It was the outcome that nobody expected.
Despite over 170 letters of objection from local people, a stiff letter of opposition from local MP Bill Cash, and a formal objection from Draycott Parish Council – not to mention a ‘recommendation to refuse’ from the planning experts at SMDC -, the councillors on the Staffs Moorlands District Council Planning Committee today decided to support a plan to double the siz of the Blythe industrial park and build 170 new homes in Cresswell.
It was a shock result.
In the committee room’s public gallery were just under a dozen protesters, organised by Draycott’s local community action group VVSM.
(However, despite the importance of the day, only one Draycott Parish councillor, Pauline Clarke, had turned up to this meeting; there are seven Draycott Parish councillors. See local PCouncil votes on application).
Three of the VVSM group – Jacquie Leach, Shelagh Wood and Nick Holdcroft – stood up to speak in the public participation slot, and they all urged the councillors on the committee to understand the strength of local opposition, as well as the views of the expert planners – and thus to turn down the application. They were followed by our local district councillor, – Colin Pearce, who also expressed his total unhappiness concerning the plans.
Against them, In support of the plans, spoke representatives from the applicant MJ Barrett, and a spokesman from The Greenhouse People, a firm that is located on the Blythe Industrial Park, who said that the units on the park were stuffed to bursting and needed more space.
The councillors on the committee seemed to split along party lines. Linda Malyon of the Moorlands Democratic Alliance Party and Mahfooz Ahmad of the Labour Party seemed angry that other members of the committee were going to go against local opinion.
But those councillors in favour of the application – especially Councillors Jim Davies and Michael Worthington – pointed out that the Moorlands area was under pressure to build more houses – and these in Cresswell fitted the bill.
Afterwards, Jacquie Leach, who lives in the centre of Cresswell, said she was stunned: “I am so upset… I’m upset for all the VVSM supporters who worked so hard … and I’m upset for the ordinary people of Cresswell who thought they could trust councillors. We know the local MP supported us strongly – Bill even came to our meeting … This application just seems so unreasonable to nearly everybody! When you think that even the council’s own planning officers recommended refusal, it’s just so hard to see what those councillors could have been thinking… I’m bewildered!”
The final vote was seven councillors for the application and four against.
It seems unclear. Can this planning committee vote be overturned by the full membership of the Staffs Moorlands Council? Or not?
And beyond that…? Possibly an appeal … but by whom? And appeals can cost a deal of money.
Would you like to comment on any of the items on this page? … Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address. You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).