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We are celebrating the decision to throw out an appeal by developers to build a water bottling plant at Cowdale Quarry. The Planning Inspector has dismissed Express Park Buxton’s appeal against previous planning decisions made by High Peak Borough Council. The Council rejected the developers’ plans to build a five-hectare factory and distribution centre on the popular greenfield site near Buxton in early 2010 and again in 2011.

We fought both applications along with local people, which were unanimously rejected them because they would be “unsustainable” and “harmful to character and visual appearance of the countryside and special landscape area.” The Council also had concerns about the impact the building would have on the National Park. We’ve been mobilising support against the developers’ appeal this year.

So we are all letting out a huge sigh of relief that this much loved local green space has been saved once again from development. Plans for a huge factory in the middle of beautiful countryside was refused twice already, so we are absolutely delighted that good planning sense has prevailed again.

The appeal was dismissed on four grounds, including the effect that a new access road would have on the remains of early twentieth century limestone quarry and lime works, which are classified as a scheduled monument.

It is a little bit worrying  that the reasons for refusal other than the harm to the scheduled monument were outweighed by the supposed economic benefits of the water bottling factory. If the scheduled monument did not exist, the Planning Inspector may well have permitted the development. We think that the Planning Inspector’s summary shows that with the Government’s new planning system and drive for economic growth, far less regard is being taken of the damaging effects of development on high quality landscape, ancient woodland and countryside. 

Local people are waiting to see if this is the end of the saga at Cowdale. Express Park Buxton could decide to apply to English Heritage for consent to harm the history quarry and lime works.

The ball is now in the developers’ court. But we hope that they will just give up and leave our countryside alone. We will be keeping a watching brief.