Cannock Chase AONB Joint Committee has set out its views of the proposals put forward by the Cannock Chase Special of Area of Conservation (SAC) Partnership in a Position Statement published today.
The body which has responsibility for protecting the nationally designated landscape believes that the proposals for car parking and visitor management offer a way forward to provide for the future growth in recreational use of Cannock Chase whilst safeguarding the area’s special landscape, wildlife and heritage interests. The Joint Committee has taken into consideration:
- An ‘inevitable’ increase in visitors sparked by housebuilding must be managed to protect Cannock Chase’s vulnerable landscape and wildlife.
- Analysis of information from planning authorities in the area shows an anticipated 30,564 additional homes will be built within 10 miles of Cannock Chase by 2032.
- Three-quarters of people currently using Cannock Chase travel less than 10 miles and visitor numbers are already expected to rise to nearly three million a year over the next decade.
- Up to £7.8 million could be available to deliver future plans produced by the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation Partnership, which relies entirely on money from developers to offset the effects of housebuilding.
- The plans want to improve trails, invest in more way signs and interpretation boards, provide conservation education to children and manage where people park by closing some parking areas in vulnerable parts of the Chase and creating more parking spaces, including free ones, in the more robust areas.
Frances Beatty, Chair of the AONB Joint Committee commented:
“Cannock Chase is already hugely popular and the number of visitors will inevitably increase still further over the next decade and beyond, not least as a result of local housing growth.
“Cannock Chase is a priceless resource that we all enjoy. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that we keep it special. This includes giving careful consideration to the way that we visit and use the Chase”.
“The AONB Joint Committee welcomes the proposals for car parking and visitor management put forward by the SAC Partnership, as a way to safeguard the ecology and landscape of Cannock Chase whilst retaining people’s use and enjoyment of the Chase”
“I would encourage everyone who loves Cannock Chase to read the proposals in detail and work together to keep the Chase special.”
The AONB Position Statement highlights that:
- Cannock Chase is one of England’s finest landscapes and is internationally important
- Authorities and landowners have legal responsibilities to look after the Chase
- Cannock Chase is a wonderful resource for people to enjoy, but its popularity is creating pressure on its fragile ecology and natural beauty
- Visitor use needs careful management to ensure that the Chase remains special for years to come
- The proposals put forward by the SAC Partnership offer the opportunity for long-term investment in visitor infrastructure, at no extra cost to the taxpayer, and a way forward to ensure that future recreational use doesn’t damage the area’s special interests.
Cannock Chase AONB Joint Committee, comprises elected members from the five local authorities which cover the protected landscape (Staffordshire County Council, Stafford Borough, Cannock Chase District, South Staffordshire District and Lichfield District).
The housebuilding analysis referred to was prepared by consultants for the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation Partnership and published in 2017.
View the AONB Position Statement.
View Staffordshire County Council’s response to the proposals.