facility including 250 holiday lodges.    The development will generate a massive increase in traffic for the villages of Oakamoor and Whiston on our narrow country lanes.   More details on the problems and what you can do to express your views will follow shortly on this web site.  To view details of the application visit the Staffordshire Moorlands planning website via the following link.
  • Solar Panel Array Application – A separate solar array planning application for the quarry has also been submitted and is listed for hearing before the Staffordshire Moorlands Planning Committee at 2pm on Thursday 27 Nov 2014.  There are concerns regarding the panels being a visual intrusion into the landscape and fears that damage will occur to the flora and fauna of the site.  There is still time to express any concerns you may have by visiting the SMDC website via the following link.  A Senior SCC planner raised concerns on 3/10/14 that the plateaux in Quarry 2 which the applicants intend to use to erect part of their solar array cannot be so used as it is in contravention of a scheme of restoration and aftercare that Laver Leisure has so far failed to complete.
  • Crowtrees Farm Equestrian Centre Application – Laver have currently withdrawn their application to establish an equestrian centre at Crowtrees Farm, but there is no guarantee that it will not be re-submitted in a different format.

 

Laver Application Moneystone Quarry – A52/Whiston Eaves Lane Safety

Laver ‘s recently submitted planning application for Moneystone Quarry raises serious concerns regarding inevitable increases in traffic on Whiston Eaves Lane at its junction with the main A52 road outside the Sneyds Arms.  The situation  presents potential safety issues for all road users.

The following photographs show the dangerous layout of the junction and in particular the very poor visibility for vehicles attempting to pull out of Whiston Eaves Lane onto the main A52

Sight line towards Froghall and Kingsley along A52
Sight line towards Froghall and Kingsley along A52

 

Sight line towards Ashbourne along A52
Sight line towards Ashbourne along A52
A52 from entrance to former Sneyd's Arms PH towards Frogall and Kingsley
A52 from entrance to former Sneyd’s Arms PH towards Frogall and Kingsley
View along A52 towards Ashbourne
View along A52 towards Ashbourne

 

A52 from near St. Mildred's church looking towards Ashbourne.  Whiston Eaves Lane on the right in the dip.
A52 from near St. Mildred’s church looking towards Ashbourne. Whiston Eaves Lane on the right in the dip.
An example of the HGV traffic on A52 on a quiet Thursday afternoon!
An example of the HGV traffic on A52 on a quiet Thursday afternoon!
HGV on A52 towards Ashbourne after just passing Whiston Eaves Lane on driver's RHS
HGV on A52 towards Ashbourne after just passing Whiston Eaves Lane on driver’s RHS

Traffic Chaos

A request for support from members of the public concerned about  tourism related traffic congestion in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Some of our councillors don’t appear to accept that existing levels of tourism generate considerable traffic issues at busy times in the Churnet Valley across a variety of routes and hot spot locations, including, Tittersworth, Rudyard, The Roches, Oakamoor and Alton.  For some time now Whiston Action Group has been gathering video and photographic evidence of existing traffic congestion throughout the Churnet Valley, showing that encouragement of further traffic pressure on our fragile road infrastructure is inappropriate.

WAG intends to expand and develop the evidence base of what increased tourism is already doing to our  roads in the Moorlands, and seeks the support of members of the public.   In this day and age of mobile camera technology it is easy to take a photo of any clogged roads you see whilst you are out and about.

WAG asks that you miss no opportunity to take those photos AND IF YOU HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO SO SEND THE PICTURES DIRECTLY TO COUNCILLOR SYBIL RALPHS AND ANY OTHER COUNCILLORS YOU WANT.

Sybil.Ralphs@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk

Please keep a note of the date, time and venue of the photos and let WAG know so that the data can be collated. There will be no need to forward the pictures to WAG as long as you preserve your own copy in case it is needed later.

This is an ongoing project and applies throughout the Churnet Valley  for the next twelve months.  Your contribution can help WAG fight inappropriate council proposals that are likely to exacerbate an already unacceptable situation.

 

Tittersworth Reservoir – Double Yellow Lines at Last

 

WAG’s publication of video recordings of longstanding traffic congestion problems at tourist “hot spots” along the Churnet Valley seems to have had some effect. On a recent visit to Tittersworth Reservoir the usual chaos of parked vehicles along the narrow country lane through to Meerbrook was seen to have been replaced by a new traffic free set of double yellow lines. Could it be that WAG’s video evidence gathering exercise was the catalyst that encouraged decision makers to sit up and take note of the existing traffic congestion issues associated with tourism in the Churnet Valley?
Perhaps they will now do something at the other end of the valley to address the more significant traffic issues associated with Alton Towers, where decades drift by with no effective action being taken.  Who wants more tourism when we can’t even deal with the problems we already have?
 

