It’s Tuesday March 12th and residents in the north of Stone were celebrating Stafford Borough Council’s rejection of Seddon Homes’ plan to build 34 houses on land south of Nicholls Lane and east of Airdale Spinney. Planning Committee members and Councillors had visited the site earlier that day.
The application provoked more than 80 objections from residents concerned about road safety and the impact on the neighbouring Moddershall Valley Conservation Area. The historic beauty spot is noted for its mills and is a popular location for walkers, cyclists, riders and birdwatchers.
More than 40 concerned residents packed the meeting to hear Councillor Joyce Farnham warn against potential traffic hazards and Councillor Philip Leason explain that the historic Moddershall Valley been left untouched for 200 years.
Councillor Geoff Collier passionately argued that the plans would be a blot on the landscape and destroy the whole area. Local resident Gill Sandford also spoke against the development.
In the event, planners based their rejection, not on traffic, but on heritage and environmental grounds. To quote their online decision document, “The imposition of suburban dwelling forms on the valley would adversely affect the rural character and appearance of the site and surroundings. The harm would outweigh the benefits of…addressing the shortfall in housing land supply.”
Seddon Homes had claimed the new development was the “natural continuation of the Airdale Spinney development” that was built 25 years ago.
It is not yet clear whether they intend to appeal the decision or submit a fresh application. “We have just seen the Council’s decision in writing and are taking stock of the situation,” a Seddon representative told the Gazette on March 21st.