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Public Meetings

peak district landscape

Peak District National Park Authority Public Meeting - Dungworth

Date: 12 July 2004
Venue: Village Hall
Attendance: approximately 30 people

Issues raised by members of the public:

The Peak District is an iconic attraction but it is dying by 1,000 cuts at the edges as quarries and other developments grow. There is a feeling that there is no green belt so whilst the big wins such as Eldon Hill are good for the visitors, the losses on the edge are felt by local people. Can we lobby at regional level?

Tony Hams:

We are committed to conserving the fringes of the Park and have good relationships with neighbouring Authorities but their policies are sometimes less favourable to National Park purposes and we are therefore less able to control what gets developed.

Jim Dixon:

We would like to think that there is a buffer in all Authorities' minds between the Park and urban areas but at the end of the day the National Park Authority has no control over these.

Tony Hams:

The government doesn't like the idea of buffer zones as this is seen as extra zones of protection.

If you build affordable homes in the Peak District how long is it before they become unaffordable?

Tony Hams:

We are not house builders but we try to suppress prices to make housing more affordable and for local people in perpetuity. Estate agents say that our policies reduce prices by 30% but this still means it is difficult for local people to afford a home.

If we are keen on affordable homes for local people why do we see planning permissions given for holiday lets only?

Tony Hams:

This tends to be in outlying areas only where intensity of development is not as great and generally barn conversions are preferable but we will be looking at this issue more closely. Whilst demand is still there we will continue to get applications.

Jim Dixon:

Often the farm cottages provide extra income where farming in itself does not provide an adequate income.

Is there a danger of villages becoming depopulated by holiday cottages e.g. Winster and Eyam with an associated loss of services and pubs?

Jim Dixon:

The Peak District has a lower proportion of holiday cottages than many other UK tourist destinations but where they do exist they actually assist in keeping shops and pubs open so it's a double edged sword.

Tony Hams:

We don't want dormitory villages but often homes are sold on the open market and people have the right to use them as holiday homes. Increased council tax on second homes will help but otherwise there isn't much we can do.

But the NPA can prevent change of use.

Tony Hams:

Yes we can and often we do.

Jim Dixon:

Recently we refused a change of use of a pub in Wardlow to a house because we didn't want to lose what is potentially an employer, a service for locals and visitors alike.

On the edge of the National Park at Dungworth it is obvious what is inside and outside the Park because of the administration by two different Authorities. This is a problem where people relate to areas e.g. such as Loxley Valley which straddle the boundary. What is the policy on development on the edge of the Park? (We are pleased at the work of staff from the National Park Authority on the Loxley Valley village statement.) Communities are not viable pubs are threatened by lack of customers housing isn't affordable here either can settlements be stretched a bit to make them more viable?

Tony Hams:

We have given permission for 1000 homes in the last few years e.g. in Eyam an application for 30 houses included a small percentage of affordable homes but we refused it as the development was too big and didn't provide enough affordable homes. Communities need to have a view on what should happen and the National Park Authority needs to get better at considering what local communities want. We'd be interested to know local views about changing the boundary to bring you all into the Park.

Ruth Marchington, Director of Corporate Resources:

We raised this point in the Loxley Statement the gateway to the Park begins at Malin Bridge not Dungworth.

Trevor Bagshaw:

Without question there is a problem of identity within this valley. To properly solve the issue of Sheffield in the National Park there needs to be better working between Sheffield City Council, and the NPA. However there are no officers from Sheffield City Council here. In my capacity as representative of all north area councillors we are all keen to progress a regeneration project. Tourism development is low level at the moment. I'm going to a Yorkshire Forward meeting.

In a package of documents from the Countryside Agency there is no mention of the Authority or the Peak District National Park we must get our act together if people are to see quality of life for themselves and their kids. We need to do it and be seen to do it - perception is 99% of the problem.

Tony Hams:

I agree that we are not on the radar of some of the government regions e.g. Yorkshire.

Jim Dixon:

It's proving difficult with increasing regional draw we do try and get involved e.g. with Yorkshire Forward and the Northern Ways 20 year programme but we maybe don't have enough contact with Sheffield City Council. Everyone is so busy we don't
make an impact on one another.

