Tag Archives: St Modwen Homes

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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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: election / lane re-surface / Colours 150th / squash

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid December 2019
In this post we have news of…: the election candidates / Church Lane – repaired! / Blythe Colours 150th anniversary / Draycott to be squash centre (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a community carols service …  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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Candidates’ lack of interest

Everybody keeps rushing around saying this is one of the most exciting elections ever… but not, it seems, in our constituency (‘Stone, Cheadle & Madeley’). It is so dull round here, that the BBC’s news-page for our constituency lists… no updates at all!

As for the candidates, well, sigh. Most of them can’t even be bothered to write up their official webpages.
The Conservative candidate hasn’t bothered to write up his official webpage at all (!) ;
The Green candidate has at least listed his name on his… but nothing else  ;
The Labour candidate  has put up a thumbnail biog, but no manifesto (and it’s one month out of date anyway) ;
So well done to the only candidate who bothered to put up a manifesto on his official webpage – the Liberal Democrat.

Thus … what do we really know? We know the oldest candidate is the Conservative, at 79, and the youngest is the Lib Dem; the Lib Dem and the Green actually live in the constituency; and that the Conservative is the sitting MP, while the rest are all local councillors.

person dropping paper on box

So, thank goodness for the local press! Without them, we’d know very little indeed. Check out the constituency hyper-local news website for profile-statements by all the candidates.
And the only time candidates seemed prepared to answer the tough questions ‘live’ was in a video-stream recorded on December 3rd, which is still available to view online. (The candidates did have to deal with one very tricky question, about the local badger-TB cull, which is worth checking out).
Actually, this video is also worth watching if you are still undecided who (or what) to vote for, as it’s probably the only time in this election you’ll get to see all four candidates in action.

All in all, you’d have hoped our candidates would have put on a better show if they wanted our votes. Bit depressing.

However, yes, we know, it’s a citizen’s duty to vote…
Voting actually takes place this week – on Thursday (12th) between 7am and 10pm at Draycott Church Hall.

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St Modwen do a Saint Nick

It’s not often a major developer plays Santa Claus, but that is exactly what is happening in Draycott.
St Modwen Homes, which is building the Blythe Vale estate at the eastern end of the village, have decided to send their chaps along to have them repair the road leading up to St Margaret’s Church. And it needs repair a good deal; in fact Church Lane is so full of potholes that it resembles the surface of the moon, and some undertakers have, more than once, threatened not even to take hearses up it!

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors – before….

And how come this Christmassy warm gesture???
Well, we owe a lot of it to our county councillor, Mark Deavillmark deavillee, (see pic right) who, in his own words “made a “cheeky request… but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”
As we all know, contractors working for St Modwen are currently re-shaping the stretch of our carriageway leading on to the A50 – so Mark just asked if some of them could be freed up to come along and fix Church Lane. He was backed up in his efforts by some timely letters from Joyce Moore of the Church Hall Committee … and St Modwen agreed!
So.. the lane has now been resurfaced from the bottom of the bank almost to the church car park – a distance of around one hundred yards.

Incidentally, this is not a piece of the local community-compensation works (aka the ‘S106 Agreement’)  that developers are obliged to do. It appears to be a freebie.

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Merry Xmas St Modwen! And merry Xmas, Joyce and Mark….
Good job!

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More squash

An interesting line came out of a recent meeting by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in which councillors were examining how best to ‘reorganise’ leisure services across the area.
You won’t be surprised to learn that it involve cuts – and the Leisure Centre in Cheadle looks like it could be closed, including its swimming pool.

There might well also be cuts in the range of squash courts.

draycott sports centre sign

Draycott Sports Centre

However, the (very slim) silver lining is that this means some investment may well come to Draycott Sports Centre. The centre already provides squash courts, but soon it may be the only venue for squash in the Moorlands … so the centre may get cash from SMDC for expansion.
Watch this space.

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A colourful date

Finally, a date for your diary: Monday 6th January between 6pm and 7pm.
This is the date for an open meeting, to take place at Blythe Library, for anyone who wants to help create or take part in the Blythe Colours Cresswell Factory 150th Anniversary Celebrations.

The old colour-making works, which used to be on Blythe Park, closed down a few decades ago of course, but in its time provided employment for thousands of Draycott & Cresswell folk.

