The biggest campaign Whaley Bridge has seen in years – the protests over threatened building on a cherished greenfield site – reaches a climax this week and next as campaigners lobby High Peak Borough Councillors ahead of a critical vote.
Borough Councillors will make their all-important decision in Buxton next Tuesday (18 March). Kevin Worthington, chairman of campaign group Whaley Bridge Matters, believes the vote is in the balance. He has urged the 130-plus campaigners in the group to join with colleagues in carrying posters as they urge councillors to remove the controversial site from the draft plan. He believes that: “if it remains then there will be a massive knock on negative effect for all councillors and elected representatives in future elections, as this level of house building, across the country, against the public will, is a national outrage.”
Mr Worthington says it has been ‘a roller-coaster’ during the six weeks since the group was set up.
Whaley Bridge has been hit by simultaneous shocks:
- Developers Gladman announced at Christmas that they want to develop plans for a 107 homes estate on the greenfield site known as C9 to planners, alongside Macclesfield Road. They have intimated that their application is imminent.
- The borough council is working to complete a rejigged Local Plan, with the C9 site pencilled in. The plan will be voted on next week. The council’s second thoughts arose under government pressure to include more housing sites for the future.
Says Mr Worthington: “Since we were formed at the end of January, it has been so busy, with meetings, phone calls and emails, I am amazed at the range of expertise in our membership. If C9 is withdrawn from the local plan, we would consider that a victory. But if it isn’t, the fight goes on. There will be another consultation period and we will be even more active.”
One critical report on highways by Derbyshire County Council is awaited. Campaigners say the extra 150-170 cars that a 107 homes estate would generate will create chronic congestion and danger on Linglongs Road and Macclesfield Road.
Mr Worthington has received support from an unexpected source. Walkers from East Cheshire Ramblers at Macclesfield stopped to chat with him near the controversial housing site and wished campaigners well. Walking groups arrive almost daily to access the Goyt Valley and the Peak District National Park. The controversial housing plan could see an estate across the Midshires Way, the “Gateway to the Goyt”, which leads to the national park and the ancient church of St James’ at Taxal, one of Whaley Bridge’s crown jewels.