Narendra Bajaria, Member:

I was astonished to find that the video of Yorkshire presented to the Olympic committee did not feature the Peak District National Park (and on challenging this, no-one could explain why). The National Park is allocated to the East Midlands region so the other three don't have us on the radar at board level. There is some way to go and a need to look at opportunities to work together on spatial development. Sheffield City Council have admitted that they need to do more to work with the National Park Authority.

Ruth Marchington:

People in regeneration are often forced to think in terms of either rural or urban when everything should be fluid and knitted together.

Jim Dixon:

If you're selling Sheffield you would think that the Peak District is a huge selling point.

Ruth Marchington:

But this needs investment as well as recognition.

Tony Hams:

At other meetings we have had the opposite view about promoting and investing in the Park as an attraction.

Trevor Bagshaw:

National Park Authority should engage more. But with no decent transport networks councillors need to engage with officers and communities to get things happening.

Mr Bancroft: Today Bradfield Rural Links buses won a National Award however the subsidy that enabled this to happen is disappearing. Once open access kicks in we want to link with local buses and SYPTE have said they will help fund buses.

There is also a problem with car parking in Low Bradfield at weekends. We don't want this problem to discourage people.

Tony Hams:

Agree we need the people and preferably on the buses.

Low Bradfield as a hub is untidy there are derelict properties that could be used as affordable homes. There seems to be two enforcement styles one for Hope Valley and one for here. Low Bradfield looks like Beirut by comparison with Hope Valley. Why don't councils put pressure on NPA for good development as they do in Hathersage? Also there is a problem of messy footpaths round Damflask.

Jim Dixon:

Ours and Yorkshire Water rangers will look at the footpath problem.

On bus services, there are a number of Sunday services but they aren't well known and don't link to popular walking routes. Many people simply don't know they exist.

Tony Hams:

Rangers used to run guided walks from car parks but now operate from public transport drop off points but it does need a lot of co-ordinated PR between Peak District National Park, councils and PTEs.

Anne Ashe, Member:

Partnerships are vital if we are going to get National Park purposes reflected in other Authorities' actions.

Trevor Bagshaw:

Rules have changed and services change as quickly. It is too easy to gain a service and then lose it again so there needs to be more joined up thinking. But I think people are living in the past if they think that people will use a bus rather than a car. It can't be beaten for convenience.

Anne Ashe:

But we can't ignore the fact that some people don't have cars.

Tony Hams:

Many people feel pride in bus services but we need to change the culture surrounding buses.

If you apply for planning permission for residency in a farm building the National Park Authority says no but they let us have a holiday let we then have problems filling it what then?

Jim Dixon:

You have to apply for a change of use but outside of a settlement you would be unlikely to get this. Our planning officers are very wary of people selling holiday lets off on the open market.

We've got a building that was once a cottage but have been told it's too big for local housing needs but it would be stupid to make it smaller.

Tony Hams:

We have supplementary planning guidance on housing which helps interpret policies.

Jim Dixon:

We are happy to look into the case.

Mr Bancroft: I enjoyed looking at the picture of Kinder with no people and no houses but it brings to mind the problems that will occur when analogue TV is switched off in 2006. Will we have loads of satellite dishes and transmitters? What is the philosophy of the National Park Authority?

Tony Hams:

In my opinion there are too many in the Park we try to refuse them but also encourage companies to share masts. On dishes in conservation areas we don't favour them but they do appear and we need to do something about that. We don't however have the staff to enforce this. We are under extreme pressure from government to allow them.

What is our view on wind farms?

Tony Hams:

It's a very subjective judgement. Some people like them and others don't.
It is unlikely that we will receive an application for a large scale wind farm in the National Park.

Would we get any say in it?

The example of the United Utilities wind farm application near Buxton was given. We objected and it was later withdrawn. We look at all applications on landscape grounds but we can be sure that UK energy supplies are under pressure and we will be encouraged to consider the role of renewable energy.

Ruth Marchington:

Maybe in time each settlement may have its own small scale wind energy supply.

Tony Hams:

Yes, small scale why not our policies and associated supplementary planning guidance already allow for that.