Ivan Wozniak and Jill Crowther, who co-ordinate the group, believe a big exhibition should be one of the events to be held next summer. Ivan told us: “Good news! I am pleased to report that the local chemicals firm Johnson Matthey have agreed to support our proposed 150 years celebration of Blythe Colours with a £500 donation!
He went on to say “…. but we will need all the help we can get, no matter how small. If you want to find out more about what we want to do, please come along to our ideas meeting next month.
All are welcome, and you don’t have to have worked at the factory to attend. All input, from anyone, welcome!

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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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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.

***
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…

***
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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NEWS: buses / roads-meeting / planters! / cricket drop

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early October 2019
In this post we have news of…: buses – but not for us / roadworks press on regardless / one man’s flower campaign / cricket gloom
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Draycott Neighbourhood Plan workshop …  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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St Mods press on

The ‘information-day’ that St Modwen Homes and Staffs County Highways put together yesterday to explain the forthcoming roadworks was fairly unsatisfactory all round.
Instead of using the big room at Blythe Village Hall, the organisers funnelled people in and out of the back-room (where basically you can’t hold more than a dozen people comfortably) so it was very crowded at times; it was a poor effort frankly, and most reaction was, unsurprisingly, negative.
It was pretty difficult to get close to one of the officers, let alone hear what they were saying, but the gist of it was that the roadworks would go ahead come what may.
When it came to how Blythe Bridge & Draycott would cope with the potential gridlock, it seemed few of the questions we posed had ready answers.

A521 closure plans (2) Sept 2019

No way through to the A50 – for ten weeks

So … all we can hope is that the huge publicity that we as residents have generated (well done to us!) will have alerted a lot of motorists to the problem; and so those motorists will already be looking for alternative routes. Let’s hope so.
Good luck to everyone – the roadworks start on Monday (Oct 7th)!

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Bright array

If a motorist does get stuck in the roadworks jam, at least they will have a bright sight to look at.
New roadside planters, put up by local volunteer Lee Warburton, have been a real success.
The colourful flower arrangements in the containers have been dazzling on sunny days (…Draycott Plant Nurseries provided the displays).

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The whole project has been put together by Lee, who decided that Draycott Level, from the A50 to the Arms, just needed a little love (!).
He himself constructed the planters (more than half-a-dozen so far along the stretch), using a grant from the local ‘Draycott Community Solar Array Fund’ to pay for materials; got approval from the village council; and then got the official permissions from Highways to site them.The project is far from over – more planters are to come -, but with autumn setting in, we won’t see the best of of the scheme for another six months.
But then we expect Draycott Level to be bursting with colour again…!

It just shows what one volunteer can do with a little bit of good-will and determination. We owe Lee some thanks…

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No buses … and new buses

If a Draycott Council plan had come off, a bus service would have been running through Draycott-Cresswell by now.
Sadly, the plan has fallen apart, mostly because of legal issues.
However, it was a brave attempt and the council should be congratulated for having a go at least.

But … if you can get yourself to Tean or Cheadle or Blythe, there are some new services to try out.
Stantons have just started a twice-daily (Mon-Fri) ‘INR’ Cheadle-Hanley route which goes via Blythe.
D&G Buses have also just started a 32 service which goes Tean-Hanley via Cheadle.
Confusingly, First Potteries Buses also ran a 32 service, so that is now being renamed the ‘Kingfisher’ (!) service ; it runs Hanley-Uttoxeter via Tean and Blythe.
Meanwhile the long-established First Potteries 6A, which plies the Blythe-Hanley route, continues but some early-morning trips are now cancelled.
… the actual nearest working bus-stop to us is at Blythe Village Hall – and that serves the First Potteries 6A.
But, despite all that – still no buses through Draycott!

So, our recommendation is: if you are having difficulties, use the Moorlands Voluntary Transport scheme. Their local volunteer, Brian Blackwood, will pick you up and take you where you want to go, even as far as Stoke Hospital – and for around half what a normal taxi would cost you. You have to register, but, if you have no transport, it’s a real boon.

_ _
Cricketing gloom

It was a sad day at Blythe CC’s ground in Cresswell two weeks ago when the First XI played their last match of the season. Having had two successful seasons in the NSCCL Premier Division, this third season’s results had been grim, dooming them to relegation.
Such is the spirit of deflation at the club, even their Facebook page has fallen silent.

But the gloom will not last long we are pretty sure. Already a professional has been signed for next season, and there is a lot else to be proud of at the club, including the junior teams.

