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ehtick.

It’s the new Heritage Planning Case Database.  You can now very easily search for appeal and call-in decisions relating to planning permission (that affects a heritage asset), listed building consent and conservation area consent. Try simply searching on setting….

At present it has just 123 cases on it but the sky’s the limit. So how will it make things better? Well, how about improving democracy, openness, consistency, justice …. and heritage protection? Carbuncles can now be properly assessed, a bit more like doctors do it….

At the beginning of the Oswestry Hillfort saga  we mentioned the danger that it might develop along the lines perfected by Tarmac PLC at Thornborough Henges – and indeed used by almost every developer and market trader wishing to make a bob or two……

del

You ask for the earth and progressively reduce what you’re asking for until the punters agree to what you were originally hoping for and think they’ve got a bargain.  That’s exactly the track that Oswestry seems to be taking.  No way did the developers think they’d get lucky with their first or second or third demands but now …. far fewer houses… further away … you know it makes sense Rodney!

Except that it doesn’t. It’s still awful. A while back we contrasted what was going on at Oswestry with a similar situation in Malta, and it’s Malta that is still showing how things ought to be. The number of houses  that El Del Boy wants to build near the Xaghra Stone Circle there has been reduced from 10 to 2 (and further away) but the authorities are being urged…

to prohibit any development in the buffer zone to the Xaghra Stone Circle and to change the local plan to ensure that no development is ever allowed in this zone.

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For more about Xaghra see here  and here.

The CPRE has issued “a wake up call for the Government”…..
“We are saying loud and clear that whatever their original intentions, the reformed planning system is not working. Local people are being disregarded, open countryside is being developed while suitable brownfield land is left unused, and still too few homes are being built. We have evidence from across England that the effects of current policies on the countryside are devastating, with the Green Belt, protected areas and, above all, our ‘ordinary’ but hugely valued countryside, destroyed or threatened with destruction. Our latest research into adopted and emerging Local Plans shows at least 500,000 new homes planned for greenfield sites. This could result in the loss of 150sq Km of irreplaceable countryside. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Destruction on this scale is totally unnecessary when there are enough suitable brownfield sites for around 1.5 million homes.”  More here.

The National Trust concurs…..
“Councils are being “hustled” into allowing development on greenfield land by central Government” (their Director) and “the green belt is no longer sacrosanct …. At the present moment 150,000 applications are in for the green belt…. This should be absolutely inconceivable.” (their Chairman).  More here .

In stark contrast, the Government’s says:
“This Government values and protects the countryside” (Planning Minister Nick Boles).

That’s very similar to what they said way back at the time of the introduction of Section 79 of the Planning Practice Guidance …..

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Lest

Depending on who you believe you may wish to sign the CPRE’s Charter to Save our Countryside HERE

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Wiltshire does a Shropshire!              [Image Credit: Montage: NSE 2014]

The above of course is a fantasy. But it’s interesting because the distance from the monument to the houses, about 150 m, is similar to the first proposal for the development around Oswestry Hill Fort. What would be regarded as utterly ludicrous and unacceptable worldwide in Wiltshire is being pushed for in Shropshire.  And yes, Shropshire County Council, “pushed for”. No-one should imagine it’s not obvious that for some people this isn’t a process, it’s a plan.

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Anyway, those campaigning to keep Oswestry Hill Fort’s setting development-free may enjoy Section 7.2 of the November minutes of the English Heritage Advisory Committee, just released. It was a presentation on “setting” and how EH’s guidance on the subject has been “woven into government guidance”. Their key points on setting are:

  • There is always a degree of subjectivity in assessing setting but EH guidance provides a standard framework and means of analysis. The Department for Communities and Local Government has accepted the approach.
  • A line to define setting cannot be mapped in advance of development proposals coming forward. It is not fixed spatially.
  • Appreciation of setting will change over time.
  • While visual impacts, especially views, are likely to be the most important factors, other elements may well affect setting.
  • Setting is not dependent upon public accessibility (but especially ‘popular’ views etc may be particularly important).
  • Designed settings may well be more important than ‘fortuitous’ settings but the latter, e.g. in many conservation areas, may be a major part of the significance of the heritage asset.
  • Setting has no significance in its own right: setting is not a heritage asset; it is not a designation.
  • The interest in the setting of a heritage asset lies in what it adds to (or detracts from) the significance of the asset.
  • Only some elements of the setting may have a bearing on that significance; others may be neutral.
  • Buried archaeology can have a setting.

