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                       protecting and conserving this natural area of outstanding beauty  


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The Moneystone Holiday Park was finally considerd by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's Planning Applications Committee on the 26th October 2023. The decision was to refuse the application. The reasons are clearly stated in the Decision Notice published on the 14th November 2023....

The site lies within the Churnet Valley which is an area of significant landscape, widlifeand heritage value. Policy SS11 of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan (adopted September 2020) sets out the strategyfor the Churnet Valley. It says that alldevelopment should be of a scale and nature and of a high standard of design which conserves and enhances the heritage, landscape and biodiversityof the area. The consideration of landscape characterit says will be paramount in all proposals in order to protect and conserve locally distinctive qualities and sense of place and to maximise opportunities for restoring, stengthening and enhancing distinctive landscape features.
It is considered that the proposed lodges, which are little more than caravans with cladding, fail to deliver the required high standard of design. Owing to the proposed materials and lack of any green roofs, lack of creativity and detailing of the lodges could not be said to be of an appropriate high quality nor do they add tovalue to the local area. They have not been designed to respect this sensitive site or its surroundings, noting that it is in part adjacent to the Whiston Eaves SSSI.
For these reasons the proposal fails to comply with Policies SS1, SS11, DC1and E4 of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework including but not to Chapters 12 which says that good design is a key aspect of sustainable development and Chapter 15 which says that planning decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by amongst other matters recognising the intrinsic charactr and beauty of the countryside and minimising impacts on biodiversity.

1. It is considered that the proposals are unsustainable and do not conform with the provisions of the NPPF.

So we await Laver Leisure's reponse...
Will they appeal or will they revise their proposals and try again at SMDC?

2. Whiston Hall Golf Club
Staffordshire County Council's Planning Applications Committee threw out the new application to reprofile the goif course on 9th June2022. We are monitering the situation of an appeal by the applicant. A date for the appeal is expected soon.

3. Area of Outstanding Beauty
The Churnet Valley was unfortunately not included in the announcement of the last two new AONB areas. Our MP Karen Bradley maintains her support of the bid for recognition as do SMDC.  However Her Majesty's Government has revised all landscape desginations and the Society is now considering how to respond to gain future recognition.


The Minutes of  the Joint CVCS/WAG Open Meeting  held at the Fox and Goose, Foxt on Monday 8th January 2024

Commenced.7.30 pm 

Attendees: —Peter Cowie (PG,) Dave Cooper (DC),  John Williams (JW), Helen Bridgett (HB) Michelle Beaumont (MB), Dave Walters (DW),

Diana Gardiner (DG), Gerry Bailey (GB), John Steele (JS), John Higgins (JH), and Annette Baxter (AB)

Apologies: -None.

1) Matters arising from previous minutes: - None.

2) Financial reports: -

2.1) CVCS: -Assumed to be the same as last time in the absence of notification otherwise.
2.2) WAG: - £608.04 as of end of December 2023.                                                                                                                                                                                                   2.3) GB had been in contact with the bank re signatories issue and as a result  it was proposed and accepted that from now on GB would be the sole signatory as Treasurer.

3) Natural Landscapes (AONB) accreditation update

3.1) JH updated the position as regards AONBs  as they no longer exist, being replaced by Natural Landscape.The rebranding of the AONBs in England as National Landscapes will strengthen their purpose, bringing them in line with National Parks. The shift should also enable additional funding sources and an increase in the profile of AONBs nationally. 

3.2) JH had contacted Jennifer Thorpe to find out latest position on the potential for designating the Churnet Valley. He was anxious to locate the file with the oroginal support letters from various organisations used in the previous application and will contact Keith Tompkin and SWT in the absence of any other info.

4) Alton Applications: -
4.1) SMD/2020/0679 Little Ranger: - Awaiting Decision.

4.1.1 JH and DG will speak against it if it comes to the PAC as scheduled on the 25th January. 3rd speaker could be Helen from the Ramblers Retreat if available.  

4.2) 6 Houses Cedar Hill: - Awaiting Decision.

4.3) SMD/2023/0226 Nabb Lane, Alton - Monitoring for Appeal till 11/01/24: -no further progress .

5) Planning breaches /Basford Hall estate.  