In front of the new hub: Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club's Lottery Bid), Simon Owen (club chairman)

Blythe Cricket Club’s ‘Community Hub’ (aka the pavilion)

Personally, we’d also like to see more publicity about the ground’s ‘Community Hub’ (which you barely hear much of these days), as more use of it would keep Cresswell buzzing in the winter months.

***
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Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

At last Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen Homes have realised how arrogant they have been over their treatment of residents concerning the proposed roadworks on the A521 (at the west end of Draycott Level – see pic below).
Now, a public meeting about the issue has been arranged, for next Wednesday (October 2nd), when St Modwen planners have agreed to meet residents.A521 road closure plan (St Modwen)As we’ve been saying in our reporting, the proposed roadworks, which are to build an access to the forthcoming Blythe Fields estate & a pedestrian crossing & traffic lights, will completely close the stretch of dual carriageway (all four lanes) – thus blocking off Draycott from the A50 roundabout.
Diverted traffic will have to go through Blythe Bridge in both directions – a possible nightmare scenario of congestion, as we all know.

The works have now been postponed four times – from Sept 2nd to Sept 16th to Sept 30th, and now to October 7th.

The work is being carried out by St Modwen, but has been authorised and ‘passed’ by Staffordshire Highways Dept.
The work is a necessary pre-condition for the building of the new Blythe Fields housing estate.

Confusion

The two authorities have handled this situation incredibly badly.
The first notices were issued at the beginning of August, but councillors did not seem to realise the implications.
Only after a series of (unanswered) letters to Highways from this website did the fine details of the works even start to trickle out; and St Modwen did not even directly contact residents until September 9th (a week after the first date to start the roadworks!); while the official ‘alert’ on roadworks.org has been downright confusing and contradictory for months, right up to today.

In mid-September our local county councillors finally took the issue on and met with the two authorities to express residents’ concerns – but it is only in the last two days that the St Modwen have finally made an announcement of this public meeting – and the Highways Dept at last issued a public letter and put an information page about the roadworks on their website.

In their official literature, both Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen pride themselves on their ‘communication’ – a claim which has been seen to be hollow.

Meeting

Seven questions at least will need to be answered at the meeting on Wednesday.
1 – Why no contraflow?
2 – Do they seriously not expect the already congested road into Blythe Bridge to become gridlocked?  What provisions have they made for emergency vehicle flow if jams do occur along this strtech of Uttoxeter Road?
3 – What does ’24-hour working’ actually mean? How will it affect the residents near it?
4 – If the ‘alternative parking’ is to be provided for residents on Uttoxeter Road, how far along are they in discussions with the car-park owners?
5 – How far back from the works will motorists be advised that it might be a good idea to turn away and avoid the works?
6 – Why was the communication on this, and the postponments, handled so badly?
7 – When will Highways demand that Roadworks.org sorts out its act?

Contraflow
Many residents have been wondering why a contraflow system could not be put in place – this would mean at least two, or even one, of the lanes of our dual carriageway could stay open, easing the congestion.
But, in an interview with the Times & Echo newspaper, St Modwen have said no – saying that such a move would lead to the roadworks lasting not the planned three months, but twelve months, and that this was unacceptable to local communities.
To be fair, their engineers also claim that deep excavation needs doing (for drainage passages) – which means maximum width work is required.

Of course, cynics might say that St Modwen are desperate to see the roadworks finished as soon as possible, and never mind the congestion. Why?
Because homes are already sold on Blythe Fields, and moving-in dates are promised for the Spring…

Blythe Fields homes construction

Blythe Fields homes are already under construction

24-hour working
To hurry the works along even quicker, St Modwen have gained permission for 24-hour working. The main heavy working will take place between 7.30am and 8pm, leaving light working for through the night. But what exactly is ‘light-working’?

Blythe Bridge congestion
The official diversion is the turn-off opposite Chandni Cottage into Blythe Bridge – past the doctor’s surgery, the Black Cock and the Co-op etc. We all know how difficult this road is for motorists because you have to zig-zag in and out of parked cars. It gets worse when buses need to get through, and even emergency ambulances struggle.
So, to our admittedly untrained eye, it looks only like a recipe for gridlock.

St Modwen are vaguely saying the answer might be to provide some off-road parking for the householders along that stretch, and then encourage them to use it.
They need to be pinned down on this proposal.