We suspect it is good news for the campaigners in 3 ways….
1. Nearly all of those points can be cited to suggest development would be inappropriate, not the reverse.
2. EH have formulated a standard framework and means of analysis for assessing setting which the Government has accepted. Nothing could be more sensible. It means there should be no purely subjective, inexplicable or unclear decisions, whether by officials, councillors or Inspectors.
3. EH has already said the Hillfort is “one of the greatest archaeological monuments of the nation” and yet, as everyone can see, it’s setting on the Town side has been reduced so much  that it’s now derisory. So it would be SOME “standard framework and means of analysis” that enabled any official or councillor to successfully argue it ought to be even smaller! So bravo to EH for constructing a bulwark against impenetrable or idiosyncratic decisions.

That’s all the Campaigners have ever asked for or been owed, a fair assessment on the merits of the case. Nothing else.

Today’s article is by Andrew Heaton, the second respondent to our recent request for contributions to the Journal. (You are welcome to be the third!). He highlights a threat to a section of Offa’s Dyke. It’s not far from Oswestry Hill Fort (enough said!) You may also recall that another section of the Dyke suffered criminal damage recently. This time though the threat is legal.

[Please note that all articles by Guest Bloggers express their own views and perceptions which may or may not correspond with our own.]

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Turmoil in Trefonen
by Andrew Heaton

There’s turmoil in Trefonen ! Under the guise of the ‘emerging SAMdev plan’, a property developer has applied for permission to build 12 homes in a field in Trefonen – a field that contains a section of nationally important and internationally renowned Offa’s Dyke. The planned development is within the setting of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and the plans show the nearest proposed house being only about 90 metres from the scheduled area and a mere 20 metres from the closest extant length. Large lengths of Offa’s Dyke were scheduled a long time ago before the importance of the less dramatic lengths was recognised and therefore this proposed housing development may be adjacent to nationally important archaeology which is not protected simply because it has not been assessed.

Clwyd & Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) have displayed on their website,‘Conservation Statement Offa’s Dyke ‘Conservation Statement Offa’s Dyke’’; it refers to this section of the Dyke as it heads North from Trefonen as “the monument becomes more impressive and continuous”! Not impressive enough for English Heritage it would seem !

Conceptual plan of the  development – note the close proximity of the Dyke.  As may be clearly seen, walkers on the Dyke Trail Footpath, will not have such a good view of the Dyke.

Conceptual plan of the development – .note the close proximity of the Dyke -  the closest section is just 20 metres away.

In the past, English Heritage have stated that the likelihood of finds in this field to be high. The proposed development site contains a number of potentially important archaeological features and remains, including earthworks of different dates and an ancient stone hedge. To the best of my knowledge there have been no exploratory investigations and currently, no heritage impact assessment report is available. It is clearly essential that such work should be conducted before a planning decision is taken otherwise really important archaeology could be destroyed.

The ‘emerging SAMdev plan’, enables developers to put in applications for building, on hitherto protected pieces of land. As a result of the lack of a five-year supply, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “presumption in favour of sustainable development” is now the main planning policy consideration in determining the application. The Planning, design & access Statement may be seen here.

The ‘advice’ from English Heritage with regard to this site is as follows :
‘The application area is within about 100 metres of a well preserved upstanding and scheduled section of Offa’s Dyke, national monument no 1006262. I made a pre-application site visit to the site, accompanied by the applicant’s agent on 16th January 2014 and subsequently confirm that English Heritage does not object to this application in principle. Following numerous objection comments made to the local authority and forwarded to English Heritage, we made a further site visit on 10th March and this has not resulted in changes to our view”.

I’m astounded that English Heritage should take this stance. Planning Policy Statement 5 (Development Management page 8) Policy HE9 Additional Policy principles Guiding the Consideration of Applications for Consent relating to designated Heritage Assets states that :
“There should be a presumption in favour of the conservation of designated heritage assets, the more significant the asset, the greater the presumption in favour of its conservation should be. Once lost, heritage assets cannot be replaced and their loss has a cultural, environmental, economic and social impact. ‘Significance’ can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting”. When substantial harm to or loss of significance is a corollary of development, the policy states “local planning authorities should refuse consent”.