Re SMD/2022/0654 - Basford Hall, Basford Green Road, Cheddleton, Staffordshire, ST13 7ER. Proposed new compacted hardcore service track to existing Biomass Boiler across existing private agricultural land (part retrospective): - Refused 1/9/23 – Enforcement requirement.

5.1)  Guest visitors HB and MB were welcomed by JS on behalf of the group and spoke in great detail with photographs, plans and other documentary evidence upon the recent history of the site and numerous breaches of planning control being carried out by the Basford Hall Estate regardless of having no permission and ignoring the normal protocols.

 A large number of mature estate trees had been felled in an unauthorised operation to lay a supposed agricultural track across the flood plain of the Churnet Valley to link the two land holdings of Basford Hall and Consall Gardens Estate, both of whom are owned by the Moncrieff family. Two retrospective applications for permission have been refused by SMDC but no remediation or enforcement has taken place despite the obvious environmental damage and blatant defiance of planning regulations by the culprits involved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The current state on the ground remained a serious concern where the historic landscape had been badly damaged ; no TPOs  had been subsequently issued to protect other vulnerable ones; the overly large scale drainage pipes and hard core foundations for the road that had been excavated and laid in the illegal process, remained on site. 

5.2) Having heard the details of the situation CVCS fully supported the complaint and advised raising all the issues with local district and county councillors as well as local environmental organisations not already involved such as RSPB at Combes Valley. 

5.3)  JS also agreed to include the issues alongside other local matters of lack of enforcement being raised by Kingsley Parish Council with the SMDC’s  Head of Planning Development Ben Heywood at a meeting scheduled for the following morning.  

6) Cotton Applications: -

6.1) SMD/2023/0336 Solar Farm EIA Screening Options New House Farm, Cotton Lane, Cotton.

6.1.1)  DC reported upon the current situation  ie awaiting the EIA and a full application.                                                                                                                                     6.1.2)  He also informed the group that he was hoping to enlist the voluntary assistance of a local, fully qualified environmental expert for future consultation and advice.  6.1.3)  He had scheduled a site meeting with Matt Swindlehurst of SMDC for Thursday 11th January  to inspect the historic landscape and local environment that would be affected by the proposed development.                                                                                                                                                                                                                6.1.4) He had also received information that Cauldon Lowe Quarries had  expressed a similar interest in applying for a possible solar farm grid connection as a potential rival to the development.

6.1.5) Next meeting of the Save Churnet Valley Landscape group will be 29th January at theYew Tree, Cauldon Lowe.  

6.2) SMD/2023/0462 application for 44 Caravans, The Cross Inn, Cauldon Low.                   

DC  reported upon the tidying of the site but no other clear details have emerged. JS commented that the documentation submitted for the Certifcate of Lawfulness was best described as legal flim flam. eg making the case by use of precedent case law. 

7) Moneystone Park Phase 1 – Residual Issues: –

7.1) Enforcement of the SCC stop notice regarding the  scrap metal processing business.                                                                                                                                     DW reported that the date for the implementation of enforcement action had been postponed until May. It is presumed that the delay is to see what Laver intend to do as regards appeal.  

7.2) SCC Restoration Plan: -no progress.
7.3) Classification of former Quarry 3 as an ‘Above Ground Reservoir’ registration: - Still awaiting panel engineer's report and safety checks before licensing.

7.3.1) The possibility of no action being taken by Laver even though they now have permission (SMD/2022/0014), e.g., repairing the Illegal breach of the dam wall in quarry 3 ,needs to be monitored.
7.4) Possible re-use of all of the material from the former Whiston Eaves stable block currently languishing in the quarry  is unlikely according to Mr Maddox the supposed owner of the material but should be monitored. 

7.5) The red line boundary clause inhibiting the use of hub activities which was passed by SMDC in 2017 is being investigated as the grant of permission for SMD/2019/0716 is a potential legal breach under ultra vires rules and this appears to be delaying the decision notice which has not been issued. The Chief Executive of SMDC has yet to explain what is happening. 

7.6) Analysis of the reasons given in SMDC’s refusal notice for 0646: -The decision notice has been issued with sufficient reasons to defend an appeal should Laver go ahead. 
7.7) Laver Leisure’s possible response options to Phase 1 refusal: -Not known at present .

