Category Archives: development

NEWS: councillors needed / Blythe Vale Estate? no comment!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late August 2021
In this post we have news of…: extension for councillor applications / lack of response to Blythe Vale proposals

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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More time to apply to be on the council

As you may know, the village council of Draycott is currently looking for three new councillors, after vacancies came about earlier this year.
The deadline to apply had been September 6th, but the good news that it’s just been extended to September 13th. So, if you’re only just back from the beach, relax, you still have time to get your thoughts together…

Got something to say? Nominate yourself!

Being a village councillor is extremely easy. The qualifications required are very basic (like being over eighteen); and there are no particular duties once you’ve been selected. If you’re thinking that nothing could be that easy(!), click on the Download button (opens as a WORD doc) to get some more details.

But, yes, it really is what you make it. In fact, the only big thing is that you need to care a lot about Draycott, or Cresswell or Totmonslow (the council’s local area) or, preferably, all three!

To apply for the role, all you have to do is write a letter to Draycott Council (at 3 The Island, ST10 4JE) with your name and address and saying why you’d make a good councillor for our little district. And make sure it will arrive by September 13th!

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Blythe Vale Phase 2 rolls on

Goodness knows we need new councillors! The present crop are failing us miserably.

As you’ll know, the latest big housing development proposed for this area, Blythe Vale 2, which will add a further 200+ homes to the 100+ already being built on Blythe Vale 1 (also known as Blythe Fields), is poised for approval.

The Blythe Vale 1 (Blythe Fields) estate is in blue, the proposed Blythe Vale 2 estate is in red

The basic plans were published a few months ago – and the developers (St Modwen) are now calling for a decision on them. It’s likely that a conclusive, big meeting will be held at Leek sometime in October or November, at a sitting of the regional Planning Committee.
So – seeing as this is a hugely significant moment – what have our village councillors – both at parish and district level – been doing about it? Er. Mmm. …nothing!

We are told that St Modwen organised a private get-together with our councillors as long ago as April – but there has been no report, or even a quick summary of what was said, and no public statement issued by our councillors. We wonder why.
Even a few weeks ago, a public meeting took place on the matter at Draycott Church Hall, at which representatives from St Modwen took questions – but only two of our councillors showed up.

After that less than impressive showing, you’d think that the least that our councillors could do would be to put in some formal responses to the proposals, even if they were just short ones. But…
If you go to the Blythe Vale 2 Plans Application Page and take a look, you’ll see that a number of local residents have in fact submitted comments – and well done to them. But our councillors’ thoughts are not there – they didn’t bother to write anything. The deadline for comments was the 24th August.

So, despite having three months to think about it, and even though it is an issue which will affect this community for decades to come, our village council failed to address this matter or to engage with the local electors – which is depressing.
Fortunately for our councillors, the Planning Committee has just announced today that it will extend the consultation comments period – so let’s hope we now see definitely see something from them.
St Modwen must be clapping their hands with joy to think how slow our current council has been.
We really deserve better. Roll on the new councillors.

***
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Second estate for Draycott

It now looks likely that work in Draycott on a second large housing estate – Blythe Vale (or ‘Blythe Fields 2’ if you like) – will start next year. St Modwen, the developers building the two estates, say the new site will hold around 200 homes, making it almost twice as big as their current site.
When the two combined sites are finished, the population of main Draycott will jump by a huge fifty per cent… and when added to the forthcoming planned estate in Cresswell means that 600 new homes are about to appear in our small district.

The patch of blue is the Blythe Fields estate, currently being built. The patch of red is the proposed new Blythe Vale estate. There is no entry-exit from the red area except through the blue area

There is still a process to go through of course. This is the schedule:
1 – Community consultation by St Modwen (this took place in the first fortnight of May)
2 – a Statement of Community Engagement will be issued by St Modwen (a summation of the consultation comments & responses)
3 – St Modwen submits a planning application (to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council)
4 – Staffs Moorlands asks for comments
5 – Staffs Moorlands Council Planning Committee considers the application
6 – if approved, work starts on the new estate in 2022

Can it be stopped? Tough.
Any community opposition faces massive obstacles – basic permission for development on this site was granted decades ago; developers are being backed by the government to build as much as they can; Staffs Moorlands has such a slack housing plan that it is regularly approving huge developments like this; and our local Draycott Village Council has barely made a squeak of protest to such large plans over the last ten years, making it virtually complicit.
(There is likely also even more development to come after this, as forthcoming phases, which will stretch construction right along to Cresswell, are already earmarked).

Green credentials

St Modwen, as befits a huge company, have done a very professional job in its presentations so far, and what they are really stressing is how ‘green’ and people-friendly their latest proposal is.