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Developments within Trefonen during the past 15 years or so have already impacted not only upon the Scheduled Monument (Offa’s Dyke) itself, but also the Offa’s Dyke footpath which has effectively been corralled into a corridor between houses. The monument is of national importance, and the attitude that has been taken by landowners/developers and the lack of control exercised on the development impacts by the Local Planning Authority are both outrageous.

Although the Dyke eventually flattens out in this field, its ditch will survive well and probably contains important and unique archaeological information together with invaluable environmental data. The physical essential form also continues down the length of Chapel Lane, where it has been built on by properties. But these sit at a raised level and allow the line and form of the Dyke to be visualised as a continuation of the linear feature when viewed from both the Offa’s Dyke Trail to the West and the main Oswestry road to the East. Originally, the Dyke ran behind Church View & Meadowlea, where the proposal has new houses and garages.

English Heritage cited the importance of this linear visual attribute, when considering recent (November 2013) Planning Application for a single dwelling just 500m from the nearby application site Ref. 13/01025/FUL, which was refused permission to be built. The proposed development is for 12 dwellings and in a more prominent position than the one refused – directly between Offa’s Dyke & Offa’s Dyke Trail Path. Yet this time, there are no objections from English Heritage. Where’s the consistency ? How may 12 dwellings have less of an impact than one ?

The proposed development is on a site of historical interest. Apart from containing a significant section of Offa’s Dyke, the field was certainly used as an enclosure for sheep and cattle, that drovers brought down from North Wales & Anglesey – yet it certainly pre-dates the Enclosure Act of 1845. The animals would be kept overnight in Trefonen and when leaving, would be taken in a south-easterly direction and thence to London.

The access point through Whitridge Way, is where there is an historic stone hedge. The Applicant implies that the existing straight boundary is associated with the previous estate development – but this is not the case ! The hedge-line is on old Tithe maps from as far back as 1838! The stone hedge has been estimated to be over 400 years old. One section of the stone hedge, has some clearly ancient and worn stone steps and a stile, which was the means by which the drovers could easily leave the field without releasing any of the animals.

Shropshire Council has a responsibility to protect our heritage; the stone hedge contributes a great deal to the local character of the area and its loss would be detrimental – all should be done to protect it. To gain access to the development, would necessitate the partial removal of this stone hedge – this is simply unacceptable!

The Conceptual plan of the development (see top pic) shows a new footpath link to Offa’s Dyke Trail Path, with possible walkers’ parking indicated. This is ridiculous ! How will visitors be expected to find it, tucked away at the end of an estate cul-de-sac ? Is it appropriate, to send more traffic up an estate cul-de-sac, searching for 5 possible parking spaces which are likely to be full when they find them ? This is just a token gesture item. Offa’s Dyke would lose its significance if a new development is built – ‘significance’ being not just the physical presence of the Dyke, but also the setting in which it exists. In the field of the proposed development, there is a stretch of very visible Dyke, which is over 100 metres long; to build houses in the near vicinity would ruin the context of this section of the Dyke.

View of site as now.  Offa’s Dyke indicated by red line. Walkers on the Dyke path have virtually the same view

View of site as now (looking North). Offa’s Dyke indicated by red line. Walkers on the Dyke path have virtually the same view… at present, but 12 houses built within the yellow box would of course destroy it.

A view from the Dyke. New houses would be just 75 metres from here – by the yellow line; the red line shows the run of the Dyke.

A view from on the Dyke (looking South). New houses would be just 75 metres from it (by the yellow line).

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he view from the proposed site of a new dwelling – looking back at the Dyke (red line), just 75 metres away.

The view from the proposed site of a new dwelling – looking North, back at the Dyke (red line), just 75 metres away; but note, that the nearest section is just 20 metres away.

Paragraph 123 of the NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should aim to: “identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason. “This area is currently a particularly tranquil part of the village, located alongside the Offa’s Dyke monument and is bordered by the narrow Chapel Lane to the East and the Offa’s Dyke long distance footpath to the West. Both are well used for quiet, passive recreation by villagers and visitors alike whilst taking in the local views and natural environmental features.

