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Just over 6 weeks ago, we noticed that the ‘planning applications’ section of High Peak Borough Council’s website was inaccessible. During this time, no one has been able to view the details of planning applications made to the Council via the Internet. All that has been provided by the Borough, and that only in the past couple of weeks, is a list of applications made. Application documents that we have a legitimate expectation to be able to examine in our own time on the web, have simply not been available to us nor any other interested party.

It needs to be stated that this is not the first time that problems with the planning portal have been experienced by the public:  indeed, as recently as January, concerned members of the public related to us how key documents for applications such as the controversial Lidl planning application at Brookfield in Hadfield could not be downloaded. There are many other examples, too many to state here now.

Having made enquiries with Officers and Councillors, it would appear that the explanation being offered is that a web server which hosts the information has broken down, and it is somehow taking all of this time to commission, fund and configure a replacement. Numerous deadlines have been given to the public over the past few weeks, but none of them have been met. Yesterday’s deadline is the latest and veritable final straw.

In an age where the Internet is becomingly increasingly connected to every part of our lives, we feel that the accessibility of such important information is vital – it is simply not good enough to point out that the information is also available at municipal buildings when most people work long hours and cannot access this part of the service.

If HPBC want to belong to the 21st Century, then it is vital that the Internet service is properly maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week & 365 days a year.

In the meantime, important information about planning applications is hidden from view and scrutiny. In these circumstances, Keep High Peak Green has already asked the Chair of the Development Control Committee, Councillor David Mellor, to consider postponing the Committee dates for major or contentious planning applications, and further allowing an additional 3 weeks to scrutinise such applications once the server has been restored. We are aware that other people have also made similar representations to their local Councillors.

We ask the Council to give serious consideration to our proposal as we feel that such disregard for public interest allied with a ‘stonewalling’ approach to serious and fundamental concerns about the local planning process cannot go unanswered.


As you are probably aware, by far the greater part or High Peak is in the Peak District National Park (PDNP). If we are to defend our countryside, we have to respond not only to High Peak LDF Core Strategy consultations but also to those of the Peak District National Park. Bear in mind that the Peak Park is a Planning Authority in its own right.

The current PDNP consultation is the second in the their Development Plan Process (DPP). and is referred to as the Core Strategy Refined Options Consultation. It can be accessed here.

Once on this page, to comment on the consultation document rather than just read it, you have to register as a consultee. However that is no big deal. Just click on ‘Login/Register’ at the top right of the page and follow your nose. This kind of thing is witlessly boring, we know, but a lot less time- consuming than responding to the consultation by writing a letter or an email (both of which are also possible). Again, the pay-off is worth the effort. You become one of a relatively small number of people whose opinions will influence the future planning policy of the National Park. Like it or not, the future is to those who use the internet most effectively!

The closing date for the consultation is 10th April 2009 (next Friday). Obviously just respond on matters that interest you. There is no obligation to respond to all the issues raised.

Possibly the most immediate and important matters that we need to address are under ‘Transport’ in chapter 8 of the consultation document. In particular we need to make our views known on the following issues:

T2 –  The demand for new road schemes to accommodate current and future levels of traffic growth, and

T3 –  The adverse impact of traffic

To secure the National Park for the future, the PDNP Authority needs strong and unambiguous policies in these areas. This is primarily because there is still pressure for a motorway or its equivalent across the northern end of the Park. This pressure has been whipped up entirely by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC) in conjunction with some shadowy business interests, to serve the dream of never-ending economic growth. TMBC has pushed hard for the Mottram-Tintwisle A628 bypass as a step towards its goal of a second transpennine motorway. This proposed bypass goes through a Nature Reserve (on stilts!) and a section of the Park. It destroys countryside, the natural beauty of the landscape, the flora and fauna of the Park, increases atmospheric pollution and fosters yet further reliance on road transport. The last official estimate puts its cost at £315 million. It achieves nothing for local people that would not be better served by a HGV ban on the A628. Such bans have worked well elsewhere. Thanks to the efforts of ‘Save Swallows Wood’ (a group campaigning to save the nature reserve), the CPRE and (latterly) the PDNP itself and Natural England, as well as many other activists, the proposal is in its death throes. Unfortunately it may well reincarnate in one new form or another.

That is why we should be considering supporting the following options (which are not mutually exclusive):

T2.3 – resist all new road schemes in the National Park, save in exceptional circumstances (you can harden the option if you like)

T2.4 – remove all ‘in principle’ support for any already proposed or new road in the National Park – including the Tintwistle relief road

T2.7 – research an environmental levy; investigate a Park-wide weight limit of 7.5t and improved public transport in order to relieve Tintwistle of its traffic problems, and

T3.5 – investigate the park-wide 7.5t weight limit

We hope you spend a few moments of your time to respond to the consultation.

Ongoing Consultations

April 2009
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