The proposed new estate – the green circles are trees. The bottom right corner is where the playground and orchard will go. The grey line at the bottom is the A50, but there is no access to it

As you can see from the diagram (above), there will be trees everywhere, with even a plantation-orchard in the bottom south-east corner. St Modwen claim that there will be “maximised biodiversity on the site”.
Although there is no shop or community centre, there are open spaces galore, jogging routes, and even a children’s play area (these spaces are ‘public’, so anyone from the wider Draycott community can use them as well).
A new, extensive drainage system underlines the estate’s ‘sustainability’.

“Nothing can be done”

A few of us have been doing our best to try to ensure that the community’s voice is heard concerning these proposals despite of the weight of the powers before us. Which is why it was very disappointing to hear Draycott Council’s view, expressed during its meeting on May 4th. The councillors simply reiterated the same old comment: “there’s nothing we can do”. No ideas, no insights, no leadership, no action plan – just the same empty words that we hear too much from politicians. They looked completely out of their depth. (Slightly oddly, the longest speech was about events in the village thirty years ago…).

It’s true that, because the council and the community have failed to act in the past, the development itself is probably a done-deal, but – of course some action can be taken. It is just nonsense to say that nothing can be done…

If the councillors, working with the community, could show some energy and drive, they could at least make a bid for community partnerships in the way that the new spaces are run. Traffic management is also an issue – all 350 homes will be using the same exit-entry point onto Uttoxeter Rd. Also, ensuring sufficient low-income housing is in the mix is another urgent area of attention.
Those who like to despair will say such that any attempts will yield nothing – but… we shouldn’t just roll over & die … should we?

*Footnote
By an odd alignment of council boundaries, most (not all) of the new development will fall into Forsbrook Council’s planning area. However, as the ‘protector’ of Draycott at large, Draycott Council’s views must be given full weight by the planning authority and the developer.

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NEWS: flood-zones / new estate / rail-path news / fines for dog-mess

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-April 2021
In this post we have news of…: Draycott flood zones / old railway path plans / £100 fines for dog-mess / Totmonslow homes nearly sold out.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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High water Draycott

It has come as quite a shock to learn that two road locations in the middle of Draycott have recently become classed – officially – as flood zones.
The government map (see below) now lists the spots (in dark blue): one on Uttoxeter Road off Fords Field and one outside The Old Rectory in Cheadle Road.
People have been jokingly talking about the Uttoxeter Road flooding issue as ‘Draycott Lake’ for some time now, but we all thought it was temporary or freak stuff. Well, it appears not.

In a talk to our village council last month, Paula Lees, Staffordshire’s Community Highways Engagement Officer, said that Highways are even considering putting up flood warning signs in these areas.

Apparently, these flooding incidents are not simply down to the fact that gullies are not being cleared properly. While that has contributed to the problems (and it’s possible that there may also be blockages stuck in the system, causing damming effects in heavy rain), Ms Lees said that some of the problems are man-made – and the community has to sort those out for itself.

So, it’s fairly clear (to us) what must happen: Draycott Council must form a steering group, with both councillors and expertise from the community on it, and sort the issues out.

Draycott Council has a truly dismal record of achievement over the last twelve months (see our article – Draycott Council’s 2020 – Councillors Should Resign), so maybe this is a chance for the councillors to get their collective finger out and actually do something significant.

Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Flooding in Cheadle Road Draycott in 2019

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Activity plan for (some of) the railway path

It is interesting to see that Staffordshire Moorlands Council have included our old-railway path in their new Green Infrastructure Plan. (The old railway line ran from Cresswell to Totmonslow to Cheadle but finally closed in the 1970s, and is now a ‘greenway’ path.)

The old-railway path follows the middle bottom black line

As you can see from the map (above), the council is drawing up plans to develop bridleways, walking and even play areas along the northern part of the old line. But… this implies it only appears to have definite plans for the Cheadle to Huntley/Draycott-Cross stretch, and nothing for the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch.

However, it is fair to say that the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch does have outstanding issues, including problems over access.
As the Friends Of The Cresswell-Cheadle Rail Path have been finding out, the long-term future of the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch of the path is, sadly, in doubt.

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New fines for careless dog owners

One of the most impressive changes in local public behaviour over the last ten years is the way that so many people now collect up their dogs’ mess on public pavements. Many local dog-owners now take out plastic bags with them routinely.

Many of us will remember the stencillings (see pic below) that local children painted on our pavements a decade ago – maybe it was these images that changed local people’s attitudes. It would be good to think so!

