Save Cressbrook Dale
The Campaign to Save Cressbrook Dale
-Protecting a unique, fragile landscape from harmful change
- Preserving the right of public access
The integrity and tranquility of our much-loved Derbyshire valley is being threatened by the activities of new land owners. They seek to alter the landscape here in a manner that is completely at odds with its nature, against the protections already in place and in an unsustainable manner. Development here will destroy an irreplaceable and unique landscape that has taken hundreds of years to establish itself. In wrecking the land they also threaten the well-being of the communities that surround and enjoy this incredible landscape as well as those who visit and hold this Dale close to their hearts.
We are not against people wanting to live sustainably and grow their own food. What has confused, concerned and dismayed us is that this group think that Cressbrook Dale - a highly protected, steep sided valley largely covered in Ancient Woodland - is a suitable place in which to do it. In blindly pushing ahead with their plans the group will do irreparable damage to a precious and fragile landscape. And this is at a time when our areas of wilderness are in retreat. We can't stand by and let this happen.
The group have published several prospectuses in order to attract new 'investors'. Each version sees the 'deal' vary slightly but the key points stay the same, not applying for planning permission, farming and camping on the land. Although potential 'investors' are told the land is special they aren't told that is so special that it is highly protected so that it can stay special. This fragile and increasingly rare ecosystem would be destroyed if it were used for camping and producing food. Also no mention is made of how they will deal with ash dieback- a very real threat to the Dale at the moment not to mention a huge liability (see our page on Ash dieback). These potential 'investors' are probably also unaware that because of the legal protections on the land they will be liable to pay large fines should any more illegal development occur. Nor are they told that they don't need to 'invest' to enjoy this landscape as it is in the heart of the Peak District National Park (see our page on National Parks ) and as such EVERYONE is at liberty to walk its footpaths, (see our Maps page) see the flora and fauna and enjoy the peace and serenity of this glorious Dale. The fear is that if nothing is done to stop them NO ONE will be able to do that as what makes it special will have been destroyed.
We have been working hard to save Cressbrook Dale because we #LoveCressbrookDale
To date the following Legal notices have been issued against Rachel Elnaugh, Angela Spink and Keith Parker, named as trustees of the land owned by Phoenix Rose in Cressbrook Dale, as they have ignored the requirement for planning permission and proceeded with engineering works.
16th July 2023 - Planning Contravention Notice
This PCN was issued in respect of the illegal encampment on the top meadow in the dale. It challenges the owners' right to allow someone to live on the site without planning consent. The PCN was also issued to the person occupying the encampment. A response was required by law by 14th August 2023.
6th April 2023 - Enforcement Notice
This Enforcement Notice was issued in respect to the changes made by the group to the landscape in the dale within the Access Land area in the top meadow. It requires the owners to restore the land by removing;
The hardstanding at the entrance to the meadow
The steps on Litton Footpath 13
The paths dug into the surface of the Access Land
The Teepee currently standing on the Access Land
By law the additions to the landscape ( The steps, the hardstanding and the teepee ) must be removed by 22nd August 2023 and the land restored to its original state within 6 months after the 22nd August.
25th July 2022 - Temporary Stop Notice and Planning Contravention Notice
As a result of engineering works in the dale by Phoenix Rose the Peak District National Park Authority issued a TSO and PCN. The purpose of the TSO was to stop all activity then being undertaken by the group, which was deemed likely to be illegal and requiring planning consent. The purpose of the PCN was to solicit from Phoenix Rose a declaration of their plans so that it could be determined if planning consent was required. Despite the legal obligation to respond within three weeks of the issue date the group failed to do so. This PCN is still outstanding.
22nd July 2022 - Emergency Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
Recognising that the ancient woodland within the dale was at risk through unscheduled and illegal development the Peak District National Park Authority issued an Emergency TSO, which extended the existing group TPO to cover virtually all of the woodland in the dale. On the 15th January 2023 the Emergency TSO was made permanent, meaning that all of the woodland owned by Phoenix Rose is now protected by the Cressbrook Dale Group Tree Preservation Order.
It is now illegal to fell any of the trees covered by the Group TPO without a licence from the Forestry Commission. Anyone doing so is committing a crime and can be reported to the police.
Latest Updates in detail - 13th August 2023
Images of the mess left on the site after the departure of the caravan and horsebox, including a blister pack of a controlled substance, with some tablets still in it.
Images of what the illegally occupied site in Cressbrook Dale looked like before being vacated on 11th August 2023. This encampment was immediately adjacent to the public footpath, from which these images were taken.
We are very grateful for the overwhelming public support we have received and we maintain our resolve to protect the land and see it restored to its unspoiled state. It is crossed by Public Footpaths and the vast majority of the land not covered by Ancient woodland is designated as Access Land, where you may roam freely (please refer to the Maps page). Please continue to use, respect and enjoy the dale - don't be put off, it's your privilege and your right.
What we would like you to do
Read through the material on the Resources page.
You'll find a lot of the questions that we have been asked about the Dale on our FAQ page along with our answers to those questions.
Talk about this with your friends and neighbours. People need to know about what is happening in Cressbrook Dale because if allowed to proceed it could happen to something equally precious near you.
Link to this web site from yours.
Share it with your friends on social media (see links at top of page)
Visit the dale, walk its footpaths and enjoy its beauty. It's your right and nobody can take that away from you.
Write to or email your MP (Clickable link).
