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High Peak Borough Council published the latest consultation exercise in the creation of a new Local Development Framework on March 26th this year. Published jointly with Derbyshire Dales District Council, the Joint Core Strategy can be viewed and commented upon online.

HPBC’s latest press release makes it plain that the central thrust of the report is to implement the ridiculous housing targets imposed by the Government of the East Midlands, which we remarked on in November 2008. Whilst the document also deals with plan for other important areas such as Transport, Retail, Environment and Climate Change, the Housing section is the largest and will facilitate massive sections of the Greenbelt and Countryside in the High Peak to be handed over to developers.

Before the consultation ends, we plan to express our views on this matter and we would urge all those who are concerned about the future of the High Peak to also respond. The deadline for responses is Thursday 21st May 2009.

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.

We’d like to remind everyone that the deadline for responses to the “Shaping the Future of High Peak” consultation is this Friday. The deadline was already extended from last year, so this really is your last chance to respond to this important document. For more details, please read out earlier post.