However, according to posts on the Draycott Facebook page, there are still some dog-owners who don’t clear up after their pets. (Dog faeces is not only unsightly and can be accidentally carried into the home on shoes, but can affect children if they touch traces of it and later rub their eyes).

Apparently, this is why Staffordshire Moorlands Council recently introduced a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ across the region – which could mean a £100 fixed-penalty for offenders who get caught. Even children in charge of a dog can be fined, though, legally, the debt would become the responsibility of the parent/carer.

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Sold out bungalows

Finally, if you were hoping to buy a house locally after lockdown, the bad news is that the five homes being built on the ‘Valley View’ plot at Totmonslow are virtually sold out – without a brick even being laid!

The site should be an interesting one when it is eventually finished. The homes are being constructed by Future Homes Developments, who describe themselves as “eco developers”, using new types of concrete.
We looked on their website for news of when the development should be finished, but unfortunately the website is badly out of date, so there was no information.

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NEWS: milestone / DCAT / houses for sale / outdoor spinning

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid-March 2021
In this post we have news of…: listed milestone repaired / new local action group / outdoor gym! / speciality houses for sale.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Heritage monument repair

It’s not always realised, but a lot of those old cast-iron mileposts you see around the Moorlands are actually ‘listed’ monuments. The parish of Draycott-in-the-Moors has a dozen certified heritage structures, and the milepost opposite the entry to Breach Lane in Totomonslow is one of them.
Which is why it was a matter of concern to see it falling to one side.

Totmonslow milestone in 2020

This particular milepost has been in place for 200 years, so maybe it was not surprising that it was starting to totter. It is on the side of a bank too, so it’s possible the heavy rains of this last winter were making the ground under it very soft.

Totmonslow milepost 2021

A conscientious resident reported the issue to the clerk of the village council, who passed the matter on to the heritage department of the county council. You might not believe this – but the repairs were completed less than a month later! Now all is well again. So, for once, the system worked, and it worked very well.

(Just a little footnote: the parish has three milestones altogether, the others being on Cresswell Lane and on the Hilderstone road. Strangely, only the Totmonslow one is deemed to be of heritage importance. No one is sure why).

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New action group

Things have been very tough over the last twelve months, as we all know, but at least the year 2021 is a chance for new beginnings. Cross fingers.

Here in Draycott, spring has brought not just daffodils but the new DCAT (Draycott, Cresswell And Totmonslow) Community Action Group. A trio of active local people (who already manage the village Facebook group) – Lee Warburton, Louise Parks & Bev Reardon – have started the ball rolling.
The idea is to make a concentrated effort to gather the views & ideas of residents, and drive those ideas forward. The next step is formalise how this DCAT group will work. Watch this space!

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Get spinning

As we all know, the first step back to normality (we hope) comes soon, on March 29th, when some Covid rules will be relaxed (though only a few, admittedly).
One organisation that has thought this through is the Draycott Sports & Fitness Centre, where some activities are set to return.

One activity that they have announced is one that has never been tried before – outdoor spinning! Yes, the static bikes used for spinning will be hauled outside, and participants will do what they do out in the fresh air. That makes the whole thing Covid-permissible.
So, if all those hundreds of Peloton adverts on the TV have inspired you, but you don’t have a bike of your own, then here’s your chance to have a go!

First session is on 31st March – but do book early. Bikes are limited. /

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Got half-a-million to spare?

A couple of houses have come up for sale in the district, and both offer quite a lot of privacy (if you like that sort of thing).
The Old Cart Shed, as it’s called (see pic below), is one of the results of the renovations at old Totmonslow Farm, where the old barns were marked for demolition a couple of years ago. And (you guessed it), this new house is on the site of the old structures.
It’s a classy new-build with field-views, definitely not your standard red-brick. Trouble is: your pockets will need to be deep, as it is on the market for over £500,000.

At the other end of the district, at Blythe Vale, hidden away up Woodlands Lane, you’ll find a bungalow for £300,000. (For an extra £50,000, they’ll throw in a plot of empty land too). It’s next to one of the service entries to the new Blythe Fields Estate, so you could probably use the facilities on the estate (playgrounds etc) if you wanted to.


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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

NEWS: VJ bells / down a mine / ‘automatic’ planning / dance is back!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2020
In this post we have news of…: bells will ring for VJ Day / development in Draycott to speed up? / Cresswell dance studios open again / exploring Draycott Cross mine…

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Seventy-five sounds for VJ Day

The coronavirus situation has put paid too many public events this summer.
In Draycott, the July summer fayre and the Sausage & Cider Festival have been cancelled, and now, most of the official VJ Day Anniversary event marking the end of World War Two back in August 1945. St Margaret’s Church had plans for a peal of its ancient bells, a bagpipe salute, and even cream teas – but it won’t happen now.

