We are celebrating after the local authority turned down proposals for a development. The scheme would have blocked the future restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal in Staffordshire.
The site proposed for development was opposite the restored first lock and basin of the canal at Froghall. There was no route for future restoration of the canal in the proposed development. As a result, it would have prevented the rest of the Uttoxeter Canal from ever joining on to the navigable Caldon Canal and the network of connected inland waterways. Campaigners from The Inland Waterways Association and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust are happy the restoration can continue.
The development proposal was for 48 new houses and restoration of a listed farmhouse, partially on a greenfield site not allocated for housing in the Local Plan. Both the Local Plan and the Churnet Valley Masterplan specifically state that any development should not prejudice potential reinstatement of the route of the Uttoxeter Canal. Development should also allow for land for the future restoration of the canal, along with walking, cycling and horse riding routes.
The Planning Applications Committee unanimously refused the application. This was for a wide range of reasons, including:
- the application not meeting the aspirations for mixed use of the site
- flood and transport concerns
- the integrity of the adjacent Caldon Canal embankment
- the appropriateness of the design of the houses for a rural location
- the harm to the future restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal
Of the over 300 objections submitted, many were objecting primarily to the impact on the future restoration of the canal.
Restoration can continue
The restoration of the first lock and basin of the canal at Froghall happened in 2005. The restoration came about as a partnership between volunteers, British Waterways and local authorities, backed by European funding. As a result, this popular section of the canal is now always busy with visiting boaters, tourists and walkers.
A study in 2009 concluded it would be feasible to restore the Uttoxeter Canal between Froghall and Denstone. Consequently, this would open up more of the Churnet Valley for recreation. Since then, a number of volunteer-led projects have been completed further down the valley. Find out about the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership.
The two waterway charities have been campaigning about the impact the development would have on the canal restoration since the planning application was first placed 7 months ago. In that time we have seen support from across the country from people keen to see the canal restored.
Alison Smedley, from The Inland Waterways Association, said “We are just relieved that common sense has prevailed. There is no other viable route available for the canal – the alternatives put forward by the developer simply don’t stack up. We don’t object to part of the site being developed for housing, as allocated in the Local Plan, provided the development allows for the future restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal and doesn’t undermine the stability of the Caldon Canal embankment and its retaining wall.”
Rupert Smedley, spoke on behalf of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust at the Planning Applications Committee meeting. He said “An opportunity exists for the developers to embrace the canal and benefit from it throughout the former Boltons Copperworks site. Examples exist across the country and within Staffordshire where developers have done just this, and we remain very willing to meet with the developers to discuss alternative plans for the site that would allow for the future restoration of the canal”.