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.
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).
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.
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?
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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