At a full Council Meeting on Wed 25 July 2012 Staffordshire Moorlands District Council voted 29 to 15 in favour of submitting the Core Strategy document to the Secretary of State for consideration. The document sets out planning policy for the Staffordshire Moorlands through until year 2026 and has taken years to draft. In a raft of policies, it includes the intention of developing tourism throughout the Churnet Valley and considerable housing development in the towns of Cheadle, Leek and Biddulph and in rural villages. Whiston Action Group, along with many other objectors during the public consultation phase, raised detailed concerns in relation to the legal compliance and soundness of the document.
The important decision was taken in the presence of a packed public gallery, in the face of numerous representations voiced by some district councillors, notably relating to the extent of housing in the Cheadle area; the inadequacies of the road infrastructure to cope with the scale of the proposed developments; heavy metal contamination issues at the old Boltons Copper Works and the apparent disinterest of the District Council in supporting the designation of the Churnet Valley as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A government inspector is now expected to be appointed to examine the document. The inspector may call upon objectors to meet him to provide evidence of their concerns.
District councillors serving Kingsley Parish Council (includes Whiston area) were present. It was noteworthy that despite WAG representations regarding the document not being sound, Councillor Elsie Fallows took no active part in the debate, and contrary to WAG hopes voted in favour of approval of submission of the Core Strategy. District Councillors Clowes and Bull declared family interests in land at Cheadle and withdrew from the chamber at the start of the meeting and were unable to vote on the issue.
WAG will now prepare for the government inspection.