But John Clarke, the organiser of the event, is a never-say-die sort of fellow, so he has come up with a solution. Though the whole bell-ringing team cannot be present, a lone bell-ringer can be – so John has volunteered to be that lone ringer, and he will ring one of the bells seventy-five times, as a solemn tribute.

John will ring one of the main tenor bells, both of which date back nearly 400 years.

Painted frame in St Margaret bell-chamber

A mighty heavy St Margaret’s Church bell, in its frame

The tenors are the heaviest bells in the set (of eight) – each weighing around an amazing hundred stone each – so John will be pretty tired by the time he’s finished!
We wish him the best.

The event takes place this Saturday (15th August) just after 11am.

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Down the mine

It seems like another bunch of ‘explorers’ have been able to access the old, now abandoned, Draycott Cross Mine. They have just posted a 30-min video of themselves, climbing down inside the entrance and walking along some of the passage-ways.
It’s not clear if they had permission. And, even if they had permission, it was an incredibly foolhardy thing to do; they don’t seem to have had proper breathing apparatus.

The colliery at the Draycott Cross location was spectacularly unsuccessful.  First dug in the 1860s, it’s quite likely that not an ounce of coal was ever drawn from it. The owners only seemed to maintain it because it was next to the southern end of the Draycott Cross Railway Tunnel (which was a short length of track cut through the hillside, carrying coal from New Haden Colliery to Cresswell – and thence to the main line to Stoke) – and the tunnel itself was closed and blocked off in 1933.

Railway Tunnel - Draycott End

Cheadle to Cresswell Railway tunnel – Draycott end

In fact, only two shafts were ever sunk at Draycott Cross; though one of those was developed as a borehole after the war and now forms part of a water pumping station.

One strange story told by older folks is that, when the Draycott collieries complex (including New Haden) were finally abandoned in 1942, a lot of old radios were dumped down the shafts. No-one who tells this story can explain why though.
We can tell you though that these recent ‘explorers’ found no radios where they went…

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More building to come

People in this district will have watched carefully the latest announcements about the major relaxation of the planning laws by this government.
As the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “On land designated for growth… new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically.”  What’s more, the prime minister has come up with £12 billion to spend on building houses over the next eight years.
Also householders will more easily be able to build extensions.

As we’ve pointed out more than once, developers already have their eyes on the possibilities of the high ridge above Draycott overlooking Uttoxeter Road. Well, these government proposals will make it much easier for them to be processed.

Naturally a lot of people are very worried that rogue developers will take the announcement as a green light for them, especially as local objections might now count for less and less. If it worries you, a national petition has now been established – click here for details.

The other patch of land which might now come back into play for development is the field between St Margaret’s Church and the sheltered housing complex. This ‘glebe-land’  was under discussion in 2013, but negotiations did not proceed. It will be interesting to see what effect the new pronouncements have.

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Quick Quick … back!

We’d like to be among those to congratulate the Quick Quick Slow Dance Studios on recently re-opening.

The Cresswell dance-hall had to close during lockdown and faced a struggle to survive during the months – but the two owners, Hannah & Duncan, responded really imaginatively, and kept the business going in various ways.
They put out a regular podcast full of dance music plus reading out requests from listeners, many of whom of course had been attending dances before lockdown.
They launched a fund-raising drive to keep the business alive – and clients responded wonderfully, more than doubling the target that had been set.
And, just as important, they kept in constant touch with their clients – and kept their spirits up – with a regular flow of news and fun on their social media outlets .
All in all, they did brilliantly.

QQS Studios

The QQS dance-floor in happier times

But…. how do you re-open a dance-hall? All that exercise (i.e. all that breathing-out) in an enclosed space is still prohibited.
In fact… at the moment QQS is really only open for private lessons (for ‘households’ or bubbles’), but also – believe it or not – if you’re really missing dancing, you can hire the whole dance-hall for a reasonable price, and then you and your ‘household/bubble’ can have your own private dance!
If you want to know more about lessons etc, phone Hannah on 07975 914 649.

Though it’s not clear when public dances will happen again in Cresswell, there is at last a date for public classes at QQS: these will re-commence next month.

Hopefully, the classes will bring a little more normality to our lives… it will certainly be very welcome.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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NEWS: turning worries / badger cull / housing plans / RIP Carole & Mary

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early July 2020
In this post we have news of…: concerns about the Blythe road turning / end to cull / more housing on the horizon / St Mary’s loss

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Junction issue

Now that traffic flow is picking up again with the easing of coronavirus lockdown, we return to the issue of the new road-layout on the turning into Blythe Bridge. Already there have been collisions there, and one councillor has expressed serious concerns.

