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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.
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.
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?
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,
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.
Often when the public are concerned about an application to build near a monument there’s a remarkable absence of clear illustrations of what the development will look like. Lots of words, yes, but no pictures. Take a large Scheduled Monument and the hinterland around it, north of Oswestry – you’d think Shropshire Council (“championing the needs of residents and putting their interests first“) would have published nice pictures of that sort.
But no. So to help them, here’s one that someone put together and sent us:
It would be good if they now put links to it on their front page. Why wouldn’t they? Now THERE’S an interesting question. Why wouldn’t they?
[Image credit: HOOOH]
Please, please, please click on our Events Diary to the left (or here). It lists upcoming Prehistory and Heritage Events and it’s just fantastic! (I can say that as it isn’t me who faithfully maintains it, it’s Alan and Sue!). Not on there yet, but soon, is a Seminar & Exhibition In Defence of Old Oswestry Hillfort, a week Saturday. WELL worth a visit if you can make it.
Ironically the Events Diary is showing this event in Cardiff on the same day …
Workshop: I Love Archaeology
When:Sat, 22 February, 11:00 – 16:00
Where:National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Workshop: The Origins Gallery at National Museum Cardiff displays the archaeological treasures of Wales.In this workshop you’ll find out more about some of the collections and contribute to a piece of collaborative art. http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=6847
We’ve been sent this image by HOOOH, Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort. We thought we’d share it as it illustrates with perfect clarity why the idea of building hundreds of new houses close up to the monument is simply ludicrous.
Let’s hope it is sent to every councillor – including the one that quoted an isolated bit of case law that said that a monument would need to be in danger of evisceration before refusal was justified!
Or to the Government, which stated in 2011: ““The presumption in favour of sustainable development is not a green light for development….. Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated land will retain the protections they enjoy today.”
A Government agenda to help builders build on the best bits of land, often at the expense of amenity and heritage, is all too evident. It’s based on the claim that it’s the only available way to mend the economy (something that economists say is untrue) and that there are insufficient brownfield sites to build on (something their own figures suggest is wrong).
Up to now, the building industry has gone along with it (why wouldn’t they!) but now someone has broken ranks: “Soil stabilisation/solidification is a most effective way to bring brownfield land back into productive use” says Al McDermid, Chairman of the Britpave Soil Stabilisation Task Group (See here). “Soil stabilisation/solidification could help bring this land back into use and so negate the need to dig up our ancient woodlands” [and, he might have added, Green spaces and the settings of monuments]. “According to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, government figures show that the amount of brownfield land becoming available for re-development is far outstripping the rate at which is it being used. There is enough for 1.5 million new homes.”
In 2011 the Government issued a “Mythbusting document” saying the National Planning Policy Framework is not a developers charter : “The presumption in favour of sustainable development is not a green light for development….. Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated land will retain the protections they enjoy today.” That’s not quite how it is seen in Oswestry. There was no question of development round the Hill Fort previously.
by Dr Sandy Gerrard
According to the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) the coal mining remains and holloways at Bancbryn are “post-medieval/modern features and therefore did not require evaluating.” So in a large part of Wales it would appear to be acceptable to sanction the unrecorded destruction of archaeological remains dating from the past 500 years or so. This attitude is curious given that a quick glance through their records available on Archwilio reveals that most relate to sites that are of post-medieval/modern date.
So, why is the hard pressed tax payer being asked to fund the collection and curation of information regarding sites that the Trust considers not to be important and worth evaluating when threatened? The position that no evaluation was required because it was post-medieval/modern is completely untenable. Perhaps the organisation should be re-named the Dyfed Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval Archaeological Trust as clearly they have no interest in post-medieval archaeology. Given the Trust’s unwillingness to engage with post-medieval archaeology perhaps the responsibility for its curation should be transferred to an organisation that actually cares.
