‘Protect Cannock Chase’ call as visitor numbers set to soar by three million a year

Cannock Chase “must be protected” it has been claimed as new data reveals visitor numbers are expected to rise by three million a year during the next decade.

Thousands of visitors enjoy the Chase
Thousands of visitors enjoy the Chase

Planning experts in the area have said more than 30,000 new homes will be built within 10 miles of the Chase by 2032.

They insist measures must be put in place to protect the "vulnerable landscape and wildlife" – but critics have said these measures will actually put people off visiting Cannock Chase.

Three-quarters of people currently using the Chase travel fewer than 10 miles and visitor numbers are expected to jump massively when thousands of new homes are built in the coming years.

Up to £7.8 million has been put aside to deliver these future plans, produced by the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation Partnership.

The group wants to improve trails, invest in more signs and interpretation boards, provide conservation education to children and manage where people park.

Criticism

However, the parking management has drawn heavy criticism from some groups. Under the proposals out for consultation, 35 parking areas will be closed and charges applied at another 11.

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.

Frances Beatty, chairman of the AONB joint committee, said: "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.”



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