 

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  

Traffic Chaos at Tourist Hot Spots

In an effort to raise awareness amongst decision making district councillors about existing traffic chaos at “honey pot”  tourist locations in the Staffordshire Moorlands  WAG is gathering evidence for their consideration.    The first video showing irrefutable evidence of the problems at Rudyard Lake, Tittersworth Reservoir and The Roaches can be viewed via the link in the following letter sent to district councillors on 30 Aug 2012.

Dear Councillor,                                                 

As the Churnet Valley Masterplan proposals move towards preparation of a draft plan, you have an unenviable task as an elected representative in considering what type and scale of tourism is appropriate for the Churnet Valley. You perhaps have difficulty in assessing the array of often conflicting information and arguments that are placed before you. Detailed knowledge of issues within the ward that you represent is one thing, but achieving a full understanding of situations in every ward across the whole of the Staffordshire Moorlands area is perhaps a little daunting. Yet how can you meaningfully contribute to the debate without that wider knowledge?
Just to take one issue, that of tourist related traffic problems. Almost everyone is aware of the inadequacies of the road infrastructure across the district council area, and you may well have read or heard of the congestion problems experienced around the “honey pot” tourism sites. But have you actually witnessed these traffic problems to assess for yourself the nature and scale of what concerns so many people living close to them? I recognise that it is totally unreasonable to expect you to explore the whole of the Staffordshire Moorlands gathering first hand information on these problems. I would also question whether the office hours planning staff writing the draft report have first hand knowledge either, as they made no mention of such ongoing problems in the Options Report.
In response to that void of reliable facts Whiston Action Group (WAG) is willing to assist. One of the fundamental principles that WAG works to is ensuring that any judgements it makes are based upon facts and not anecdotal stories from often dubious sources that cannot be relied upon. WAG gathers evidence and is willing to share it with anyone having the interests of the Churnet Valley at heart. You may have doubts about the reality of traffic congestion problems and may have received assurances that such stories are unfounded and exaggerated. If that is the case I invite you to click on the link below to view our first video showing traffic issues at Rudyard Lake, Tittersworth Reservoir and The Roaches. You will see irrefutable evidence of existing tourism overwhelming the parking facilities and road infrastructure. Solutions to these here and now problems need your attention rather than encouraging yet more visitors to the area.
I trust you will find the video informative and assure you that WAG has the resources and commitment to assist in gathering the important factual evidence that currently you may be being denied. Our web site at www.whiston-action-group.co.uk is always worth a visit and our communications officer, Nick Cresswell, can be contacted on 07850 336587.
Yours sincerely,
Harry Blood
Chairman of Whiston Action Group.

Quiet Lanes in the Churnet Valley

QUIET LANES

  •  The Churnet Valley has an inadequate road infrastructure caused partly by challenging topography but also by lack of investment over many years.
  • Narrow country lanes in the Churnet Valley struggle to cope with recent increases in traffic volumes, particularly the traffic attracted to Alton Towers.
  • The introduction of Sat-nav has already exacerbated the tendency for Alton Towers visitors to use some lanes as short cuts, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Plans to develop Moneystone Quarry as a tourist site can only make the situation worse.

WAG’s Quiet Lanes Initiative

  • Staffordshire County Council, the Highways Authority, can designate certain narrow country lanes as “Quiet Lanes”, a policy that has already been adopted in neighbouring Cheshire and Derbyshire.
  • “Quiet Lanes” are intended to encourage low numbers of vehicles travelling at slow speeds to better mix with walkers, cyclists and horse riders so that all road users are safe.
  • The Churnet Valley is considered to be an ideal area in which to designate a network of quiet lanes.
  • An approach has already been made to Staffordshire County Council, the Highway Authority, with a request that the possibilities be explored.
  • WAG is also conducting a survey of road users to measure the level of public support .

More Information?

For more information on quiet lanes please follow the following links:

Department for Transport

https://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/traffic-advisory-leaflets/quietlanes.pdf.

East Cheshire Council’s Quiet Lanes Scheme

https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/transport_and_travel/highways_and_roads/streets_and_traffic/quiet_lanes.aspx.

Natural England

https://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/places/greenways/quiet_lanes/default.aspx .

Transport

Transport & Road Infrastructure Inadequacies in the Churnet Valley

• There is a current reliance on an inadequate network of roads and lanes.
• Concerns are already recognised by the Highway Authority, Staffordshire County Council.
• Despite this the District Council is promoting tourism expansion.
• WAG is in discussions with the Highway Authority on proposals to introduce a network of “Quiet Lanes” in the Churnet Valley under government legislation.
  • WAG is currently planning a public survey to measure support for “Quiet Lanes” to inform more detailed proposals.