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Masterplan emerges

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 24, 2013

An artist’s impression of the Cornhill site.

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A DRAFT masterplan has outlined how the Churnet Valley, which runs from Tittesworth to Alton, could be regenerated in the next few years.

The masterplan is coming to the end of its consultation period and could be adopted as early as next year.

The plan will see major development focused on the Cornhill area of Leek, the Bolton Copperworks in Froghall, Moneystone Quarry near Whiston, Alton Towers and Consall Hall Gardens.

Councillor Sybil Ralphs, leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “The Churnet Valley Masterplan sets out how we intend to manage this important area based around sustainable tourism and the regeneration of key brownfield sites in a manner which is sensitive to, and enhances, the area’s heritage and natural environment.

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“There are, however, parts of the valley, such as the Bolton Copperworks site, which need significant improvement.

“We need to be able to tackle these issues to ensure that the Churnet Valley continues to be protected and enhanced, and that it continues to contribute to the local economy, by managing development in a positive way.

“We’re currently seeking views on the draft Masterplan and people have until Monday, November 11, to tell us what you think. We’ll be considering all points of view before adopting the masterplan.”

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

The Bolton site would also be a mixed development with small industrial units for employment and the retention of existing businesses on the site 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; a pub/restaurant; and craft tourist related retail facilities.

The 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, would see around 250 low impact holiday lodges built.

The development would consist of outdoor recreational 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 a 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.

However, the proposals were attacked by members of the Churnet Valley Conservation Society when they held their annual general meeting just over a week ago.

Chairman Karen Seaton told around 40 people who attended the AGM: “The masterplan will dictate planning applications for the area and set the boundary for development.

“The development must not be at the expense of the special qualities of the Staffordshire Moorlands, which draw so many people to the area.

“The issue we have in the valley is transport, but this will bring in more traffic on the narrow roads.

“New tourist and visitor accommodation should be developed on locations of connectivity.

“There is no relief road planned for Alton Towers, the lodges at Moneystone would swamp the nearby villages and the re-opening of the railway would impact on the greenways which are used for walking, cycling and horse riding.”

A member of the society, John Higgins, said: “The council wants its own way.

“All the accommodation is a Alton Towers, Boltons and Moneystone, along with a hotel in Cheadle.

This is not balanced development “Cornhill is greenfield yet they want a huge marina leisure development and around 100 dwellings.

“This would suck the lifeblood out of the lovely market town of Leek.

“We are not against development, but we want to stop inappropriate development.

“It has taken us five years to get the district council to support us in our fight to get the valley designed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB).”

All comments on the draft masterplan must be made to the regeneration manager at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Moorlands Houses, Stockwell Street, Leek. ST13 6HQ.

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