Road map: A521 turning

Road map shows the sharp hairpin bend turning

For traffic coming into Draycott from the A50 roundabout, the turning into Blythe Bridge is quite a nasty left-hand hairpin bend – so, up until the end of last year, there used to be a slip road, to make the turning easier.
But the slip-road has now gone; a new pavement has been built on top of it. (This new pavement connects the new Blythe Fields estate to the junction).

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But, the new arrangement causes two problems.
First, large wagons have to move into the dual carriageway’s outside (right-hand) lane, then slow down considerably, and then take a large turning circle across the inside lane just to get into the turning.
Secondly, because the turning is so badly signposted on the dual carriageway, motorists unused to the area see the turning late, and have brake a lot as they approach the turning, just to make this sharp manoeuvre.

Councillor Barry Yates, of next-door Forsbrook Council, is so concerned about this that he’s asked for a formal site visit & report from the local county councillor.
We’ll keep you posted.

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Recovery means … more homes

Many of us will have heard in the news that one of the ways that the government wants to solve the homes crisis and also to get the economy on track is to spend ‘billions’ on enabling construction projects.
That sounds great at first, but Draycott people may want to just think a second about the implications.

(The government has also promised the “most radical reforms of the planning system for 60 years”. We all know what that means – huge developers will get even more of their own way – for example, SMDCouncil has been humiliated more than once already over the Blythe Fields development).

The implication of the announcement is that St Modwen Ltd will be able now to more easily hurry through the next phase of its development in Draycott, building even more homes along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road. As the planning officer said at the time: “Having built the access road (to build the first part of the site), it’s now much easier to work on building the second part.”

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites – Draycott on left

There is outline permission for building all along the ridge, on both sides of the A50, as far as Cresswell (see yellow zone in pic above). Watch this space.

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Badgers update

What with the coronavirus crisis, other news has got lost a bit.
One item was that the national badger cull has now been called off.  The experiment, of trapping and killing badgers (humanely) inside special zones, was to try to see how much badgers spread tuberculosis to cattle. Farmers were largely for it; animal conservationists against it.Badger (pic from Wikipedia)
The reason it matters to Draycott is that, although the details of the ‘killing zones’ were secret, some locations were leaked – and we know that one such zone was not far from here.

The project was called off just as female badgers were producing litters – which will please the conservationists, but not the farmers…

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May they rest in peace

Finally, we have lost two long-standing members of our community.
Mary Crowther, who was 97, and Carole Toft, 80, both died last month. Both worshipped at the small Catholic church of St Mary’s in Cresswell, where they will certainly be missed by the remaining congregation.
RIP.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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The Future is coming

The next ten years could bring big changes to Draycott, and could completely change the district from being a semi-rural district into a suburban ribbon.
Resident Mark Stewart has written this piece, warning that we just don’t seem to be waking up to these facts.
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Five years ago, I wrote on this website about the way we were all sleepwalking into a possible development explosion in Draycott-Cresswell. Three years ago, the late parish councillor Steve Jones added: “The biggest threat to Draycott is the Constellation Project development plan … around the A50 in Draycott-Cresswell”.
And, as far back as 2014, the VVSM group pleaded with the then village council to vigorously get behind an official ‘neighbourhood plan’, in order to pre-empt potential large development.

All these warnings were ignored at the time, by residents as well as the village council, and suddenly we are now faced with 350-to-500 new homes going up here in this village in the next two years, increasing Draycott’s population by a whopping 90%. And there is the distinct prospect of even more building to come following that.

And Draycottians are still sleepwalking.

More building to come

St Modwen Homes openly plan to carry on their current (Blythe Fields) development further, into ‘Phase 2 and Phase 3’, which will see them building almost as far as Cresswell, along the top of the ridge overlooking Draycott and the A50, with a mix of more housing and light industry.

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

The grey line running vertically through this photo is the A50. On the left side of it Phase 1, in red outline, Blythe Fields, has already started. The next two phases (in yellow outline) will see building stretch almost as far as Cresswell Pumping Station.

You’d think this would be alarming – but nobody, either councillors or residents, seems to be paying attention.

Thanks to this apathy, the planning authorities see Draycott as a pushover.
Staffordshire Moorlands Council (remember the shocking way they ignored official & expert advice in 2015 in order to pass the Cresswell Blythe Park estate development?) have already approved more development here, percentage-wise, than in any other of its wards or parishes. SMDC planners are already making provision for Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Who is standing up for us?

