Tag Archives: Northern Gateway

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.

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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

Want to comment?
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: big planning / community-hub opens / dangerous rail area / Totmonslow self-build?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: how Draycott is part of a national strategy / unfenced railway line / chance to build your own home / new community-hub opens on cricket ground /…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Cresswell Cloggerfest Music-Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Draycott on the national planning agenda

The application to build over 100 homes at the east end of Draycott (by the A50 roundabout) seems to have caught everyone by surprise.
(It’s always a clever move by a developer to make a controversial application during the summer months as everyone’s attention is elsewhere – usually on a beach!)
Certainly our local newspapers and our local politicians seem to have made virtually no comment at all, which is both a shock and a shame, as this is a very big deal indeed.

What few of us realised is that this site, the huge so-called ‘Northern Gateway’ or ‘Blythe Vale’ site in the centre of Draycott is actually not just a local venture, but is part of a regional & national planning framework, linking major industrial centres like Stoke and Derby to the major networks.
The local community action group VVSM have been doing the research and came across a really interesting document proving this.

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It means that – once the economy picks up – this district is in line for a lot more industry and a lot more housing, and, as it’s part of a national strategy, we may not be able to do a lot about it. You have been warned…!

Anyway, at the moment, only the application for the 100+ homes is on the table. If you feel strongly about this development, you only have until 27th September to comment on the proposals. See the Blythe Vale Homes planning application by clicking here.

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Pavilion success

Happier news comes out of our local cricket club. The new pavilion/community-hub, on the Cresswell ground, is finished at last, and looks really splendid. The old pavilion had its charm, yes, but this smart new structure is the bee’s knees!
It cost over £500,000 (with help from the Lottery Fund) but it looks like it is well worth it.

An open invitation is now going out to everyone connected with the parish to come and take a look at it on Sunday 10 September (between 11am and 4pm). If you fancy going, please email the club, by this Friday, to say you’d like to be there, as it’s a matter of trying to judge numbers.

The pavilion/community-hub could turn into a major asset for the district as, apart from being a base for the cricket club, it is open for hire to local organisations – already a weekly yoga class has started up there. So, if you too run a class or such, you might want to check it out too.

If you can’t make it on the 10th, why not stroll along to see the first team’s last game of the season, on the 9th. With a bit of luck (and sunshine), the day will – hopefully – see the team crowned champions of League One… what a party that will be!!

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Open railway

For some time now, some of us have been wondering what Network Rail is up to by the Cresswell rail-crossing. A hundred yards along the main-line (in the Uttoxeter direction), the fencing that should be alongside the tracks, to stop both trespass and thoughtless kids from wandering onto the line, is simply… not there. It is completely wide-open.

An unmade road, which leads to a small group of six terraced homes (‘Railway Cottages’ by name) passes right by the unprotected area. The owners there form a small community (they get together to look after the unmade road and repair it, for instance) and have applied to Network Rail to fulfil its responsibilities, but, so far, no joy.

tidying the road to Railway Cottages

Repairing the road to Railway Cottages

If you also find this worrying, why not add your voice to the community’s, and write to Network Rail?
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Build your own home

It’s not often a chance comes up to build your own home, especially in beautiful open countryside… but this is what is on the cards right here in our parish – in Totmonslow.

Totmonslow Farm, which is no longer a full working concern, is the site of two potential conversions. A little way over from the historic old farmhouse itself, you’ll see some former farm buildings, which have not been in use for some years … though they do have charm of their own.
They are now up for sale, with planning permission: going to public auction on the 20th September.

Both sets of buildings also give a deal of space – click to see the details of The Barns, and of The Old Cart Shed.
It could be a dream come true for somebody…

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

Local Plan proposals – some thoughts

Had a chance to look at the Moorlands Local Plan (Preferred Options) document yet? If you have, good for you – at nearly 300 pages long, it can make your head spin after a while! Moorlands Local Plan symbol

Once it is set in stone, the Local Plan will earmark areas across the region for employment parks, housing estates, open-space, travellers’ sites etc. It will be valid until 2031.
What this is here now is a consultative document, so you can make comments on it (and hopefully, get listened to) – but you have only until Sept 22nd to do so.