Meeting

Not to be too cynical again, but this meeting looks like just a rubber stamp situation. If the authorities were genuinely looking to consult or explain, they’d have had this meeting three months ago.
However, you never know… and we are always hopeful!

The public meeting takes place at Blythe Bridge Village Hall (next to the doctor’s surgery) on Wednesday October 2nd from 2pm to 7pm, and all are welcome.

***
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Road closure cock-up

Well, what a cock-up it has been!

Even up to the last week of August, we were all led to believe that the westbound (A521) route out of Draycott to the A50 & Stoke was going to be closed from next week for two and a half months.
However, at least, according to the official roadworks map, the eastbound side, coming into Draycott, would remain open… so it was believed.

But…. the signs indicating this closure were quite vague, and no one was quite sure what the details were.  Plus – no one on the Highways Department ‘hotline’ seemed to know the details either.
So… which lanes were actually closing? No one quite knew.

So we feared the worst – quite rightly as it turns out.

Contradiction

Some of us also noticed that the official order, issued by Staffs Highways, contradicted the official map.  The official order was, confusingly, saying something different to the map.

So, as the village council were doign nothing, we wrote to Highways on behalf of the residents, pointed out the contradictions, and asked for an explanation.

We still have not had a reply (no shock there!) – but… guess what? … the closure signs on the road there have immediately disappeared.
And today (late August), the official Draycott roadworks-alert map was suddenly – without warning – simply changed!

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The new information now is that, it seems, BOTH the eastbound and westbound routes between Draycott and the A50 will be closed for eleven weeks from September 16th not September 2nd (with just a couple of days in between, when the eastbound will be open).
No apology or explanation for the former misleading information either.

Gridlock fears

In other words, if this is allowed to go through, for nearly three months, there will be no way out and no way in at the roundabout from or into Draycott; motorists will be forced to navigate through the crowded and narrow streets of Blythe Bridge instead to get in and out. What a nightmare. We predict this extra load will cause gridlock…
(By the way, as of the time of writing this, the official Highways order has not yet been altered – it still has the old wording – so someone in the department is still clearly not getting the message).

This is not a good situation to be in for motorists.  There has already been a lot of discussion on the village Facebook page about this – and no one is happy…

Arrogance

It doesn’t help that Staffs Highways have arrogantly placed these traffic orders without even discussing the issues with our local councillors – or since apologising to confused members of the public for their mixed messages.

Road closure sign 2nd Sept

The original sign of road closure was for September 2nd – which turned out to be completely wrong.

What is more than annoying about this move is that it seems to have been just sprung on us. Although the original notice was issued at the beginning of this month and issued to local village councils, little publicity was done to tell actual residents about it – even the local newspaper hasn’t done a report on it! So most of us have been largely unaware of it until very recently.

It is a sad situation too when a large housing developer such as St Modwen Homes (on whose behalf all these works are being done) also doesn’t keep our local representatives & residents properly up to date.
You’d think that they would want to keep good relations with local people, but their ham-fisted way of going about this is not a good sign.
This affair really doesn’t give residents confidence for how St Modwen will carry out the rest of their huge development in our village, and, indeed, carry out their other proposals for the village that are already in the pipeline for the future.

***
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NEWS: Fatality / planning revisions / handyperson wanted / 5* restaurant

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid Jan 2019
In this post we have news of…:  another death on Draycott Level / planning changes at Blythe Vale and Blythe Park / apply to be our lengthsman / Golden Keg’s achievement …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Hand-Bell Ringers concert…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & 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

_ _ _
Fatality on Draycott Level

It’s sad to have to report another road accident death on Draycott Level – it’s the third in the last six months.
Last Friday afternoon, Martin Barker was travelling home on his motor-bike when there was a collision with an Audi car just outside the Chandni Cottage restaurant. Martin, who is only 50, died of his injuries the next day. He will be sadly missed.
The people in the car were uninjured.
If you saw, or know, anything, of this incident please contact the police on 101, quoting incident 474 of January 11.

We won’t know the cause of the accident until the inquest is held in a few weeks’ time, but already there are calls to make that stretch of road safer. (It’s a 40mph limit through Draycott until you get to the dual carriageway, when it suddenly becomes 60).

So it’s timely that Staffordshire County Council has just granted £5000 (from its Safer Roads project) to this district; and Draycott Council is in charge of organising the spend.