What is certain is that an opportunity to enhance our knowledge and understanding was squandered. Survey of the surviving earthworks indicates considerable chronological depth and an interesting story that the DAT did not consider worth investigating. The first point to emerge is that the coal mining may have been carried out in two separate phases. Dumps from some pits lie within earlier pits and properly conducted excavations could have provided some much needed answers. This would seem vital given the importance to the economic and social history coal played in this part of Wales, or is the Trust suggesting the significance and historic development of coal mining should be ignored? Could it be that the earliest mining here was medieval rather than the late 18th or early 19th century date suggested by the Royal Commission? The opportunity to find out for certain was not taken and this would seem a dereliction.
Plan showing a variety of earthworks of different periods and the new wind farm road (pink) and verge (green). The earthworks destroyed during the development were not recorded prior to their destruction because DAT considered them to be less than five hundred years old and therefore not worth bothering with.
What is certain, from survey evidence alone, is that holloway A is earlier than the coal mining as it has been truncated. This holloway is therefore of some antiquity and the failure of the evaluation process to identity this detail is lamentable. A second holloway (B) also predates the coal mining whilst others (C) are either contemporary or later in date.
Sitting on the southern edge of the coal mining earthworks are two cairns. The western cairn appears to have structural elements within its fabric whilst the eastern one is clearly respected by a pair of holloways that skirt around it. The relationship with Holloway B is of particular significance as it implies that this cairn is earlier than the adjacent coal extraction pits. The line of stones leading south westward from this cairn can be traced for about 700m. The summary dismissal of the coal mining remains as unimportant meant of course that nobody looked to see if there were any earlier earthworks surviving in the vicinity. So much was missed as a result.
Surely it is foolhardy to dismiss something as post-medieval/modern without first checking to see what is there?
This, for example?
For all previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box.
by Dr George Nash
In terms of setting, Old Oswestry Hillfort has commanding views across the four compass points and clearly interacts with Wat’s Dyke (north and south), Oswestry’s post-medieval town-form (south), the parkland and garden landscapes of Brogyntyn (west), the Park Hall and Old Port Farm complexes (east) and the Wrekin (south-east). One would think that under current English Heritage guidance, the various vistas this impressive scheduled monument commands would be safe for us and future generations. However, for reasons unbeknown to myself and other academics, English Heritage have gone against their own guidance on setting (see free download documents: The Settings of Heritage Assets [October 2011] and Seeing the History in the View [May 2011, with revisions June 2012]. I, along with many people in and around Oswestry are perplexed by the double standards that appear to be in operation.
Here is what they say in Seeing the History in the View (2011 [revised 2012]):
“Views play an important part in shaping our appreciation and understanding of England’s historic environment, whether in towns and cities or in the countryside. Some of those views were deliberately designed to be seen as a unity – for example Greenwich Palace seen from the River Thames, or the many facets of Stowe Park in Buckinghamshire. Much more commonly, a significant view is a historical composite, the cumulative result of a long process of development. The existence of such views, often containing well-known landmarks and cherished landscapes, enriches our daily life, attracts visitors and helps our communities prosper.
……Historically important views are among the many sensitive issues that local planning authorities have to consider, and this account of English Heritage’s method of assessment is intended to help clarify this heritage aspect of the planning process, and promote national consistency. It should be especially useful to those commissioning and carrying out area-based studies as advocated by English Heritage and CABE in their joint Guidance on Tall Buildings (2007).
English Heritage will apply this method to its own decisions in relation to developments affecting views, and we believe that planning authorities and other interested parties will benefit by adopting the same approach”.
Chris Smith National Planning Director | English Heritage, May 2011
Extract from Seeing History……(free download document published by English Heritage in 2012)
Dr George Nash is an Archaeologist & specialist in Prehistoric and Contemporary art. He is Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Faculty of Architecture, Spiru Haret University, Bucharest, Romania and at the Centro de Geociências, Museu de Arte Pré-Histórica de Mação, Portugal.
