- This consultation has completed. It ran from Wednesday 13th May 2020 to Thursday 14th May 2020
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Details of the representation
To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter in support of the planning application of the erection of a cattle shed (NP/SM/0819/0855) Mixon grange farm, Onecote, Staffordshire.
We recently rejected the condition of an archaeological monitoring survey, not because we are against the monitoring in principle, but the resulting costs of this survey would make the project unaffordable and unviable for the development of the future farming business.
We had hoped to achieve a compromise with the authority to do a pre-determination or sample dig of the suspected rake (advised by archaeologist Robin Holgate of ARS) to ascertain any areas of significance or interest, or limit the monitoring to just the lead rake itself. This was rejected by the authority as Natalie Ward stated the archaeological monitoring should cover the whole excavation site (approx. 2000 sqm). This, I believe seems to be excessive and unreasonable. The potential costs associated with the monitoring would stop the project before it starts. The excavation is intended to be done by ourselves and we estimate this to take around two months, the predicted costs for the monitoring survey consist of;
-written scheme of investigation- Sub-total £300
-archaeological field work; £225 per day (min 60 days) – Sub-total £13,500
-any special analysis £275 per day
-producing a daily report and archive £200 per day (sub-total unknow dependent on time scales)
We can safely presume that the additional cost of this monitoring is going to be in excess of £15,000!
I have requested a copy through my agent Ken Wainman, of the 1960’s photograph the authority are using as evidence; however, the Authority do not have a copy and at the moment it is not possible to get a copy from the Staffordshire Record Office.
Paragraph 30 of the committee report gives the impression that the site is full of archaeological features but having contacted the Staffordshire Record Office I understand that the aerial 1963 photograph in question shows a much wider area, the features mentioned are spread over a large area.
We have managed to source a photograph from July 1963 showing the site, as far as we can see there is no standout features that suggest any archaeological significance
The suspected lead rake is a small area of the site approximately one metre wide running from east to west across the site. There is a stone burr drain lying in the suspected rake probably put in when it was backfilled. To my knowledge the ground across and around the site has been disturbed multiple times since January 1963 when I bought the property. The ground has been ploughed and reseeded, numerous drains laid, water pipes and electric cables have been dug through the rake and an access road was constructed in the early 1970s.
The site was chosen as it is the only suitable, feasible and practical site. Other sites are away from the buildings where the new building would be more prominent, and the ground would need to be built up. The alternative site the authority preferred is the immediate catchment of the water borehole and development there would likely contaminate the water, as well as being next to a converted residential barn and closer to the neighbouring house Mixon Green. The details of each alternative sites were supplied to the authority.
We have made multiple compromises to date, none of which are mentioned in peak park’s write up and we feel this report doesn’t give a true picture of what has been involved in getting to this point over the eight months. The report fails to mention the pressure to re-locate the site on the immediate catchment of the borehole (which supplies the farm and adjoining houses with water)
We have moved the siting of the shed further north to appease issues the authority had with the landscaping impact and agreed to tree planting and landscaping where necessary. The report does not mention the considerable extra costs as a result of Staffordshire county council and the authorities unwillingness to consider a modification of the official line, we have subsequently moved the shed to the east and north further again and agreed to build a retaining wall of 60m long, 2-2.8m high ,to avoid the definitive footpath line (not the actual physical footpath line on the ground) which was recently moved away from where the footpath actually runs on the ground by Staffordshire county council during their update of the definitive map to digital. The additional cost to us is to be in excess of £20,000
Mixon Grange is an upland farm, with continual struggles for sustainability.
I have farmed here since 1963 milking until 1985 when we moved to the current beef suckler herd and sheep system. Since 2003 I have farmed in partnership with my grandson (Mr Jamie Hill) the expansion is of critical importance for his and his young family’s succession of Mixon grange.
Without this cattle shed the farm would suffer severe struggles to survive as the current farming business isn’t sustainable long term without expansion and modernisation. The current infrastructure is old consisting of historic traditional stone buildings and steel framed buildings erected in the 1970’s. The capacity of the current buildings has been reduced over recent years as some have been modified (stalls to straw bedding system) to accommodate modern farming practices and animal welfare standards, this reduces capacity, this also is not possible with all the buildings. The new building would greatly improve productivity and animal welfare thus putting the farming business and the future of the younger generation on a much more firm and sustainable footing.
At end of the day which is more important excavating the entire application site based on a photograph which it would seem that the Authority doesn’t actually possess and which only shows a possible lead rake, or, the farm becoming financially and functionally viable and in turn helping maintain the beauty and landscape of the Park?