The ones who really should speak up for us, our political representatives, have been barely visible in these planning matters. Our MP, Bill Cash, who represents both Blythe Bridge & Draycott, has only sent letters (nothing more), while our own Draycott village council, which should care most of all, has been slow, feeble and muddle-headed, to say the least.

Blythe Fields outline diagram

The current Blythe Fields estate of 180 homes (up near the roundabout in this photo) only fills 10% of the land already approved for development (in red outline) in the district of Draycott

So, because of such apathy, the current SMDC Moorlands Local Plan has been able to allocate virtually the region’s whole quota of housing for semi-rural areas in … guess where? …Draycott-Cresswell… An amazing stat.

The apathy goes deep. A few months ago, in view of the seriousness of the situation, a local resident put in a proposal to the village council, that one of its members should be appointed to take special responsibility for The Future (including planning matters) as a way of bringing some urgency into meetings. But the idea was rejected out of hand.
(Even though, at the same meeting, a councillor was indeed given a special responsibility – to monitor village odd-job tasks!  You couldn’t make these things up…).

Another example: we all know about the current traffic chaos caused by the works – yet back in the summer it took a some local residents to make a great fuss before councillors even bothered to react to the Highway Department’s plans.

Compare our Draycott representatives’ apathy to councils in places like Cheddleton, where similar proposals have brought councillors and residents out on street demonstrations and where they have twice defeated the proposals; and in Tean, where the village council is threatening judicial review against ‘excessive’ development.

And some residents are losing patience with their village councils’ inaction.  Recently, in Creswell, a village near Stafford, every member of the parish council was forced to resign when householders simply lost patience with their representatives, and demanded they step down.

Housing

Yes, of course, this country, and this county, desperately needs new housing, but it’s not quite fair to place so much in one area, surely?
But it’s simply a lot easier for authorities to shove housing, even in large numbers, into areas where they know locals are not united.
Belatedly (and well after the Blythe Fields building started), a ‘Parishes Together’ group has been established, where village councillors from Draycott, Checkley and Blythe Bridge get together to talk about joint matters of interest. But this initiative looks to be far too late in the day to stop large development; and right now it is still just a talking-shop.

Boundaries

One excuse Draycott village council put up at the time for its lack of action over the Blythe Fields development is that most of the ongoing (i.e. Phase 1) building works fall into the boundaries of Blythe Bridge & Forsbrook council.

Blythe Fields on Forsbrook Draycott boundary

The St Modwen developments cross the Forsbrook-Draycott official boundaries

Through a strange lack of logic in the way parish council boundary lines were originally laid out years ago, land that should properly be in Draycott was allocated to Blythe Bridge. (Last year a resident called for Draycott Council to request a change of boundaries – this was again rejected).

But, when it comes to massive planning developments on their doorstep (ones like Blythe Park), all affected councils have a full right to get involved. If Draycott Council say “it’s not in our boundaries, we can do very little”, then they are very wrong.

And Forsbrook & Blythe Bridge’s council‘s view? It actually supports the Blythe Fields development. (Keith Flunder, a district councillor for Blythe Bridge, said at the time of the application: “People in general are in favour”.)
And why shouldn’t Blythe Bridge people support it? It means loads more council tax for them (as much as £5,000 a year or more), and they will get few of the social and environmental problems – which will nearly all accrue to Draycott.

Doesn’t it matter to most of us?

Of course, the fact is that most of Draycott’s population simply don’t worry about these issues.
Year in year out they vote for the self-same groups of people in elections (or don’t vote at all); while (to be fair to the councillors) participation from all but very few residents in any major new initiatives in the village is lacking.
So, we may lack leadership, but then we also lack community spirit. (The local community-action group, VVSM, after some amazing achievements, folded in 2017 – mostly because no new support was coming along.)

Maybe it’s simply that we believe that we can’t change things, even if we wanted to.
In fact, on the village Facebook page, this resident’s view seems to be the most accepted:  “…find some positives! The houses are not cheap so it should bring some extra cash. Extra cash means an extra boost to local economy, and a better local economy means we get better produce, products, services (here’s hoping) etc”.  Some residents even believe that those who don’t like the idea of huge expansion ‘should simply get out of Draycott‘.
Only a couple of small voices ever object to the lack of protest, such as this one: “…after destroying some beautiful countryside, on the new housing estate they have built so far what can only be described as the most bland red-brick buildings imaginable…

Hello to the Future

So…… As it stands, planning decisions indicate the following:
The last census (2011) put the population of Draycott at 1000 but, in ten years time, it could well be 3000 (including Blythe Fields expansions).

