30 June 2021

Proposals for Froghall would prevent further restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal. They would also curtail opportunities to extend safe walking and cycling routes, create wildlife corridors and grow sustainable tourism.

The scheme for 49 houses on the land between Froghall basin and the A52 covers the route of the historic canal. Further down the Churnet Valley, volunteers have been hard at work uncovering the waterway’s rich heritage. They have restored structures and managed the environment in consultation with wildlife experts and landowners.

Actor and IWA Vice President, David Suchet, is passionate about canals and rivers, their history and the environmental, well-being and economic benefits they offer. He explains, “The waterways of Britain have been an important part of my life since my wife and I bought our first narrowboat back in 1974. Over the years, it has been a privilege to lend my support to restoration societies across the UK. These groups work tirelessly to bring rivers and canals back to their former glory in order to protect our heritage. As Vice Presidents of the Inland Waterways Association that protects and restores Britain’s canals and navigable rivers – and also of Staffordshire’s Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust – we have experienced working alongside restoration volunteers firsthand. I have learned just how many years these restoration projects can take to progress and the value of milestone projects along the way.

“I urge the landowners and developers to look around Britain’s inland waterways to see the magic that can be created by visionary groups of volunteers and the charities who are determined to make a difference to our waterways. Any development should not prejudice potential reinstatement of the route of the Uttoxeter Canal.”

Uttoxeter Canal Restoration

Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust (CUCT) has been exploring the opportunity of creating a walking and cycling route along the length of the Uttoxeter Canal. Studies show this would improve accessibility and connectivity within the Churnet Valley and contribute to sustainable tourism. These studies form the evidence base of the SMDC Local Plan adopted in September 2020. CUCT volunteers have reinstated traditional cast iron mileposts to form the basis of the Uttoxeter Canal heritage trail. Bridge 70 was also restored with the support of IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group. This is the last standing stone bridge over the canal between Alton and Denstone.

Restored Bridge 70 at Denstone. Photo by Waterway Images.

The planning application argues that the Churnet Valley Master Plan is only a Supplementary Planning Document for guidance. However there is clear basis in the main adopted SMDC Local Plan for expecting development of this site to make proper provision for the future restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal.

IWA Objections

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch submitted a six page letter of objection to the planning application in March.  An additional letter of objection was submitted by IWA’s Planning Advisory Panel. 

Following that, IWA and CUCT held a meeting with leaders from the council. We discussed the opportunities provided by the regeneration of both terminus ends of the Caldon Canal, at Leek and Froghall. 

IWA has submitted further letters of objection following the submission by developers of new documents at the beginning of June. Developers tried to refute the canal-related objections and proposed an alternative (and unrealistic) alternative route using the River Churnet.

The meeting date for the council’s planning committee to consider the application has been postponed three times. It is currently planned for the 15th July. 

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