Let’s be realistic on Copley Valley

Wakefield Road


I write as a resident of Copley who very much values the lovely view over the valley from my home, the walks along the canal and the listed model village. I have attended several meetings, including the recent presentation by the developers, read the documentation and heard the protests from some vociferous local groups.

Please let us be realistic.

Most of the Copley Valley is a mess made by the industrial revolution which routed through it parallel means of transport –roads, two railway lines, canal – and built several bridges unsuitable for modern traffic.

The old sign in front of the toll house opposite St Stephen’s church tells us what kind of traffic used the road in the past.

We are left with a brownfield site containing vestiges of mainly industrial buildings, contaminated land, the remains of a sewage treatment plant and landfill site. It is also a flood plain with very old defences inadequate to current conditions and urgently need updating.

The council cannot afford to do all this. The scheme put forward would result in the immediate clearance of the contamination and the repair and improvement of the infrastructure.

This would be followed by investment in buildings, both commercial and domestic in the valley bottom, which is the price we have to pay for this infrastructure.

Whether or not the “hub” with community facilities would ever materialise is a matter for conjecture.

The proposals for the rest of the development can be addressed as each application is made.

Suffice to say that provided the buildings are not too high they should not impinge on many views. The experts tell us they have solved the flooding problem. That it is deemed a 1 in a 100 years risk does not mean it cannot happen tomorrow, but presumably both developers and buyers will have accepted the risk with their eyes open.

The suggestion that the valley is a nature reserve that can be left to look after itself is not good enough. Much of the site is an overgrown jungle where Japanese knotweed proliferates, people walk their dogs and some race around on bicycles.

All kinds of rubbish from trade waste to domestic is regularly tipped down from Wakefield Road at numerous points or dumped further in. Yes, various species of wildlife live happily in the valley. Nature is infinitely adaptable.

If one habitat is lost they will move on to another. The fittest always survive. The proposal includes protected habitats for the wildlife. It is worth noting that the water was once polluted with industrial effluent. The fish have come back of their own accord to both the river and the canal and a proper fish pass is to be provided on the weir.

So let us be fair to both the council and the developers.

June Paxton-White