Speed indication device at draycottAt the moment, our councillors want to use the money to buy at least one permanent SID (SIDs are those electronic signs which flash up your speed as you pass it – see pic) – but it’s not clear how useful a SID will be. After all, we already have lots of speed-limit signs on that stretch now, and the drivers ignore them!
Do you have alternative thoughts about how to spend the money? If you do, email the council or turn up to the next meeting, on February 11th.

_ _ _
Another year, another planning application

It seems unbelievable, but when we just thought the dust would settle, slightly, up pops more hefty sets of documents to have to wade through.

In the latest twist to the Blythe Vale project, St Modwen Homes now want to revise their proposals. Instead of the 118 homes they already have approval to build, they now want a revised application – for 146 homes, i.e. to squeeze in an extra 28 homes on the same site.

As this is such a flagship project for the Moorlands Council, the chances of any objections to it being successful are almost zero – but at least this is a chance to comment again on one problematic situation, the traffic issue: namely, the exit road off the estate coming out onto the dual carriageway, by Chandni Cottage.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the proposal means an awful lot of traffic at that point (the estate itself actually will have 270 parking spaces!)
So, the thing is: what provision is there for traffic & pedestrians to exit the estate and then cross the dual carriageway, in order to get onto the road opposite into Blythe Bridge?

Exit from blythe vale

Exit from Blythe Vale on to the dual carriageway (BB Roundabout to the left). The grey area is roads that St Modwen must now be responsible for; the oblong box is the hatched area; and the dog-leg shape by it going across the dual carriageway is… what?

However, St Modwen’s diagram doesn’t give us a clear answer: there is a hatched area (i.e. one where cars cannot be stationary) but the little dog-leg shape by it has us foxed. Is it for traffic lights? Maybe.
This question has been referred to Draycott Council, and, with luck, they will have an answer for all of us by their next meeting on Feb 11th.

+
Meanwhile, Cresswellians have their own bit of planning puzzlement.
As people from there will know, approval was only given for the expansion of the Blythe Business Park on condition that all the new commercial units were completed, and a completely new access road was built across the site (starting at the still-to-be-built Cresswell roundabout).
Well, the developers, MJ Barratt/Scentarea, don’t want to wait for that. They want to get the first of the units, the new Greenhouse People factory, viable as soon as possible – so they want permission to use the current access road into the site for now, and not have to build the new access road (and roundabout) just yet.
But some nearby residents are concerned about extra traffic from the new factory using the current access road, because this access road is very close to the railway crossing.
If you too have thoughts, you have until 27th March (this is a new, extended date to the original date) to comment. Click here to comment online.

_ _ _
Five-star food!

One bit of good news (at last) is that a Draycott restaurant featured in the 2018 list of cleanest and best-run establishments in the county.

The Sentinel newspaper worked it all out, using Food Standards Agency data, and found out that the Golden Keg in Uttoxeter Road received a five-star food-hygiene rating last year.

Golden Keg staff had a stall at the 2018 Draycott Fayre

Congratulations to them!!

_ _ _
Fancy some casual outdoor work? For money?

As readers of this website will know, many residents have not been happy for some time that Draycott Council has not made more effort to keep the district up to the mark by ensuring necessary maintenance jobs are done.

For some unclear reason, for the last five years, the council has chosen not to use its so-called ‘lengthsman’ funds & grants to pay for a handyperson – i.e. someone to ensure the upkeep of clean pavements, see to collapsing signs, do minor hedge-cutting and so on.

Pavement encroachment, dec 18

This pavement near The Draycott Arms should be able to “accommodate a buggy”, but is so overgrown that that would be impossibe. It needs clearing.

(As one cynic pointed out, it might have helped if they had actually advertised that the post was available…)

Anyway, at last, they are advertising it. Hurrah. See advert.
If you fancy putting in a few hours now and again, the council wants you.
You will have to drop them a line stating why you think you could do the job and what remuneration (per hour) you would like.
But they want to appoint someone quite quickly, so don’t hang about if you are interested.

***
If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about 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

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

NEWS: top cricket / MORE houses? / open nurseries / council tax concern

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: Blythe CC go top of division / 100+ more homes for Draycott? / plant nursery re-opens / council tax worry…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Draycott Sausage and Cider Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Blythe go top!!