Some readers of this article may feel that I’ve been ‘unfair’ to English Heritage. In a sense, that may be true; after all, when we consider such aspects as ‘importance’, ‘context’ and ‘setting’, these are very much subjective opinions. The view from English Heritage, is that building 12 houses within 20m of the Dyke is ‘acceptable’; my view differs, but who is right?  There are, however, a considerable number of material objections that may also be made, by referring to tangible & quantifiable facts. Since these are beyond the scope of this article, I’ll provide just one brief example. 

Shropshire County Council Highways Specification for Residential/Industrial Estate Roads Feb 2000 Section 2.3.5 Access Road (4.8m wide) states that“A standard access road is a short cul-de-sac giving direct access to no more than 50 dwellings. The normal maximum length permitted is 100 metres, if not a loop”.  At 130m long, the current estate cul-de-sac is already well over the 100m maximum length. The extension will add on a further 80m, making an extended total of 210m ! (It cannot be made a loop).  At over twice the normal maximum length, will the cul-de-sac be built ?  Will Shropshire Council take any notice of their own Highways specifications ?  I’d be willing to bet good money, that they’ll ignore their own ruling.

The ‘need’ to build more houses, is the over-riding priority. The willingness of Shropshire Council, to ignore facts – even their own, typifies the kind of thing that we are fighting against; not just the villagers in Trefonen, but in many other towns and villages across the nation.  I’m convinced that this will (deservedly) ‘hurt’ the government at the next election.

Should developers be allowed to put 12 dwellings so close to the Dyke ? Should the field be ‘Open to Offa’s?’ If anyone can help us to fight this case or tell us more about the significance (if any) of stone hedges, please contact me – pubrunner2000@yahoo.com

scissorman

Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out – Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.

Some say “The Scissorman” is a real person. Others that he is merely being used as a literary device to represent The Profit Motive. Who knows? All that is certain is that whatever anyone tells you in posh technical language what’s really happening at Oswestry is a fight between those who want to conserve History and those who want to make a personal profit, the bigger the better. Yet how can one know that’s true when it’s easy to photograph History but impossible to photograph The Profit Motive?

Or is it?

Balfarg Henge

That’s Balfarg Henge, Fife in the middle. The rest is The Profit Motive.

No, Oswestry Hill Fort isn’t going to look like that, not imminently anyway. (So no claims we’re spreading misinformation or using scare tactics please, we’re just showing how ruthless Money can be if left unopposed). What is yet to be revealed is the degree of success the Campaigners will have in preventing the Hill Fort looking anything like that. Half as bad or a tenth as bad would be an outrage. Yet The Profit Motive has given zero indication it gives a damn about History or is willing to exercise self-restraint – it would simply walk away if it did – so it all depends on the strength of those who believe the Hill Fort’s current setting should be kept entirely sacrosanct.

A STONE ALIGNMENT AT BANCBRYN, MYNYDD Y BETWS, CARMARTHENSHIRE (PART FOUR)

by Dr Sandy Gerrard

Abstract
In January 2012 a previously unrecorded alignment of stones was identified on the southern slope of Bancbryn, Carmarthenshire. Subsequent research has indicated that this stone alignment shares common characteristics with examples in South West England and sits firmly within an area previously identified as containing a significant number of prehistoric cairns. A scheduling assessment conducted by Cadw has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a prehistoric interpretation. This article seeks to re-examine the evidence and utilise it to present a persuasive interpretation supporting a prehistoric explanation for this alignment.

Case for a prehistoric stone alignment at Bancbryn (continued)

20. “Because of uncertainties about the dating of stone alignments and the duration of their use it is impossible to determine which regularly associated monuments represent contemporary associations.”

Discussion: This is a problem associated with all stone alignments and does not detract from their significance.

21. “Cairns, however, frequently occur at the end of an alignment (especially type I alignments), at some point along the course of an alignment, or beside an alignment.”

Discussion: There is a cairn at the head of this alignment and another beside it. A further small number of mounds close to the alignment may also relate to it although because there are considerable doubts over their identification they have been omitted from the mapping in this paper. These mounds were depicted in an earlier publication. The presence of a cairn at the head of the alignment and another close by is yet another feature shared with the two longest Dartmoor alignments.

Stones leading towards the cairn at the head of the alignment

Stones leading towards the cairn at the head of the alignment

Stone alignment in foreground passing a small cairn

Stone alignment in foreground passing a small cairn

22. “During a recent survey of the Plym Valley, Devon, it was found that all seven stone alignments in the study area had cairns at their up-slope ends.”