From The Old Oswestry Facebook Group about last night’s meeting:
“….we are seeing signs that the town council is starting to listen. In brief, they have agreed to revise their SAMDev draft response to ask Shropshire Council for a review of current archaeological reports and heritage assessment supporting the Oldport proposals – a point that HOOOH has been strongly campaigning on. What’s really encouraging is that Oswestry Town Council is forming a view of the Oldport proposals outside of English Heritage, and taking the initiative to query the evidence base … “
Comment from Dr George Nash:
Quite clearly witnessed last night was the confusing statement from English Heritage [on] the council members. In their various guidance documents, setting is paramount but in the case of Old Oswestry Hillfort little thought appears to have been given, especially the views towards the south and south-east. The Council Members are not experts in cultural heritage, so some of them can be forgiven for voting the way they did and basing their assessment on the so-called experts from English Heritage. I urge all council members to read .’The Setting of Heritage Assets’, published by English Heritage in 2011 (by the way, it’s a FREE download from their website). What they say in this document is very different to the advice that council members were given.
The document referred to can be found here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/setting-heritage-assets/
Oswestry Town Council has posted its draft response to the hillfort housing sites ahead of it’s meeting tonight. As HOOOH explain:
“They have basically voted to go with English Heritage’s view that was made back last August – which is to accept housing on OSW003 and OSW004 (with some observations…) and reject OSW002. Also, like EH, they have said ‘no’ to the car park by the eastern entrance.
However, we feel from feedback from councillors that they have certainly felt the pressure of the campaigning and have begun to wobble. One has stated on Facebook that Oswestry Town Council are opposed to building by the hillfort but voted to support English Heritage recommendations, adding that it is “EH who have withdrawn opposition to 2 of the sites, NOT the town council.”
Sounds a bit like “It’s EH’s fault, not ours, we’d love to have voted not to damage the setting but the big boys (EH and the deep-pocketed litigious developers) made us do it…”
HOOOH are urging as many people as possible to attend the protest and the public Q&A session at the Council’s meeting straight after.
See what happened here. A glimmer of light?
We feel the recent letter to The Times from RESCUE, The British Archaeological Trust, is worth reproducing in full:
After the report in the Times (Letters, 2nd Jan, p29) is it time to stand back and look at what we may be allowing to be done to this country in the name of development and its presumed role as the only solution to our economic woes? Those aiming to surround Old Oswestry hillfort with a housing development offer the feeble excuse that they are not building on the hill fort itself, while at the same time ignoring the impact on views both to and from the monument (a material consideration for Scheduled Monument Consent). The people of Bath are facing plans to amend green belt land around the city with housing, roads and commercial development which will severely compromise the setting of the best surviving part of the western Wansdyke, another Scheduled Ancient Monument and landscape-scale earthwork.
Against growing threats like these, the number of people employed to examine the impact of development on our heritage is diminishing as local governments across the country cut their conservation, archaeological and museum staff, leaving some regions without cover at all, while those who are left have overwhelming work-loads. At the same time changes to English Heritage appear likely to reduce its influence. As we are only on the edge of economic growth, what other ancient monuments will be threatened as the pace of development picks up? We need to call a halt and reinstate the ground rules for protection of our Historic Monuments (and Green Belt land) before it’s too late and we need to fight for the jobs of those whose task it is to mitigate the negative effects of economic development. Our national heritage is not a luxury; in 2013 alone heritage tourism contributed some £26.4 billion to the British economy. Of what lasting value is recovery if we lose some of our most evocative and irreplaceable heritage in the process?
Dr Chris Cumberpatch
RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust
ADDITIONAL COMMENT FROM DR GEORGE NASH:
Dear Heritage Team,
I would suggest that in addition to the term ‘Green Belt (which actually accounts for little statutory protection these days)’ would also include the term ‘Green Space’. This certainly applies to land that surrounds Old Oswestry Hillfort. Alas, it is not designated ‘Green Belt’ but according to earlier accounts it was considered ‘Brown field’. To me and the majority of people living in North Shropshire, the fields a clearly green.