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Apedale Road Development:
Why Build on This...When There's This?

There are planning proposals to build 350 homes on rural land next to Apedale Country Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Forgetting the wildlife, yearly flooding at part of the site, poor road access and steepness at parts - the craziest thing (to me) about building on the greenfield site next to Apedale Road is that there are tens of brownfield sites in the borough. If you add Stoke-on-Trent to the mix, there are probably hundreds, and I'm guessing - many of a similar size, with infinitely better access for transport. There is one such large site 3 miles away in Burslem, where houses and buildings have recently been demolished.

I don't think this will make any difference to whether the plans go ahead or not, but as I live near the proposed site, I found some of my photos from it and took some of a few brownfield sites in Newcastle as a comparison. That was all I intended to do originally, but for some reason I started listing other issues, and decided to add a few pictures of the wildlife here...

Why Build on This?

This is "unrestored land" according to the propaganda promoting the housing development. To me it's just nature taking back over - a lovely area full of wildlife - common, rarer, and protected.

Old mineral quarry,
"unrestored land" according to planning proposal
These Highland cows will have to find a new home

When There's This?

None of them on their own are as big as the proposed development site, which might be the argument, but below are just a few of the brownfield sites in Chesterton and Newcastle-under-Lyme. There are more, and there will be even more, with soon-to-be-vacated premises at the Lymedale Estate on the edge of Chesterton, where (I believe) there are plans to build even more, despite empty buildings on the site. Most of the brownfield sites have excellent road access, unlike the Apedale Road development.

Some of the wasteland at the old Maxim's nightclub Stop Inn, A34 - a larger site than it looks here,
backed by a car park and boarded up chalets
Unfinished for over 2 years on London Road, Chesterton
- this isn't the only place with unfinished homes in the village
A large area of wasteland just outside Newcastle town centre, only a few hundred metres from the Maxim's site

Some local residents have mentioned how Chesterton feels like a dumping ground. It wasn't quite Copsa Mica, but dust from the opencast mines coated our homes until the late 90s, then new industry caused problems, including interference with TV reception, a new scrapyard and smelter (who knows what the pollution coming from this is like?) was approved and now the plan to site the new homes here. Some residents fear Chesterton will return to its past when the air was constantly polluted with toxins.

The development details cite an idyllic location next to a country park and amenities, yet they don't mention the noisy and expanding industrial estate next to it, with a brickworks, a smelter and scrap yard/recycling plant - which leads to heavy traffic through Apedale Road each day, and the poor road access. I'm not sure if they're building on green sites here, but if they are the same argument applies - if only things were so simple...why not utilise existing brownfield sites? A recent report said that green sites are more profitable to develop on than brown sites.

More photos of proposed development location

I might be making my own propaganda with the first photo here, but it's probably the most beautiful I've seen the area look, after light snow and heavy hoar frost in winter 2010. I've never seen it look like this before or since, even after the heavy snow in more recent years. The field and trees in the foreground cover part of the new housing proposals, and despite it's unsuitability I'm sure people would use that single-track dirt road to the left of the farmhouse for access to the new estate...

Hoar frost over fields, trees and farm house at Apedale Single-track dirt road access to site, over 1-mile long
This and the wooded area will be gone Wildflowers Apedale Road to the left. The land
in the foreground below is for sale, and could also be built on...
Planning proposals show the new estate stretching from Apedale Road (left background of this picture), to the Loomer Road estate (middle background).
The warehouses to the right are recent additions
Part of Rowhurst Industrial Estate, off Apedale Road

Wildlife

Part of the remit of Apedale Country Park was to protect and encourage wildlife under the Staffordshire Biodiversity Action Plan, yet now there are plans to destroy a large area right on the edge of the park that itself is full of wildlife - from common species (at least for now), rarer, and protected species.

The developers say there will be "nature corridors" or something like that, but that's hardly a compromise.

I don't have (or can't find) many photos of the wildlife, mainly because it moves too fast and I'm not patient enough to wait for it...

Mammals

Mammals here include bats, foxes, badgers, voles, hedgehogs, grey squirrels, harvest mice (I think), rabbits and/or hares (I can never remember the difference), moles (which will probably be pushed to neighbouring gardens when the building starts)...

Insects

Loads of butterflies, the types vary every year but include cabbage white, peacock, red admiral, meadow brown, comma, holly blue, speckled wood, orange-tip, small skipper, painted lady, tortoiseshell, dingy skipper - most of which I wouldn't have been able to name or spot the differences between until I saw this list of butterflies. I stood by one of the fields on the site for 20 minutes yesterday and saw tens of butterflies of all different types. Not forgetting moths - I've seen a few on this list. And of course hundreds of other insects including bumblebees, other bees, grasshoppers, native ladybirds, other beetles, various spiders, dragonflies...

Wing-torn peacock butterfly Large skipper butterfly (?)

Birds

Birds of prey often scout the fields and land of the prospective housing development (and visit local gardens too); buzzards, kestrels, kites...along with more common species such as sparrows, tits, robins, starlings etc. to rarer or shier species such as owls, herons, jays, green woodpeckers, great spotted woodpeckers, Canada geese...

Canada geese visit this field every year Young great spotted woodpecker, bullfinch and goldfinch Buzzard/sparrowhawk/kestrel?

Amphibians and Reptiles

Frogs, toads, slow worm, grass snake or smooth snake (?), smooth newt. I haven't seen any but great crested newts have been reported in the area.

Frog

Feel free to share this, add your own comments, and let me know about any errors/corrections.

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