And if you’re wondering why you might have a feeling of déjà-vu, well that is because this document was first issued last year – but then scrapped – and is now a revised version…
So, if you did make comments back then on the 2016 version, hard luck, because all those comments have been scrapped too – and everyone has to do any feedback all over again.

Overall

So – how is this draft different to the previous versions?
Well, the headline is that council planners have now decided that ‘smaller villages’ and ‘rural areas’ should hardly take any housing developments after all. Virtually all big new housing allocations in our region will be confined to the ‘towns’ such as Cheadle and ‘larger villages’ such as Blythe Bridge and Upper Tean.
That’s just the main headline of course; there is a lot more for us in Draycott to think about than just that.
But one has to really delve into all the details across the 300 pages to find it! It’s hard work, but already the local Draycott & Cresswell community action group, VVSM, is on the case, and is examining the document with a fine tooth-comb; and it says it will publish their comments shortly.

One thing is for sure: according to this draft, Draycott will probably have to accept a small estate of around half a dozen homes being built in its centre sometime in the next decade.
However, there is no longer a mention of the possibility of a travellers-site coming to Cresswell or Blythe Bridge.

Blythe Vale and more

Draycott is classed as a ‘smaller village’ – so how come a planning application for a housing estate of 118 homes at its eastern end, which has just been submitted, is acceptable?
Well, for one thing, strange as it may seem, it’s actually inside the Blythe Bridge boundary – thus making it officially a ‘larger village’ allocation.
Secondly, we on this website have been warning for some time that the proposed giant Northern Gateway site (which covers virtually all the fields south of Uttoxeter Road between the main Blythe Bridge roundabout and Cresswell) was a planning problem looming on the horizon.
In fact the ‘Northern Gateway’ has had outline permission for some years now, even though nothing was actually happening.
Until now.
The new preferred option from the planners (see pg 155 of the Local Plan document) is that this giant Northern Gateway site be reclassified from B1 (business & industry) to ‘mixed-use’. So, the proposed Blythe Vale housing estate site – a small part of this Northern Gateway site towards its northern end – is now seen as ripe for development for … houses. So, there you go.

Draycott site allocations employment

The dark green blob (on both sides of the A50 road), is the Northern Gateway site formerly earmarked for industry employment (and now for mixed-use). The Blythe Vale housing will take up the northern quarter between the blue line (the A50) and the orange line (the Dracott dual carriageway).  The light green space is Draycott Moor College

The weirder thing is, at the other end of Draycott, the new Blythe Park housing-estate development at Cresswell.
If this draft Local Plan were already in place, Cresswell would be left free of development as it is classified as ‘other rural area’. However, permission for the Blythe Park development was squeezed through when Cresswell was vulnerable, i.e. before this Local Plan could ever be enacted. (It was still a surprise decision though, as SMDC, by giving permission for it, went against their own Core Strategy!)
In other words, Draycott and Cresswell have few friends at the moment at SMDC Council…

Our prediction? With fifteen years, development will stretch from Cresswell through Draycott to Blythe Bridge, all in one long ribbon.

Confused?

Like we’ve said, VVSM will soon publish their very detailed views, so that might help us more to be less confused.
It’s not clear yet what responses local parish councils are collating.

If you do want direct answers to questions (good luck!) you can also quiz officers and councillors at the various Local Plan drop-in sessions. The nearest to us is at Blythe Bridge Village Hall on Wednesday 30 August, 5-8pm.

Finally, don’t be backward in coming forward if you spot anything interesting in this Local Plan document – let us all know! Just use the comments box  further down this page, or send us an email.

Resident Roger Holdcroft, who is also chair of the Draycott Council, did just that; and he says when we are looking through the document, the following pages will be of interest to local people:
Page 46 – Smaller villages: “Development on a large scale would be unsustainable, as it will generate a disproportionate number of additional journeys, undermining the spatial strategy”
Page 51 – Net Housing 2017-2031 – includes upcoming Blythe Park development at Cresswell
Page 54 – Neighbourhood Plan Areas. Draycott housing allocation
Page 67-68 – Draycott is a ‘smaller village’, Cresswell not mentioned.
Page 67-70 – Smaller villages area strategy Policy SS9
Page 78 – Greenbelt in Draycott
Page 209 – Blythe Vale development
Page 229 – Draycott Map
Page 249 – Blythe Business park development Map
Page 155-157 – Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway

That should make some good bedtime reading!

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Want 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, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)