An Open Letter To Potential Investors

An open letter from the community and neighbours of Cressbrook to people considering investing in the Cressbrook Dale Estate Private Members Association (CDPMA)

Dear would-be investor/group member,

This is a brief letter from the Save Cressbrook Dale Campaign to anyone who might be considering investing in or joining the Phoenix Rose Cressbrook Dale Estate project. It is written in a spirit of openness and we would welcome further conversations with any party genuinely interested in constructive dialogue.

We believe that implementing the stated plans of the group would be, in the main, illegal and also very difficult to achieve in any practical sense on the land purchased. In addition, the group’s plan includes risks and liabilities to investors that are not described in any of their recruiting material. Here are five major points illustrating this. There are many more that can be found detailed in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this, the website.

1. Cressbrook Dale is one of the most protected landscapes in the country. Because of its highly unusual and precious ecosystem it is designated as part of the “Natural Zone”, which represents the wildest and least developed parts of the National Park. Natural Zones combine high wildlife value and minimal obvious human influence. Any change of use of the land in the Natural Zone requires planning approval. The National Park Development Plan states that, other than in exceptional circumstances, planning applications for the development of land in the Natural Zone will not be permitted. The only exceptional circumstances allowed are essential developments for the management of the Natural Zone or for the conservation or enhancement of the National Park’s valued characteristics. Developments that only serve to only make the land more manageable or more accessible are not regarded as essential. Additionally, the presence of a SSSI on it's boundary mean that all of the land owned by Phoenix Rose lies within Natural England’s ‘Observation Zones’. There is also a Group Tree Preservation Order covering all the wooded areas of the purchased land.

2. Phoenix Rose is already in substantial contravention of planning law for the unlawful construction of a car park, a teepee, gravel path and some steps on the Access Land. The Peak District National Park, the local Planning Authority, has issued an Enforcement Notice about these developments and it clearly indicates there are no exceptional circumstances in this case and requires the removal of the developments and reinstatement of the damaged areas. Phoenix Rose have failed to comply with the Enforcement Notice by the published deadline meaning that prosecution and substantial fines are highly likely to follow. Your investment would therefore be in danger of bankrolling the group’s existing illegal actions and any financial penalties those actions attract.

3. Ownership of the land in the Dale also carries substantial liabilities against harm or damage caused by falling trees. The current onset of Ash Dieback Disease means that many of the trees in the Dale will sadly be likely to die and fall in the next few years. The landowner - Phoenix Rose - has a legal duty to minimise the risk posed by dangerous trees to anyone passing through the land whether by the adjacent public road, on the many public footpaths that cross the land or on the Access Land within it.

4. Some of the plans of the group include growing food crops on the land. The only non-wooded area in the Cressbrook Dale Estate, the Access Land, is designated Grade 5 by DEFRA – the poorest quality land on their scale. It is a steep and rocky meadow, unsuited to any cultivation, which is why it hasn’t ever been used for growing food. Furthermore, any attempt at cultivation here would constitute a change of use and would require Planning Permission (see Point 1 above) and an Environment Impact Assessment (EAI).

5. Similarly, the offer to investors made by Phoenix Rose includes the promise of the unrestricted right to stay on the land in temporary or moveable structures as part of a community. This, again, would require planning consent (see Point 1 above). Phoenix Rose therefore cannot honour this promise to their investors. In fact, the founders have repeatedly stated they will not apply for any planning permissions despite the obvious fact that the fundamental elements of their plans do require planning approval. Phoenix Rose completed the purchase in June 2022 and as yet there is no community in the Dale. You may wish to ask yourself why this is.

Our village community encompasses many beliefs and lifestyles. We have no objection to the idea of an eco-community farm or the celebration of nature but it is clear that the founders of Phoenix Rose made a serious error in buying a piece of land on which the main elements of their project are prohibited. Phoenix Rose claims to be strongly respectful of nature yet their actions and future proposals do nothing but damage to the rare and delicate ecology of the Dale. Whatever your views on the legitimacy of the ‘Authorities’, by choosing the Dale as the venue for their plans Phoenix Rose have chosen a place where these plans have been met by implacable legal and community resistance. There are plenty of places where the group’s plans can be manifested but Cressbrook Dale is not one of them. This is why we still oppose the plans and will continue to do so in the strongest terms.

Thank you for reading this letter. If you would like any additional information not covered on the website, or would like to discuss the situation further in a constructive manner, please email us at

Yours sincerely,

Save Cressbrook Dale Campaign