A marina project based at Cornhill in Leek will be led by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council after a developer found it to be commercially unviable. The marina was part of an ambitious mixed development on the former industrial land, which would bring housing, employment and leisure units to the town, along with a link road, railway station and the waterside facilities.
A marina project based at Cornhill in Leek will be led by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council after a developer found it to be commercially unviable.
The marina was part of an ambitious mixed development on the former industrial land, which would bring housing, employment and leisure units to the town, along with a link road, railway station and the waterside facilities.
Originally part of a Section 106 agreement between the council and the developer to lock-in community benefit to the development, the cost of the marina could have made the entire scheme unprofitable, putting the project as a whole in jeopardy.
However, at a meeting of SMDC’s planning applications committee on Thursday (May 12), councillors agreed to alter the conditions of the original planning permission from 2015, replacing the requirement to construct the marina, with the right to acquire the land for the building at a nominal fee and a £815,000 contribution towards delivery of the project.
The new conditions are in addition to a £200,000 education contribution agreed as part of the original planning permission.
Julie Arnold from the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust spoke against the changes at the meeting, arguing that the wording within the report still referred to the marina as operating as a commercial enterprise, as opposed to a public open space.
She said: “At Leek the goal is to create a mooring basin accessible to as many as possible – welcome visiting boats, giving access to all to fish, canoe, paddleboard, wheelchair users to use Beatrice and to cycle and stroll through a well-designed green infrastructure link through the new development to the Caldon canal and across the existing aqueduct to the River Churnet. A new waterside for Leek.
“Through partnership, SMDC, the Canal and River Trust and waterway organisations such as ourselves, can devise a scheme, as delivered elsewhere.”
Ryan Macindoe, planning manager for developer Casey said: “The amendments to the 106 agreement maintain the opportunity to deliver the marina.
“We will partner with the council and others to enable its delivery.”
While there were some concerns over the move, in a bid to ensure the entire project could progress, the elected members of the planning committee followed the recommendations of planning officers and unanimously approved the proposals.
Cllr Jim Davies said: “Staffordshire Moorlands had a vision when this scheme was put forward. I would like to see us to maintain this vision and carry out and fulfil this vision.
“I think if we want to keep this vision alive, we need to start looking for money to supplement the £815,000 to complete the marina as soon as possible.
“The council needs to be pretty fleet of foot to try and get the other money together.”
Cllr Bill Cawley added: “The vision that comes to my mind is the canal basin at Etruria where this is that mix of housing and shops. That’s the vision we could be aiming to replicate in some respects.”
New chair of the planning applications committee Cllr Stephen Ellis said: “This project did start out in 2007, actually being led by the late Lionel Richardson.
“A lot of work has been done to look at the whole of that area and there’s probably very few regeneration schemes that pull together so many different aspects – industrial, residential, marina, railway and pub.
“It’s a very unique scheme and it’s fundamental to the future growth of Leek.
“I think we’re all as committed today as we were back then to see the canal come back into Leek.”
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