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Plans for new-look golf course with 150,000 tonnes of waste blocked again

A golf club’s bid to remodel its course using 150,000 tonnes of waste has been rejected for a second time. Staffordshire County Council refused permission for Whiston Hall Golf Club’s previous plans for the course north of Cheadle in 2020.

And now the council’s planning committee has refused permission once again after a fresh application was put forward.

The club sought permission to remodel the northern part of the existing golf course to improve on-site water management, accessibility and player safety. Around 75,000 tonnes of material from construction, demolition and excavation and 75,000 tonnes from commercial and industrial waste streams would have been used for the remodeling.

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Objectors to the plans, who have branded the scheme “landfill in disguise”, said the latest proposal was identical to the previous one turned down almost two years ago.

Resident Sally Marjoram, who has three children with additional needs, said: “As a family we not only strongly object to application, but if it goes ahead, with the noise and disruption, we will find it harder than it already is to keep our children safe and settled.

“The applicant hasn’t considered or made any attempt to resolve the supposed drainage problem using conventional methods such as gravel soakaways, French drains, etc. It would be impossible to police and subsequently enforce for contaminates or toxic waste, due to the vast quantity and duration of dumping envisaged.

“The noise, dust and pollution in the local environment have not been considered and would be significant. And the very high number of HGV movements per day on the 60mph road would be extremely unsafe.

“This is a mass volume large landfill site operation disguised as reprofiling. Its only aim is to be a highly unorthodox profiteering exercise and it will never be returned to a sustainable golf course.”

John Steele, vice chair of Kingsley Parish Council, said: “This is the second time you have been asked to determine this application. After the previous comprehensive refusal, which was not appealed, we were surprised to see that the application now before you contains no real changes.

“We had hoped that this monstrous scheme would disappear, but no – what we have are more words, diagrams, charts and pictures which haven’t changed the substance of the matter at all. Kingsley Parish Council have strenuously objected to many issues.

“It’s a misleading objective; it is a heavily disguised waste management or landfill operation masquerading as a golf course remodeling exercise. The 150,000 tonnes of waste material is an immense volume of material far in excess of that which would be required for any necessary improvement of the golf course.

“The course was eminently playable and popular for many years whilst it was being properly maintained. Indeed it was highly regarded by golfers as one of the most interesting in the north Midlands -membership and frequentation only declined when it was allowed to deteriorate.

“We’re concerned about potential dumping of hazardous material and negative traffic impact. The daily volume of heavy goods traffic traveling to and from the site would have a negative impact on Whiston and the surrounding area.”

The application was recommended for refusal by council planning officers. A report to the committee said: “The applicant failed to demonstrate that the proposal is reasonable and necessary; comprehensive, detailed, practicable and achievable within the proposed timescale.

“The applicant also failed to demonstrate that the unacceptable adverse impacts of the operations on local amenity and the environment resulting from noise, dust, water pollution, traffic impact and the visual impact could be satisfactorily mitigated such that the site was capable of being operated to high environmental standards within the Churnet Valley. Therefore, the development was not considered to be compatible with nearby uses, or appropriate in scale and character to the surroundings.”

But Chris Jarvis, an agent who spoke in support of the application, said: “Technical consults including this authority’s own officers dealing with traffic, landscape, ecology and archeology have raised no objections. The local authority’s environmental health officer and Natural England have raised no objection and importantly the Environment Agency, the statutory body with responsibility for pollution control, has raised no objection.

“However, the comments of these expert technical consultes appear to have been ignored by your officers who have instead applied much greater weight to the comments of objectors and taken these as evidence that significant harm would occur. The applicant has demonstrated in the very detailed planning application that the proposal would not give rise to unacceptable impacts on the environment or residential amenity and measures would be put in place that would adequately control operations.

“The proposed development is the remodeling of the golf course utilizing only materials which the Environment Agency considers suitable for use in golf course construction. The application does not propose the operation of a landfill for non-inert waste, nor would the grant of planning permission allow that.

“The course was constructed without the aid of a specialist golf course designer and this has resulted in the building in of a number of operational flaws across the golf course design. To remedy these flaws the applicant has engaged the services of Green Tiger Design to identify and address issues affecting the course, particularly in the respect of safety, drainage and playability, and now proposes a scheme of improvements to make the whole golf course easier to manage. , more enjoyable and also safer to play.

“There are a number of issues in the northern part of the golf course which currently make it difficult to maintain, and for large parts of the year inaccessible to golfers. Land drainage schemes previously installed have not rectified drainage issues and the designer has proposed a package of measures which would allow better onsite management of water, improve playability and therefore likely secure the ongoing viability of the golf course.”

Committee members voted unanimously to refuse permission. Councillor Jill Waring said: “I feel a bit concerned about the landfill element of this- are you certain there is no hazardous waste being used in there, nothing that would cause any problems for the local residents?

“I’ve heard from the consultant there is only going to be acceptable materials used and the Environment Agency are happy with what’s being used. But knowing what I know about Walleys Quarry in Newcastle, and the horrendous conditions that the local residents are facing, I don’t trust the Environment Agency with what I’ve seen over the last couple of years in relation to Walleys Quarry.”

Councilor David Smith said: “My understanding is this application is essentially the same as the application that was submitted previously. And so I find it personally very difficult to do anything other than refuse this application.

“In 30 years of sitting on planning committees I don’t ever recall an identical application coming back again to committee. There is a process by which they could have previously taken the application to appeal and to have dealt with it through the normal planning process – I’m somewhat surprised the way the application has come back to us.”

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