Cowdale factory rejected despite ‘clear benefits’

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to redevelop Cowdale Quarry have been rejected because of the impact the scheme would have on the relics of the site’s industrial past.

An application by Express Park Buxton Ltd to construct a new water bottling plant, create a new access road from the A6, internal roads and a visitor heritage centre, was turned down by High Peak Borough Council’s (HPBC) Development Control Committee.

The applicants argued there was no alternative site available and the development would bring investment and jobs into the local area.

An appeal against HPBC’s decision was heard at a public inquiry held over eight days in June and a further three days in September.

Inspector John Gray, who dismissed the appeal, said: “The economic and social roles offer clear benefits – major inward investment, a boost to the local economy and perhaps as many as 100 new jobs (as well as the construction jobs in a £10 million contract).

“Those must carry significant weight. Also, the proposal is sustainable in that it would exploit a natural and wholly renewable resource of a type that is limited, numerically and geographically, in the UK.

“In the end, however, it is the harm that would be caused to the scheduled monument that tips the balance against the proposed development.

“An important piece of cultural heritage would be seriously damaged by the sheer scale of the excavations required for the proposed access road.”

The site was designated a scheduled ancient monument in October 2011 and is one of only five sites recognised as having outstanding national importance.

Cllr Godfrey Claff, HPBC’s executive member for regeneration, said: “I am pleased that the inspector agreed with the council’s decision and I would like to thank the hard work done by officers and our legal advisors to present the best case possible in support of the council’s position.”