Discussion: Cairns are often found at the upper end of single alignments. There is a cairn at the head of the Bancbryn stone alignment.

23.”Standing stones and cists represent further classes of monument that were in use at broadly the same time and which are also sometimes spatially associated with stone alignments.”

Discussion: Neither of the two longest Dartmoor alignments are known to be directly associated with separate standing stones or cists. The presence or absence of these features really does not affect the interpretation as many alignments are not connected with cists or individual standing stones.

24.”In most cases the axis of the stone alignment is eccentric to any associated monuments such as cairns, circles, cists, or standing stones, suggesting that the construction of the stone alignment post-dates the construction of these associated features. This is also the case where stone alignments cut across the top of cairns or cists.”

Discussion: The Bancbryn alignment occupies the space between two discrete clusters of cairn. The broad axis of the Bancbryn cemetery is 233°, whilst the Lletty’r-crydd cemetery is 142° and the orientation from the top of the alignment to the bottom is 214°. Inspection of the plans confirms this eccentric association.

25.”In many upland areas stone alignments lie within concentrations of monuments, usually just outside field systems of various classes within areas that are rich in burial and ceremonial sites.”

Discussion: This certainly describes precisely the situation at Bancbryn. The stone alignment lies within an upland area rich in burial and ceremonial sites a short distance from historic fields.

26. “Detailed surveys on Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor over the past few years have significantly increased the number of stone alignments recorded and our understanding of those already known. This is principally because most stone alignments are found in relatively remote areas and are not easily seen from aerial reconnaissance or casual survey”.

Discussion: Even on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor which have been subjected to considerable archaeological attention, fresh discoveries of stone alignments continue to be made. Once discovered there is universal surprise that the structure had gone unnoticed for so long. The discovery of a stone alignment usually follows a change in vegetation or a particularly intensive piece of fieldwork. This type of archaeology is very likely to be overlooked by walk-over or desk based surveys.

27. “The former position of most fallen or robbed stones will be marked by their socket cut into the subsoil. Some alignments are wholly or partly preserved beneath blanket bog.”

Discussion: It is acknowledged that not all stones will be marked by sockets cut into the subsoil. The reason for this position is clear. Small stones could be erected firmly by insertion into the turf and topsoil alone without the need to disturb the subsoil. Large stones on the other hand would need additional support and a socket cut into the subsoil would have provided this. The absence of socket holes (should this prove to be the case) should therefore not represent a barrier to acceptance of the prehistoric explanation.

28. “Preservation is generally good and most recorded examples are fairly complete, with perhaps 60% of the stones still standing. Most contain some fallen stones.”

Discussion: Fallen stones are a feature of stone alignments. Those alignments that have not been restored tend to have a larger percentage of fallen stones. The 60% mentioned in the Monument Class Description is not dissimilar to the 54.2% edge set stones at Bancbryn and again reinforces the prehistoric explanation. The Bancbryn alignment in common with other upland alignments is fairly complete. Despite the apparent fragility of this resource, examples often survive surprisingly well and this is also the case at Bancbryn. The looseness of some stones is a characteristic that is shared with other alignments of this type.

29. “Because of the size of the stones used in most alignments they are very vulnerable to damage; small stones can be hidden from view by rough grass and bracken and are therefore vulnerable to being inadvertently knocked over or removed, large stones are highly desirable for walling, road building, or other construction work.”

Discussion: The small stones at Bancbryn were hidden from view by heather and molinia. This comment does not relate to the assessment process but does emphasise that monuments of this type are fragile.

A STONE ALIGNMENT AT BANCBRYN, MYNYDD Y BETWS, CARMARTHENSHIRE (PART THREE)

by Dr Sandy Gerrard

Abstract
In January 2012 a previously unrecorded alignment of stones was identified on the southern slope of Bancbryn, Carmarthenshire. Subsequent research has indicated that this stone alignment shares common characteristics with examples in South West England and sits firmly within an area previously identified as containing a significant number of prehistoric cairns. A scheduling assessment conducted by Cadw has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a prehistoric interpretation. This article seeks to re-examine the evidence and utilise it to present a persuasive interpretation supporting a prehistoric explanation for this alignment.