8) Moneystone Park Phase 2: -
8.1) SMD/2023/0532 – Full Application for Phase 2: A list of potential objections was issued to all members with the encouragement to write in against the proposal before 27th December . However more letters could emerge as late representations, going on previous case file experience.                                                                                                      8.2 ) JH urged the committee to have a public meeting to update the local population on the situation and as a way of promoting more objections.                                                It was decided that a meeting at Whiston village hall next month (February ) would be opportune and inquiries as to the arrangements will follow. Councillor James Aberley to be consulted. 

9) Whiston Applications with SMDC: -
9.1) SMD/2020/0007 WHGC New Detached Bungalow, Black Lane: - Awaiting Decision.
9.2) SMD/2023/0397 WHGC Outline for New Cottages: - Refused 19/10/23, monitoring until 18/04/24.

9.3) Enforcement Issues: - No action taken at the fishing lake / caravan site. JS will pursue via Kingsley Parish Council who have again requested action from SMDC . Meeting with Ben Heywood scheduled for the following morning 9th January.(see also 5.3 above ) 
9.4) Vandalism of local property adjoining WHGC: -Noted but no further details have emerged.

10) Whiston Applications with SCC: -
10.1) Whiston Hall Golf Course Reprofiling SCC/21/0033/FULL - Written Appeal - Still awaiting decision according to SCC’s case  officer David Bray.

11) Stoke-Leek Railway Feasibility -
JS suggested that substantial government funds might be available now that HS2 has been shelved. JW has written to SMDC. Reply awaited.

12) Delays in entering planning applications on SMDC website - JW to continue to monitor the situation and has written to Cllr Malyon regarding the issue.

13) Excess of phosphates and nitrates entering the River Churnet? : -
13.1) Further investigation of the quality of water immediately above and below Moneystone Quarry outfalls is planned for comparison. Pending.

14) Pollution issue at Cotton College                                                                                                                                                                                                                Report of potential pollution of watercourse near Cotton College by illicit dumping has been discussed again. A suggestion has been made for the use of a security camera to monitor the area: -Also pending .

15) Whiston Action Group committee members                                                                                                                                                                                              Need for more local people to be involved. Deficit continuing. 

15.1) Proposed public meeting to be arranged when the terms and conditions of the SMDC refusal notice and Laver's intentions are known- see 8.2 for proposal details so far. 

16) SMDC Climate Change Action update: - New SMDC sub-group meeting due soon . JS hoping  to be present as observer. 

17) Promotion of the Churnet Valley Footpath                                                                                                                                                                                                  Report to be entered onto CVCS website ongoing. 

18) Community Planning Alliance (CPA) -                                                                                                                                                                                                             Their website contains CPA news, manifesto and links to a number of HMG consultations that affect planning procedures. JW is monitoring for useful ideas.: - A new NPPF has been published. Follow the link for details.

19) Results of Solar/Wind Energy Members Opinion Survey: -                                                                                                                                                                          JW to circulated results of survey to members. CVCS will continue to monitor renewable energy applications in the valley and repeat the survey issue if necessary.

20) Any Other Business: -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cottage farm development at Froghall.  PC and JW to  investigate for more details via Cauldon Canal Trust. 

21) Date of next Joint CVCS/WAG Committee Meeting: - 29th February 

Dates of forthcoming SMDC PAC Meetings: - 25/01/24 – 29/02/24 – 21/03/24 – 25/04/24 – 23/05/24.



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Who Are We?

Churnet Valley Conservation Society dates back to the early 1980s and is a recognised stakeholder by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.  We are concerned with the whole of the Churnet Valley and wish to represent the interests of local inhabitants, human and wildlife. Join our growing membership so that our collective voice is even louder. Please help us in "keeping an eye on the valley" to protect it from undesirable development.

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Our Vision 

 The valley must be an excellent rural living environment which also attracts countryside visitors to enjoy the pleasures of the landscape and appreciate the fascination of its industrial heritage. We do not expect the valley to be frozen in time, it must evolve in line with modern living but at the same time preserve the tranquility of this unique area. Many projects and developments will be proposed on both a large and small scale, all of these must support our vision. We hope that future generations will look back at what is decided now and thank us for the care and effort involved in sustaining and evolving this part of North Staffordshire.