Write directly to the Peak District National Park Authority;
Thank them their actions to-date. Ask them to issue a further enforcement notice for the toilet tents and the pond. Assure them that they have your gratitude and support. You could also send them your own photographs of the conditions that you find in the dale and an account of your experience.
The case number is 45793
The postal address for this is..
They can also be contacted by email at email@example.com
If you are local;
Write to your local District Councillor expressing your concern and asking them to support and encourage the National Park Authority to stop the development.
Put up posters in your windows or gardens ( Ask us for one or print one the Resources page ).
Help us distribute leaflets. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll arrange for you to receive some.
Join us in any future marshalled events in the village. Contact us on email@example.com to hear more about marshalling events and how you can take part.
...And keep visiting and walking in the dale
Visit the dale, walk its footpaths and enjoy its beauty. It's your right and nobody can take that away from you.
If at any point while you are in the dale you are faced with abusive or aggressive behaviour from anyone else on the land you should report this directly to the police. You can either call them on 101 or you can use the on-line reporting tool, which is here. We recommend using the anti-social behaviour option.
Where you see this sign it means you are entering an area of Access Land. You can walk wherever you like on Access Land
Cressbrook Dale is a beautiful, steeply sided, limestone valley in one of the most beautiful parts of England. It lies between Bakewell and Buxton, in the Peak District National Park. It has an extraordinary Natural History and is dear to the people who live here. It is also a favourite of walkers and holidaymakers. The dale is – or was – an unspoiled area of natural woodland and a refuge for many species of plant and animal, some extremely rare indeed. It is crossed by a number of Public Footpaths, it incorporates an area of Access Land (CROW Act) and all of the woodland is protected by a Group Tree Preservation Order. It borders both Cressbrook Dale National Nature Reserve and Cressbrook Dale Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). The meadow that Phoenix Rose propose to develop also enjoys 'Natural Zone' designation, the most highly protected status within the National Park. Development in the Natural Zone, other than in exceptional circumstances, is not permitted. No exceptional circumstances apply in this case.
To the residents the Dale is a place of calm and beauty in an often troubling world. For many it’s why they chose to live here. For others it’s always been home.
The village of Cressbrook, population ~175 people, lies immediately adjacent to the dale. In June 2022 the villagers woke up to find that a vast swath of the dale had been sold to a group of people led by a one-time TV personality. The group were deliberately opaque about their aims but it’s since become clear that they believe in some kind of food apocalypse, a social breakdown, a “great reset” as it’s been called and a conspiracy by the World Economic Forum. One of their plans is to live and grow food in the woods.
The villagers of Cressbrook and adjacent communities are very worried about the impact that the scheme may have – and is already having – both on this delicate and valuable part of the area’s natural ecology and on our own peace and well-being. Already the group have used an earth-mover on site, a car-park has been built, turf dug up to create a path and make flat areas for structures, water-courses have been altered. There are plans to hold festivals and for camping on the site. One plan included selling off plots of land measuring 8 metres squared at a cost of £8000 making the value of the land approximately half a million pounds an acre. For this the 'investors' were told they would have exclusive rights to the plot and would be able to stay on it whenever they want to. It is important to note that these 'offers' to 'investors' keep changing.
For more information please refer to our FAQ page.
What we are doing about it
Why are we doing this?
The organisations we have been liaising with
Once it became clear that destructive activities were starting to happen in the dale, we began reporting these activities to both Natural England and the Peak District National Park Authority. We have also engaged with a wide range of other bodies who would have in interest in what is happening including;
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Tideswell & District Environmental Group
Peak and Northern Footpaths Society
CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire
The Woodland Trust
The National Trust
Derbyshire Dales District Council
Derbyshire County Council (including the Highways Authority)
The Environment Agency
The Ramblers Association
British Mountaineering Council
Litton Parish Council
Our local MP
Although some of these organisations are only indirectly interested in what is happening in Cressbrook Dale, to all of them it is imperative to avoid a very dangerous precedent being set - The laws that protect such sensitive places like Cressbrook Dale must be seen to work.
We are doing everything we can to help the organisations that implement the law to succeed in their work.
Both the Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England have consulted with the owners to advise them on what they can and can't do in such a sensitive location, what laws they need to observe and what permissions they need to seek before embarking on their activities.
Subsequent to these meetings the owners ignored all of the advice given to them and pushed ahead with groundworks on the site.
The three Phoenix Rose trustees named in the Enforcement Notice, which is a public domain document, are;
The full text of the Enforcement Notice can be read on the Legal Notices page
Although both TPO and TSN were published, issued to the land's trustees and put up on the land at multiple points on the perimeter the owners took them down and have repeatedly taken them down despite them being renewed by the Authority. This is of no matter in a legal sense because the Orders have been issued and apply regardless but it does reinforce the idea that the new owners have no regard for the protections put in place to safeguard the land they now own. To the best of our knowledge the group have not responded to any requests for compliance by the National Park Authority, believing that co-operation lends legitimacy to a process that they don't recognise and reject outright.
National Parks are oases for our flora and fauna and incorporate areas of wilderness for everyone to experience in a way that doesn't threaten their very special qualities. They were fought for by ordinary people for ordinary people to enjoy. The Peak Park, sitting as it does like a green island in the centre of the country, is important for the health and well being of millions of people. If we can't protect Cressbrook Dale, what is the future for our precious and fast diminishing wild spaces? Despite all of the legal notices issued against them, Phoenix Rose continue to ask for money from people, offering them in return opportunities to live, camp in and grow food in the dale.