Case for a prehistoric stone alignment at Bancbryn (continued)

11. “It must also be borne in mind that the ends of a stone alignment may have been “restored” in the past to make them look more impressive”

Discussion: The Bancbryn alignment has not been restored. The survival of large numbers of recumbent slabs combined with the fact that the structure was not recorded by antiquarians means that it has not been interfered with in this way. This enhances its importance since it has not been modified.

bancbryn22

ABOVE: The terminal pillars at Drizzlecombe were re-erected in 1893.

12. “The spacing of stones along the length of an alignment is often uneven although again some allowance must be made for the possibility of lost or fallen stones and for the movement of stones since they were erected.”

Discussion: The spacing of stones along the Bancbryn alignment as a whole is typically uneven but within some segments spacing is sometimes rather more regular. Some of the stones are also slightly out of line. These characteristics are also shared with SW English alignments.

Regular spacing evident along this length of the alignment

Regular spacing evident along this length of the alignment

13. “The number of stones in an alignment is loosely related to its length, but three stones is the minimum for any alignment”.

Discussion: 175 stones (including three found during excavation) have been recorded at Bancbryn. This is the equivalent of one stone per 4.17m. In common with other long alignments stones have been lost or are buried but this number compares very favourably with Butterdon Hill where the figure is one stone per 3.67m and the Upper Erme where an average spacing of 3.60m has been noted. The broad similarities in stone spacing is of significance and provides further evidence of a direct parallel between the Bancbryn alignment and the longest Dartmoor stone alignments.

14. “The terminals of many stone alignments are elaborated in various ways, although it must be emphasized that the attention given to alignment ends during “restoration” work makes assessment difficult.”

Discussion: The cairn at the upper end and the large stone at the lower end represent elaboration which has not been affected by restoration. Single alignments often have cairns at their upper end and a large stone at the bottom. Indeed this is the classic form of the site and both features are present at Bancbryn.

15. “The use of larger than usual stones at terminals has already been noted, and in the case of stone alignments with two rows of uprights a large stone is sometimes set between the rows at one or both ends to block entry to the space between the rows of uprights. These are known as blocking stones.”

Discussion:-Blocking stones are a feature of double or multiple alignments only. The Bancbryn alignment is of the single alignment type.

16. “Local stones were generally used in the construction of stone alignments.”

Discussion: Local limestone stones were used in the construction of the Bancbryn alignment. Some of the differences in appearance between the Bancbryn alignment and those built in other geological zones may simply be the result of the different character of the available stones

Limestone blocks were used in the construction of the Bancbryn stone alignment

Limestone blocks were used in the construction of the Bancbryn stone alignment

17. “There is no common orientation discernible among known alignments, and in many cases the terminals are not inter-visible suggesting that these monuments were not established as sighting-lines.”

Discussion: Understanding of orientation has progressed since this was written. Work by Jeremy Butler on the Dartmoor alignments has identified that there is tendency for them to be orientated upwards towards the north-east quadrant. The Bancbryn alignment conforms to this as do the stone alignments on Bodmin Moor. In common with many alignments the terminals at Bancbryn are not inter-visible.

18. “The function of stone alignments is not known; they are presumed to be ritual or ceremonial structures.”

Discussion: This statement does not help with the assessment process though it worth emphasising that Cadw in 2006 described the area as “a complex interconnected ritual landscape” (Cadw, 2006). Such landscapes often have stone alignments within them.

19. “Stone alignments are generally dispersed monuments, although occasionally up to four examples may be found within a few hundred metres of one another as at Shoveldown, Dartmoor, Devon.”

Discussion: There are a significant number of alignments within the area. All lie north of Bancbryn with Saith Maen some 15km away being the nearest. The others are Cerrig Duon (19km), Nant Tarw (20km) and Trecastle Mountain (25km). Two of these sites consist of alignments comprising only very small stones.

Never say never! Following January’s bad news for Duddo Stone Circle it seems that there has been a re-think!

Duddo Stone Circle [CreativeCommons/EwenRennie]

Duddo Stone Circle [CreativeCommons/EwenRennie]

Northumberland County Council planning officers had recommended approval for two wind turbines close to the monument but now they are advising the Council to throw out the plans – on the back of a recent decision to allow another turbine to be erected in the area.

