Cannock Chase parking charge plan to cost nearly £8 million
A plan to close car parks, introduce parking charges and manage Cannock Chase over the coming years is expected to cost nearly £8 million, it has emerged.
Officials say the move is designed to protect wildlife and habitats across the Chase, but critics say it will put some people off visiting the beauty spot.
A report drawn up on the future of the 30 sq mile site shows that introducing the parking changes, "engagement with the public" around the need for them and future management for the Chase over the next 20 years will cost £7.8m.
The masterplan, revealed by the Express & Star last week, is being proposed by the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation Partnership (SAC), which includes many of the borough and district authorities of Staffordshire, as well as the county council, although the latter is not a voting member.
It is understood all of the cash will come from housing developers through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which sees money put back into communities by house builders in return for planning permission. Only £1.1m has been allocated so far but leaders say they their projections are based on homes due to be built in the coming years.
Laybys and pull-in areas routinely used by dog walkers, cyclists, runners and other visitors are set to be closed off. Officials say the aim is to reduce areas where cars are parked to protect the Chase but there are concerns some families won't visit if they have to pay to park.
The report said: "This will have the benefit of reducing the overall number of parking locations with only a very small reduction in the number of car parks spaces (and considered with car park additions, an overall result net increase in parking spaces).
"Many of the small pull-ins and laybys have litter issues and the surfacing is in a very poor condition."
An SAC spokesman said: "The work of the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation Partnership is dedicated to how we can preserve and improve Cannock Chase for both people and wildlife and to ensure this national important landscape will remain for everyone forever.
"The Partnership expect visitor numbers will increase so we need to have plans that protect this area."
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