Introduction to Whiston Action Group
• Formed 2005 and represents Whiston Village residents.
• Funded by local contributions.
• History – has successfully resisted planning proposals that residents felt would have an adverse effect on the community.
• 2011 mandate from the village to resist Laver Leisure plans to excessively develop Moneystone Quarry.
• Currently responding to the Churnet Valley Master Plan being prepared by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC)
• Tourism development on a large scale.
• Laver Leisure presentation Feb 2011.
• District Council Core Strategy – planning policy until 2026 – WAG challenging legal compliance and soundness.
• Churnet Valley Master Plan – Options Report
• Five options being considered .
• WAG Alternative Masterplan submitted Feb 2012.
- Public consultation closed on 24 Feb 2012.
- District Council write Draft Churnet Valley Master Plan.
- On approval developers likely to make planning applications.
• Current tourist numbers are already degrading tourist ‘hot spots’ .
• Geography, topography and infrastructure of the Churnet Valley do not allow for the type and proposed levels of increased tourism.
District Council Failings
• Flawed method of identifying Key attractions and opportunity sites.
• Outside commercial interests have shaped the plans for business profit.
• Council failure to consult with residents.
Better Tourism not More Tourism
• Better quality of tourism to maintain the current numbers of tourists.
• Protect the area from the damaging effects of increased numbers.
• Current District Council proposals are at odds with the Government’s guidance.
• Planning policy should encourage development on Brownfield sites around the three towns and not the protected areas of the Churnet Valley.
• WAG has gathered evidence of the failure of the District Council to follow its own Statement of Community Involvement in the consultation process.
• There are grave concerns about the Core Strategy that may lead to a Public Inquiry.
• Consequently, any further work on the Churnet Valley Master Plan is premature.
• The lack of openness by the District Council has given rise to WAG preparing an alternative plan for consideration, that may be presented to a Government Inspector in his review of the draft Core Strategy.
• 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, and currently planning a survey of public opinion to inform development of more detailed suggestions.
Learn from the Peak District
• Peak Park planners encourage small and local businesses to cater for visitors.
• Advantage – money spent in the Park stays local.
• The Churnet Valley Master Plan should adopt the same approach.
• Additional housing provision is best suited closer to employment near the towns of Leek, Biddulph and Cheadle.
• Other than housing to meet local need, additional housing is inappropriate in the Churnet Valley protected areas as it simply adds to commuter traffic on the roads.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- WAG supports the significant public interest in declaring the Churnet Valley an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- At present the District Council fails to recognise the public’s obvious enthusiasm.
- WAG supports Councillor Linda Malyon of Ipstones bidding for AONB status
District Council Processes
• 15 Nov 2011 – CV Masterplan Options Report was put before the SMDC Cabinet.
• Despite concerns expressed by Residents at the meeting about the process, contents, ‘evidence’ and conclusions of the Masterplan, the Cabinet approved the document for public consultation.
• 16 Jan 2012 released for public consultation until 24 Feb 2012.
• On the same date 800 pages of ‘evidence’ posted on SMDC website.
• Five options presented without justification.
District Council Failings
• The District Council is in substantial breach of its own Statement of Community Involvement procedures for proper and meaningful consultation with communities.
• Core Strategy – does not meet the test of Legal Compliance or Soundness.
• Consequently, the Churnet Valley Masterplan Options Report has no underlying validity.
• Non-compliance renders the five Masterplan Options invalid for want of credible evidence, because the consultation procedures adopted are unreasonable and defective.
• The District Council fails to show how or why ‘stakeholders’ were identified and allowed to shape the Options process without asking and/or permitting residents to be part of that process.
• The District Council fails to explain why a “tourism corridor” has been adopted.
• The District Council fails to consider the damage that existing levels of tourism are already inflicting upon the Churnet Valley e.g.
• Erosion at the Roaches, parking problems at ‘hot spots’ such as the Roaches, Tittersworth, Cheddleton, Froghall, Oakamoor and Alton.
Whiston Action Group Assertions
• The entire preparation of a draft Core Strategy and Churnet Valley Masterplan is flawed.
• The lack of supporting evidence and public consultation require that the process should start again from scratch.
• Production of a flawed draft Core Strategy and Churnet Valley Masterplan without full and properly conducted evidence-based research and community involvement renders it open to challenge in the courts.
• WAG invites the District Council to reflect on its processes to date and whether they would be supported by independent scrutiny.