One can predict that the village’s traffic flows, pressure on schools and doctors’ surgeries, and social disruption will all grow.
On the other hand, we may get a shop, and more business for our pubs… Is that enough?

However – whether we are happy with this vision or not -, should we really all sleepwalking into it?

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Ref:  Original Blythe Fields planning application

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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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment.

NEWS: floods / houses for sale / voting / poppies

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early November 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including two fireworks displays …  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Fancy a garnet?

As we reported before, sales are already underway for the houses on the coming St Modwen housing estate, which is being built at the west end of Draycott.
The sales brochure too is now published with a street-map of how the estate is to be arranged and where each type of house is going. The cheapest housing will be sited alongside on the estate’s border with the A50 highway, with the more expensive on the Draycott Level side.

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The brochure also lists (nearly) all the types of houses that will be available on ‘Blythe Fields’. A ‘Garnet’ style house is the most expensive at £360,000.
Curiously, the only kind of housing that is not advertised for sale in the brochure is the low-income housing; nor does the brochure tell you how to apply for that housing.
Curious… Hmm.

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Torrents lead to floods

The torrential and unceasing rain a few days ago led, as you’d expect, to flash floods pretty much everywhere, including here. Zara Hutson, who co-runs the Draycott Arms, captured this amazing shot (below) when the flooding was at its height on Cheadle Road just outside her doors. Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Most of it was, fortunately, just flash flooding, and receded quickly once the rain ceased, but we still have well-known problem areas which have more long-lasting flooding.
The drains on certain stretches of Uttoxeter Road, right through Draycott to Tean, are simply no longer coping well, and water lies in dangerous pools on these busy roads after heavy rain.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you are on (– is the Staffs County Highways Department incompetent? …or… is the government starving local authorities of money, which is why repairs are so slow? -), the fact is we’ve been waiting years now for some of the drainage systems to be sorted.
Sadly, no one should hold their breath that it will all be fixed soon.

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Happy days … another election!

… yes, we are being sarcastic of course.
However, this one really is a biggie, there’s no doubt about that, and will (if we get a definite result) change this country for the next five years.
We are in the constituency of Stone.

So… if you are not registered to vote, get yourself sorted now. Already, across the country, thousands of people (mostly younger people) have been doing just that – and you still have time. The cut-off date to register (to vote in the election in December) is November 26th.
Click here to find out the process. It’s pretty simple.

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Poppies for remembrance

Some people on the village Facebook page were puzzled – but pleased – to see a lot of poppies attached to lampposts in the village, and wondered who had put them there.
It’s actually pretty straightforward – they were put up by order of the Draycott village council, and congratulations should go to the council’s clerk, Denise Wheat, for organising the distribution.
Cresswell Poppy display 2019The poppies are to mark Armistice Day of course, which falls on November 11th (Monday) – though the main ceremonies will be carried out on Remembrance Sunday (which is on Nov 10th this year) – see our events page for details of what’s happening.

Last year many village councils adopted this neighbourhood poppy display as a one-off initiative to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, but our council has decided to do it again this year.

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DIY for £300,000

Ever fancied buying a charming old property and completing doing it up? Now’s your chance if you have £300,000 or so.
That’s the asking price for Totmonslow Farm Cottage (see pic below), which is on the market at the moment and being sold by Kevin Ford Estate AgentsTotmonslow Farm Cottage
It’s smaller than it looks (2 bedrooms) and needs some renovation – but the Totmonslow rural area is still a great place to live.
We’re off to buy a lottery ticket…!

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to 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)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

NEWS: traffic flow / tea club? / ‘new’ graves / saintly connection

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a fireworks display …  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Settling down (?)

Well, ten days into the St Modwen Roadworks project, things are settling down, and, if they continue like this, matters may work out better for everyone than we had hoped for.
Only the one lane through the works is to be available at any one time, but, with patience, it might work.

What we’ve seen is that, as the ‘outgoing lane’ (i.e. the one on the way to the roundabout) is the open one at the moment, traffic is moving relatively smoothly.

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(It might not be so good though when Phase Two arrives in mid-December – which is when the open lane will be the eastbound one, ie for incoming traffic, not outgoing).

It seems like all the publicity that we as a community have generated (the local newspaper has had the roadworks as its lead story three weeks in a row!) has made a huge difference. Motorists are clearly avoiding Draycott Level, and so the general flow of traffic is lighter at the moment, which is a big help.
People we know are also getting up earlier to go to work, and using diversions, which is all sensible.

However, St Modwen/Staffordshire Highways say the open lane could be “closed at any time” if circumstances require it.  It is a bit of a shame that they can’t promise to give full notice about which lane (incoming or outgoing) is going to be free at any one time – and we would urge them to think how they can do that better.