Tony Hams:

We are not against single wind turbines

Anne Ashe:

And small scale water power schemes.

Jim Dixon:

20% of our moorlands are impossible to restore because of air pollution it is up to urban authorities (as well as us) to address problems caused by car and air pollution.

What are the NPA's policies on solar panels?

Tony Hams:

It depends on the design of the panels and the site and relationship with the existing building we have approved some and refused others. If we can sort these out - we are happy to approve solar panels.

If the price is lower and the design better and more efficient then I agree that they would be great. The case against wind turbine on bird strike grounds is yet to be proven even though RSPB have done research.

Narendra Bajaria:

People should refer to the supplementary planning guidance on renewables which covers biomass, combined heat and power, solar panels etc. because it will help them to understand our approach to this area of development.

Is the country warm enough to successfully operate solar panels?

Tony Hams:

Yes as a supplementary energy source but it is currently uneconomic and the payback times are too long.

Lots of footpaths are used for recreational activity although once they were farm tracks between farms. Paths are now 'out of time' e.g. they don't easily link to public transport in areas such as the Manifold. Tourism would benefit if we created new paths and promoted them.

Jim Dixon:

One of the true success stories of the Park is the public rights of way network and the way that local authorities, rangers and farmers maintain it. It would be great to look at more creative links in the network e.g. to schools, safe routes ideally routes that are relevant to modern use of the land.

Maintaining current paths is important but we would like to look more imaginatively at the network over the next few years. I will pass on these ideas to our ranger service.

Trevor Bagshaw:

One of the real benefits of the Countryside Rights of Way Act is the requirement to set up a local access forum as a watchdog looking over highways authorities. Of real significance, post September 19, is the ability to bring about changes through the Rights of Way improvement plan. However, the government has allocated no budget for this to happen. Authorities must work together to identify routes that cross boundaries; that the local access forum oversee it; and that people lobby to get money for it.

Ruth Marchington:

It would make sense for a path to be created - from Malin Bridge - a small link near to the reservoir to create a 5 mile walk out of Sheffield and into the National Park for people to then catch the bus back.

Jim Dixon:

Looking after paths is the single most important issue that I will talk to constituent authority Chief Executives about. The whole tourism industry is linked to the network.

Mr Bancroft: We've been selling photomaps of a corridor across the Park - showing paths - but the problem for Sheffield is that there is no obvious tourist centre.

Horse riders would like a bridleway up the valley. One has been converted into a path for the blind and horse riders lost a route. There are very few bridle paths in the Bradfield area.

Trevor Bagshaw:

There are all sorts of possibilities for paths to be upgraded and downgraded.

Locals have changed them too, cattle grids have been put in and gates and locks installed.

Is this because of a problem with 4X4 users?

Tony Hams:

Not in this area although scramble bikes are a problem and mountain bikes do their fair share of damage.

What is the future for quarrying in the Peak District?

Jim Dixon:

The boundary of the Park was drawn to avoid much of it but we are still the third biggest mineral authority in the UK and mineral permissions last for 90 years. Many permissions date back to the 1950s so the best we can do is seek to impose modern conditions where possible. It will take a long time to see a reduction in quarrying because there is still a big demand.

What is the long term life of the Loxley Valley?

Tony Hams:

We are not aware of any specific problem what do you want?

My son's farm is adjacent to a site which is a den of iniquity for drug dealers and fly tipping. There is supposed to be a security guard but he has limited influence they should be made to clear the site up or clear it and build houses or industrial units. Haven't Sheffield City Council got the power to get rid of such eyesores?

Ruth Marchington:

We are working together through our local community forum.

Narendra Bajaria:

If it is dangerous the council can demolish it within 24 hours and inform the building control officers. The Loxley Valley partnership has the power to reach a consensus and sort it out.

It is really important that the Peak District is not kept as a chocolate box as it has been a dynamic working landscape for centuries. It is important that it continues to be.

Sheffield was always known to have a golden frame - the Peak District.

Please note that the comments raised by members of the public attending the meetings are not necessarily the views of the Peak District National Park Authority. All comments will be fed into the consultation process.

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