Its now four weeks since the Judicial Review into the planning applications allowed by the Council on Calderstones Park took place at the High Court in Manchester. The local community through LOGS did a marvellous job raising £40,000 for the appeal with tremendous extra work being done by local solicitor Robin Makin. The Council spent £35,000 defending the case but it might all have been a waste of time and money.
As I have already revealed at the last Council meeting Mayor Joe Anderson said that he would make neither the Beechley Riding for Disabled or the Miniature Railway move if they did not want to. Both before Council and after the Mayor’s statement I have talked to the RDA and they have confirmed that they don’t want to move but want a 25-year lease. We have known this for some months and all the expense and anguish of the JR could have been avoided because if the Stables do not move most of the planning application cannot proceed.
However, all the limited intelligence that we are getting back from the Council suggest that they see the way forward as a compromise over what they refer to as the depot site which is clearly ‘brownfield land’. Their compromise may well be, “no development on the 90% but let us build 19 homes on the depot site”. We do not regard this as a depot site. This used to be the site of the world-famous Orchid Collection which was maliciously destroyed in 1983 by the Militant controlled council. Whether Orchid site or depot there can be no argument about whether or not it is part of the Park.
We don’t think that is a compromise! The development of that site would put obtrusive housing right into the park and would necessitate the building of a two-lane road from Harthill Road onto the site.
We believe that the only uses that the site should be used for are uses which restore the link between the site and the wider park. Within that there are a number of activities which could be considered:
- Education as some sort of ‘Park School’ for infants and junior children
- Health or social care uses acting as a base for a range of health and social care related uses within the Park
- An arboretum
- A horticultural training project
- New collections in glass houses
There are probably more activities but these are the ones that have occurred to us! We think it important that we have ideas ready to present to the Council whenever and however they decide to react to the Judicial Review.
That’s why we are embarking on a consultation process to ask you what you think about the uses. Are you an individual with a good idea? Are you an organisation that feels it could make good use of the site in the park related methodology suggested? Have you any thoughts about other organisations that we could contact about the opportunities?
We are not, at this stage, looking for a detailed proposal but an outline of an idea and suggestions about a way forward.