Whiston Action Group is staggered to see the inclusion of a proposed 250 holiday lodges on the former Moneystone Quarry site in the current draft Churnet Valley Masterplan. This has alarmed local residents who feel the small villages of Oakamoor and Whiston will be totally overwhelmed by thousands of visitors in a completely unsuitable location.

Planning officers, not councillors have come up with this number of lodges, which appears totally without evidential base and at odds with Councillor Sybil Ralphs dream of attaining AONB status for the Churnet Valley. Such large scale development is completely at odds with AONB designation, and may explain why Laver Leisure have demanded that SMDC delete its AONB aspirations!

Whiston Action Group’s Communication Officer, Nick Cresswell, said,

“250 lodges is ridiculous and makes a complete mockery of the AONB application. The Peak Park Planning Authority sets a maximum of 30 units per development, but SMDC planning officers consider the beautiful Churnet Valley to be so unimportant that they are prepared to propose a development more than 8 times this size. Officers have not contacted Staffordshire County Council Highways officers about this proposed development, yet there are huge safety risks involved in dealing with the volume of traffic this development would create, and Highways officers have advised us of the dangers of large volumes of traffic exiting Whiston Eaves Lane onto the A52. Entering the site from Oakamoor would be similarly hazardous.

During the consultation on the options for the Churnet Valley, residents gave a clear message that they wanted only minimal development. As is becoming the norm, the views of residents are being completely ignored, and council taxpayers are being treated with contempt. It begs the question “Why do SMDC have consultation at all?” In my view the process is not transparent and is a pro forma and a box ticking exercise that they carry out to meet statutory planning requirements, then if the answers do not suit the officers views and aspirations, are completely ignored”.

“The scale of the Moneystone development beggars belief. Our narrow country lanes can barely cope with the current level of traffic and this development could see as many as an extra 100,000 vehicle movements per year, which is simply not safe.”

“SMDC officers seem to have just plucked a number out of thin air, without any thought or regard for the safety of residents, or the impact it will have on our two villages.”

“Whiston Action Group urges SMDC councillors to seize back the initiative and demand a re-draft of this proposal so that the number of lodges reflects a genuine attempt to gain AONB status, and, for once, to reflect public opinion!”