Villagers' lives 'turned upside down' by walkers parking on their Staffordshire road

Residents of a quiet Staffordshire street have had their lives "turned upside down" by walkers using their street to park when visiting a nearby green, a villager has claimed.

Vehicles parked along Church Lane Derrington On February 21 2021. Image courtesy of Keith Jacques
Vehicles parked along Church Lane Derrington On February 21 2021. Image courtesy of Keith Jacques

Keith Jacques says the local council has failed in its duty to provide enough parking for Derrington Millennium Green in Derrington, near Stafford.

Plans for the green were passed by Stafford Borough Council more than 20 years ago and the council says there is no planning action it can take to resolve the parking issue.

Visitors travelling to the open space by car were able to park at a village pub and there was also some disabled parking facilities available at the site.

But the Red Lion car park was lost when the pub closed more than five years ago.

Since then residents of Church Lane and Meadow Lane have faced, on a bad day, more than 30 cars “parking in the street outside houses causing continual noise and disturbance” according to Mr Jacques.

He has been in contact with trustees of the green, members of the borough council and Seighford Parish Council, as well as a local farmer, in a bid to resolve the parking problems.

But Mr Jacques, of Church Lane, says a lack of action has forced him to make a formal complaint to Stafford Borough Council.

He said: “SBC failed in its duty of care to ensure (a) permanent parking facility was available, either in the site curtilage or off street location close to the development. In 2015 when the Red Lion car park facility was lost no action was taken to provide a replacement.

“Traffic build up and parking in the streets of Derrington has become an intolerable nuisance to residents, particularly in the green access road.

“In August 2020 a local farmer offered to rent the edge of his fruit field to provide a parking space for visitors. This is the perfect solution to the issue for the whole village, not just Church Lane. But neither our councillors nor the green trustees have approached (the farmer).

“Seighford Parish Council have been very supportive of our issue and have stated at numerous meetings that the developer has the duty to provide parking for its visitors and that SBC have a duty of care to ensure parking standards are met. The residents thank them greatly for their support.

“Our lifestyle in Church Lane has been turned upside down by the influx of visitor traffic in the last four years. Church Lane is not a car park.”

Stafford Borough Council has said that car parking provision related to the proposal never formed part of the site covered by the planning application. And the highways authority did not raise any objection to the proposals or request any conditions related to parking at the time.

Michelle Smith, economic growth and strategic projects manager at the borough council, said to Mr Jacques: “Whilst an informal arrangement was in place to allow visitors to the green to use the pub car park this was not tied to the planning permission for the green. As such when the pub car park was redeveloped and this option was no longer available it could not constitute a breach of planning control.

“I have raised the issue with Staffordshire County Council, as the local highway authority, on your behalf. I was advised by Mark Keeling, Strategic Community Infrastructure Manager, in early December that he had met with you some months previously, along with Local Highway Officer Diane Firkins and Councillors (Mark) Winnington and (Ray) Sutherland to discuss the issue of regular visitor car parking taking place on Church Lane and the area down towards Millennium Green and the potential for parking restrictions.

“Mark Keeling has advised that as a result of the meeting it was agreed that the situation would be monitored as there were no current plans to introduce parking restrictions to that area, but that this would be reviewed along with other similar requests within the new financial year. As the new financial year begins in April 2021 it may be worth contacting Mark again in April to understand next steps.

“I appreciate how frustrating and concerning the parking issues must be for you and your neighbours but in planning terms there is no action that we as a borough council can take. Hopefully your discussions with the county council will move forward positively and if the borough can advise in discussions with the trust from a planning point of view we’re more than happy to do so.”

The Derrington Millennium Green website informs visitors that there are limited car park spaces available and advises them to walk or cycle to the site. Those travelling in by car are advised to park at Castlefields Car Park on Martin Drive, Stafford, which is 1.2 miles away, or Haughton’s Greenway Car Park, which is 2.2 miles away, and cycle or walk along the greenway to the Derrington Green.

A spokesman for the trust said work had been taking place to increase car parking space available. It was not just visitors to the green parking along the streets, he added, but families visiting the nearby play area, recreational field and Duddas Wood. And some parking in the streets were unable to walk from alternative parking areas.

The spokesman added: “We are very keen to resolve the situation but we just don’t know how. We want to increase parking and we have increased it somewhat. We are hoping to put some more in.

“We had to put a lot of paths on there for disabled access but we can’t put any more hardstanding on.

“There was a request to buy a car park outside the village but there are concerns that if it is outside the village no-one is keeping an eye on it and there are some people who litter. Someone would have to close the gate and (the proposed site) is by the brow of a hill – it could possibly cause an accident.”

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