In general though, if everyone crosses fingers for the next four months, we might be okay.
Might...

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Tearoom group

The new HideOut Tearooms in Forsbrook, which are attached to the Roebuck pub, are now up and running, and the owners have come up with a really nice opening offer: if there is a community group that wants to put on tea&sandwiches sessions for elderly residents, the tearooms will supply the food gratis.

There are already ‘friendship groups’ in Blythe, organised through HomeLink or at the village hall, but this would be the first in Forsbrook (we believe) if it comes off.

No such venture exists in Draycott/Cresswell – even though we have some suitable venues, including the church hall and the new refurbished snug at the Arms, and even the under-used ‘community hub’ at the Cresswell cricket ground.

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Churchyard revelations

Some cutting-back has recently taken place in the ‘old churchyard’ at St Margaret’s – and graves that have not been seen for years have been revealed.

Whoever did it (probably pruning experts from the diocesan authorities, but no one seems sure) has cut a man-sized hole through the foliage of the giant yew-tree in the churchyard’s south-west corner. (The yew is reputed to be around one thousand years old!).
This hole enables a person to get right inside the branches & foliage towards the main trunk; and see the graves there that had been grown over.

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Almost nineteen old graves have been newly revealed.
Inevitably, there is a Bagnall there, as Bagnall has been such a common name down the years in this district, but there is also a Weston. Family historians will be pleased to see them.
They have been covered over so long that it’s not clear if they are on the official graves-list, which was drawn up in the 1980s.
It all adds to the account of Draycott’s history, and it’s good to be able to see these stones again.

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Cresswell and Saint Henry Newman

Talking of local churches, not many people will know that Cresswell St Mary’s has a slight relevance to the news that Britain has a new saint.
Last Sunday, the Pope said that, after a deal of research, it was now believed that the nineteenth century English cardinal, Henry Newman, was holy enough during his life to now be declared a saint.

Dominic BarberiIt’s interesting though that the priest who converted Newman to Catholicism was a Father Dominic Barberi (pic right), who lived in Cresswell for a while during 1844.
The former priest at Cresswell, David Hartley (who has since moved on) wrote an account of Barberi’s achievements for this village website. If you want to know more of that story, click here.

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to 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)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Roadworks decision

Finally common sense has prevailed on the current Draycott A521 Roadworks Project being conducted by St Modwen Homes.

At the very last minute, St Modwen has “found a way” to compromise, and we now have a partial solution to the roadworks issue. It will not totally satisfy all, but it is a halfway-house.

There won’t be a contraflow, which the community would have liked best, but the time-frame (nineteen weeks) also means that St Modwen can still just-about open its housing estate there on time.

Intervention

On the original plan, there was to be no way to the A50 roundabout in or out of Draycott.
It took a last-minute intervention by Philip Atkins, the leader of Staffordshire County Council, to make the difference. It looks like he banged a few heads together, and we now have the compromise.

So… at “most times” there will be one lane open through the roadworks, either going out of Draycott, or coming in. But no contraflow.
Instead of ten weeks for the project time-frame, as St Modwen hoped for, it will be extended by a further two months, so – in theory – it should be all done and dusted by the end of February.

A dedicated webpage has been created to keep us immediately up to date (in theory) with any changes on the works site, and alerting us as to which direction the ‘free’ lane will be using in each week.

Yes, this compromise will not suit everyone, and we too think that there were more intelligent solutions, but… at least we got some result.

People power

For once, we can see that social media has been a power for good.
Although the roadworks plan was announced in late July, our respective village councils were slow to react, and even sat on their hands.

So it was left to the people. It took a strong popular response, especially from village websites like this one and from the two community Facebook groups (Draycott and Blythe Bridge), to get the debate up and running.
This strong response forced Staffordshire Highways/St Modwen to back off, and they postponed the original start-date (which had been Sept 7th). As we know, it was then postponed a few more times, until this final start-date of October 8th.

However, we also have to thank the two county councillors – Mark Deaville (for the Draycott end) and Keith Flunder (for the Blythe Bridge end) who, alerted to the strength of local concerns, now both waded in to the conflict.
We suspect it was pressure from these two that brought Philip Atkins into the issue – and he had the power to force a re-think from St Modwen…

(St Modwen’s engineers had said it was impossible to keep a lane free because the included drainage works under the road would mean the whole width of the road would be being used all the time.
Now they have come up with a solution.
Curious, that…).

Let’s hope that, even though it’s a compromise, it all works out…

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – just a bit further down this page.
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