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Churnet Valley masterplan set to get green light

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

  • An artist's impression of how the visitors centre at the Bolton site at Froghall could look

  • A artist impression of the proposed lodges at the former Moneystone Quarry near Whiston

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AFTER years of consultation and hundreds of comments from the public the final document of the Churnet Valley Masterplan has been recommended for approval.

The plan will see major development focused on the Cornhill area of Leek, the Bolton Copper works in Froghall, Moneystone Quarry near Whiston, Alton Towers and Consall Hall Gardens, while several other areas would see smaller improvement schemes.

However, at a meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's service delivery overview and scrutiny panel it was noted that Staffordshire County Council, as owner of the Consall Nature Park, had objected to the identification of the site becoming a hub due its sensitive location and limited parking.

But a request had been received from the RSPB, which owns and runs Coombes Valley Nature Reserve near Bradnop, for the site to be identified as a hub with enhanced visitor facilities being made.

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Councillors agreed with officers that Consall Nature Park should be removed from the plan and the Coombes Nature Reserve be added as a hub facility.

Councillor Linda Malyon said: "This is one of the most important documents produced. I would like a rail stop introduced at Blackbrook and also that it is noted in the masterplan that support has been given to have the area adopted as An Area of Outstanding Beauty by Natural England.

"There is reference to a pub and 50 bed hotel in Froghall.

However, there is already a pub which is now up for let. If we can't cope with one pub do we need another?

"The historic chimney at the Bolton copperworks, which is the only of its kind left in the country, should be protected.

"There are also concerns about some of the narrow roads which have already highlighted congestion problems. Will development lead to more congestion?

"Communities could be at the hard edge of major development."

Councillor Chris Wood said: "The coal authority has stated there are around 600 mine entries in the area. What plans are in place for these workings and who is responsible for these and the contamination on some sites. Is it the land owner or developer?"

In reply planning officer Gavin Clarke said that the council had plans from the coal authority, but is was the developer's responsibility to investigate the issues.

Councillor Stephen Ellis said the masterplan was a fundamental document which had been going on for about five years. He said: "We have a Jewel in the Crown at Alton Towers gardens. Many people visit the park for just the rides and I feel the gardens are an asset not being fully used."

The Cornhill area, which sits between the Barnfields Industrial Estate and the Britannia building in Cheadle Road, Leek, will see a mixed use of regeneration including employment, offices and light industrial; tourism accommodation and tourist retail; leisure including the railway and canal along with residential.

The Bolton site would also be a mixed development with small industrial units for employment and the retention of the existing businesses.

Fifty high quality homes are also planned along with the provision of the railway and a canal heritage centre and workshop.

Also planned is a visitor/heritage/educational centre; a small hotel; pub/restaurant and craft tourist related retail use. A provision of an outdoor activity centre and extended parking space to serve the railway would complete the development.

Moneystone Quarry, which is owned by Lavers, could see low impact holiday lodges built.

The development would consist of outdoor recreation facilities, including walking, cycling, horse riding and climbing.

A recreational lake to include non-motorised water based activities would also be developed.

The masterplan also states that sensitive expansion of the Alton Towers Resort would include additional accommodation in the form of lodge/campsite development and a new hotel to increase overnight stays.

New entertainment areas along with enhanced landscaping and new rides are also listed.

Consall Hall Gardens would see a limited development of around 15 holiday lodges constructed within the gardens.

The masterplan will now going forward to a council assembly where it will be adopted as a supplementary planning document for the area.

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