The case will be of interest to those campaigning on behalf of Oswestry Hill Fort in two particular ways. The Inspector had said – and the planners had advised the Council – that the development “would not cause substantial harm to the setting and significance” of the monument but now the planners are telling the Council “The proposed turbines in conjunction with the recently approved Shoreswood wind turbine will cause substantial harm to the setting of the Duddo Stones Scheduled Ancient Monument.”

Oh, and the Council has listened! They’ve thrown the two turbines out! And that really is the end…

they did it

Many of our readers will be familiar with the long-running struggle against Stancliffe Stone, a quarrying company active in the Peak District, and in particular the area around Stanton Moor, home of many prehistoric monuments, among them the Nine Ladies stone circle.  In 2009 a victory of sorts was felt to be won, and the protestors vacated their camp after ten years occupation. They cleared up immaculately and left the site, close to the Nine Ladies, in its peaceful, natural state. A brief history of the ongoing quarrying of the moor can be found on the Friends of the Peak web site.

But it seems that Stancliffe Stone are ready to try again. The pressure group ‘Stanton Against the Destruction of the Environment’ (SADE) have recently put out a plea  for people to raise objections to a series of planning applications regarding the Dale View quarry, to the north of Stanton Moor.

Satellite image of Stanton Moor, showing location of prehistoric monuments south of Dale View quarry. © Google Earth

Satellite image of Stanton Moor, showing location of prehistoric monuments south of Dale View quarry. © Google Earth

The Dale View Quarry can be seen on the image above, top centre. SADE have issued the following statement aimed initially at people living or working in the area (reproduced here with permission):

Dale View Quarry – Alarming Developments

You may already have noticed due to extra lorries and the huge size of the hole in the ground that Stancliffe Stone Ltd are undertaking an aggressive new attitude to quarrying at Dale View Quarry, Stanton-in-Peak. This is the quarry that was at the centre of so much media attention when the eco-warriors were in the district.

The company has recently lodged four new development applications with the Peak District National Park Authority which – if approved – will have massively detrimental effects on local landscapes and communities.

Please take a few minutes to object to these applications as they will affect us all, with increased traffic, dust, noise and a bigger and bigger void spoiling our wonderful views – the views which draw tourists to our area. Far more people in the Dales rely on tourism for their livelihoods than rely on quarrying!

Please also encourage family and friends to object and forward this email as widely as possible. We’re aiming for hundreds of objections. If you’ve already objected to any applications, thank you, but please be aware two important new ones are listed below.

The four applications to object to are:

1. New Application NP/DDD/0214/0131

Proposal: Construction of saw shed for two stone cutting wire saws, crane and water recycling system. Please object if you don’t want the sound of stone-saws reverberating round the district.

2. New Application NP/DDD/1013/0973

Proposal: That the company be allowed to not comply with 17 of its commitments to restore the land back to its original form before taking out more stone. If you think the quarry’s an eyesore, you’re right – the company’s failed to meet any of its restoration and re-landscaping commitments and now wants that failure made legal.

3. NP/DDD/0606/0613 

Proposal: A single wire saw and compound. The company has already begun work on this installation without planning permission but has been stopped – temporarily at least – by a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with the Peak Park. Note this is in addition to the first application above – are we to have three stone saws? Or is the company going for a belt-and-braces approach – if they don’t get two saws, they might get one?

4. NP/DDD/0913/0818

Proposal: Relocation of the ugly black shed you can see from the quarry entrance. This is a retrospective application – the company moved the shed without permission from its previous site, where it didn’t have planning permission either.

How to object

Please object as soon as possible. The company planned to start stone-sawing after Christmas and is impatient at the delay caused by SADE getting involved. All these applications are likely to be put before the Planning Committee in March or April.

The easiest way to object is to visit the Peak District Planning Search page and click on the links against the individual applications. Scroll down the official-looking page where you’ll find a box inviting your comments. If there is more than one objector in your household, please make separate objections – numbers count. Don’t forget to include full contact details or your objection may be discounted.

If you’d prefer to write a letter, please include the relevant application numbers from the list above. Send your objection to:

The Minerals Planners,
Peak District National Park Authority,
Aldern House,
Baslow Road,
Bakewell DE45 1AE

It is our view at the Heritage Journal that the most invidious of these is application 2 in the list above, as this makes a mockery of any and all promises made in the past to ‘make good’ any damage to the environment. What good are agreements if they can be revoked at a later date? If you live, visit or work in the area please consider raising an objection to all these proposals.

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