It may not have been the best of summers – but our local cricket team has certainly given us a lot to cheer about!
The first eleven at the Cresswell-based Blythe Cricket Club have been among the top teams in the NSSCL First Division pretty much all season, but they went even better than that this last Saturday by beating the leaders (away).
Their victory – by the narrowest squeak, but a proud triumph anyway – takes them straight to the top of the league.

This win now virtually assures them of an historic promotion to the NSSCL’s top tier – the Premier Division – though, yes, the final games must still be treated very seriously.

Musharraf Hussain victory signCaptain Peter Finch, who himself has played incredibly well all season, told the sports newspapers in an interview that a lot of the team’s success is down to this year’s professional, the Bangladeshi all-rounder Musharraf Hussain (see pic right).
Musharraf has settled into Staffordshire much better than many of his compatriots and produced consistent high-level performances.
Everyone has also been excited to see a fresh lease of life for the county over-50s bowler, Mark Stanyer – in one game, Mark produced figures of five wickets for no runs….

Why not get along to the Cresswell ground and check out the team’s run-in? See dates for Blythe’s remaining home games on our Events page.

– – –
More planning than we thought

It’s been a big few days for anyone who cares about the future of Draycott.

The very latest proposals designed for The Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan (the strategy by which house building, open spaces and employment sites will be carried out in this region over the next fourteen years) are now published, and available for view either online or at your local library.
It is literally hundreds of pages long, so the local community-action group VVSM is still sifting through it trying to see what the main implications are for us locally. They should put out their views soon (we’ll let you know their conclusions as soon as we have them).

However, suddenly, yesterday, everything shifted under our feet…

We all knew that the fields on the ridge behind the houses on Uttoxeter Road up to the A50 highway have long had permission to be used as an employment site (the so-called ‘Northern Gateway’), but the poor state of the economy has meant there has been no takers … until now.
So, the owners, the St Modwen Group, have now started an interesting campaign to try to persuade the Moorlands District Council that at least part of that planning permission should be switched to house-building instead. They want to build 118 new homes on the triangular parcel of land almost next to and behind the Chandi Cottage Restaurant, then right along to the roundabout and around.
See map below.St Modwen Vale plan leaflet
This comes completely out of the blue to us, but in fact St Modwen say they have already had preliminary discussions with the council. All they need now is the planning permission, and they could start building in 2018.
After what happened in Cresswell, where a similar application for 170 homes was passed through – despite all the recommendations against it -, you have to wonder if St Modwen might well get their plans through.

Already a protest group of residents is being formed.
The protesters do have one advantage. Due to a strange quirk of boundary-creation, the St Modwen land sits just inside Forsbrook Parish Council’s responsibilities, not Draycott Parish Council’s. Remembering how Draycott PC was almost completely useless when it came to doing anything about the Cresswell application, it’s probably better for the protesters that they will be working with Forsbrook PC, which is a much more energetic council.

– – –
Shrubs and more

Despite the sluggish economy, people are still – thank goodness – trying to make a go of business.
So, it’s nice to see that Draycott Plant Nurseries have new owners.
Neil & Carolyn left earlier this year, after putting a lot of hard work into the place. Many of us had started to rely on them for plants, so, when even they felt they could not make it work, many of us feared the place would fall derelict.

However, new management is now in place. Draycott plant nurseriesBasically the stock at the moment is large shrubs, meant for designers creating ‘ready-made’ gardens, so the market is really trade customers – but anyone is welcome to go along and have a look. The nursery is open five and a half days a week.

We were told that, once everything is settled, the range will be extended, and we should see bedding plants on sale there by next year.

– – –
Deeper pockets needed by local council-tax payers

Just as we hear inflation is about to hit 3%, you can (probably) add yet another expense to your bills.

At its last meeting, Draycott Parish council had a debate about a large sum of money that it needs to pay out. Should it pay it in instalments, or instead pay the lot at once?
Experienced councillors pointed out that paying a large amount in one lump sum might leave the council’s financial reserves under-strength, meaning an increase in council tax would be required in the Spring to bolster them.

However, the remaining councillors decide to ignore that advice and plumped to pay in one lump sum. It’s unclear why they decided to do that.
It rather reflects the fact that Draycott Council already has an unenviable  record as one of the top twenty per cent of councils in the whole country that likes to put council tax up the most

As usual, the local tax-payers may well have to dig into their pockets to pay for this council’s strange decisions.

***
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)