Frequently asked questions.
We have compiled a list of answers to the questions that we get asked most often;
Q: Who are the new owners?
A: A group called 'Phoenix Rose', who claim to be part of a new Freedom Movement, apparently led by one-time celebrity Rachel Elnaugh. They have raised money through a closed crowd-funding scheme via Rachel Elnaugh's website, open only to followers who had to 'invest' a minimum of £20,000. For this they are promised the right to live on and work the land. These 'investors' are controlled by Phoenix Rose. We don't know if any of the members of Phoenix Rose have invested any money. Some of these original 'investors' have now left and the nature of the offer made available to potential new 'investors' changes regularly.
Q: Why 'Phoenix Rose'?
A: Apparently Phoenix is a name commonly used by people whose past enterprises have failed- as in a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Q: What do they intend to do on the land?
A: We don't know. Sometimes they say they are establishing a self-sustaining, post food apocalypse eco-community. At other times they refer to it as a working farm. They also suggest a food forest, forest bathing, shamanic retreats... Their initial business plan included nearly £100,000 capital expenditure on moveable structures (apparently intended to evade planning restrictions) as well as wind and solar power installations. The 'solar' proposal has been restated as well as hydro. None of this can be done without planning permission.
Q: Why didn't someone else buy the land?
A: It was a private arrangement made between the seller - Stanton Estates - and the buyer. The land was not for sale on the open market and never has been.
Q: So were the people in the village given the chance to buy the land ?
A: No. The new owner of Cressbrook Hall was offered it and Natural England were offered the SSSI part but that's all. The village were not aware that it was available to be bought and they were never approached. Had they been then the offer would have been taken up because some of the land is immediately adjacent to the properties in the village.
Q: What can I do?
A: There is a 'What we would like you to do' section on the front page of this web site. Please have a read. Of course, we're always open to suggestions as well.
Q: Doesn't the Peak Park own all of the land?
A: No, the vast majority of the land in the Peak District National Park is owned by private landowners. The reason that it looks so beautiful is that most landowners abide by the regulations set out to protect it. Unfortunately that isn't the case with the new owners of the 72 acres of land in and around Cressbrook.
Q: Why shouldn't they be allowed to farm the land?
A: In order to grow food they would need to seriously improve the soil in the 20 acres not covered by trees. The soil is thin and is ideal for the wildflowers that are already abundant on it and that is reflected in the level of legal protection that the land already enjoys. Only a small amount of research on their part would have shown them just how unsuitable this land is for growing food. The remainder of the land is ancient woodland and is protected by a Tree Preservation Order. There can be no change of use without planning permission. Permission that will not be granted on this land.
Q: Is this a cult?
A: We don't know, but we do know that the invitation to invest was only open to those who adhere to and agree to their ethos, which is published in the members agreement. We know that the group has strong and unusual beliefs which are expressed through the various on-line channels that Rachel Elnaugh uses. These can be found using any good search engine.
Q: Is this a scam?
A: We don't know, but we do know from their prospectus that 'investors' appear to have very little say in what is done with the land but all of the liability should fines and penalties be incurred. All of the land is heavily protected and nothing can be done on it without planning permission. The group's proposals to potential investors include features (like solar and hydro) that can never be legally delivered on without planning permission.
Q: I invested in this scheme but have now withdrawn from it. How can I help stop others from being misled about it as I was?
A: We are also concerned about people being persuaded to part with large sums of money on the basis of a promise that cannot be fulfilled. Please get in touch with us. Hopefully, by working together, we can prevent other people from committing their savings to a project which is doomed to failure.
Q: Are there toilet facilities on the land?
A: No. Two toilet tents, enclosing moveable compost toilets have been erected. Rachel Elnaugh confessed on a video that she had removed the contents and put them in her own waste bin at home. Another suspected bag of toilet waste was found partially buried in the woods. Waste from compost toilets should not be buried here as the bedrock is limestone which is permeable meaning the waste would find its way into the water system.
Q: Are they eco-warriors?
A: No. They have already put three lorry loads of gravel and plastic matting on the land to create a car park. They are the opposite of eco-warriors.
Q: How do you feel about having to use plastic signs for your campaign?
A: It is regrettable and we wouldn't be using them if the dale weren't in danger. We needed a waterproof and durable material. Hopefully we won't have to re use them, i.e. save the dale again, and are planning to re-purpose them in a community arts project.
Q: Did you make the 'Hate Rachel Dale' flyers?
A: Absolutely not. It is very clear from the tone of the flyer that it is not the product of our campaign or from anyone within the village of Cressbrook.
Q: If not your campaign, then who?
A: The 'Hate Rachel Dale' flyers appeared on cars in the village on Saturday 17th September 2022. At the same time, Rachel Elnaugh announced on her Telegram channel that the 'village' had created these. Rachel Elnaugh's son was observed placing the flyers on village residents' cars and Rachel Elnaugh gave one of these flyers to a passerby in front of our marshals. It therefore seems very likely that Rachel Elnaugh is the author.
Q: Are they conspiracy theorists?
A: If you search for Rachel Elnaugh, their self-appointed leader, using a search engine on the internet you will see that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Rachel Elnaugh is a conspiracy theorist. Amongst other things, apparently those of us who thought we'd been vaccinated have in actual fact had a chip inserted and the poisoned vaccinations are intended to cause genocide in order to depopulate the planet- which seems like a waste of a chip.
Q: Did they help with the Cressbrook well dressing?
A: No, They did not. They did however appropriate an image of the well dressing - and continue to appropriate it - without seeking the permission of the artist for their marketing material, using the phrase 'Cressbrook Welcomes Everyone' to make it look as if they'd formed good relations in the village. This was definitely not the case. When her ideas about creating a food forest were challenged Rachel Elnaugh posted the following on the village Facebook page:
'This is war, forget Rwanda, forget Ukraine'
This is a great shame. Because of their duplicity and animosity we are now much less trusting of people we see in the village than we were before. However the support we've had for our campaign has gone some way to restoring our faith in human nature.
Q: Did Rachel Elnaugh write 'Behind the View'?
A: No. She did not. She did, however, appropriate this award winning community produced book in one of her marketing videos despite the clearly asserted copyright of the authors on Page 4 of the book.
Q: Did Phoenix Rose renovate Solly's Seat?
A: No. They did not. They simply tidied it up. Roughly ten years ago, after an intervention from Cressbrook's Parish councillor and a representative of the Peak Park, Stanton Estates, on whose land it lay, repaired and renovated it. It is a much loved historical monument in the village. Following the renovation, one of the villagers kept it weed free so that visitors and locals alike could benefit from a welcome break part way up the hill - just like hundreds of mill workers had done before them. Sadly this dear and much missed friend and neighbour died during the pandemic. Solly's Seat is now under the ownership of Pheonix Rose who did a bit of weeding and are now using it for marketing purposes.
Q: Are there any locals involved in Phoenix Rose project?
A: There’s no-one from Cressbrook involved in Phoenix Rose. We are not sure who all the 'investors' are as, for some unknown reason, some of them have used pseudonyms. Potential 'investors' were sent promotional material which specifically instructed them not to share the information with people in the village. Once the 'investment' opportunity was discovered by the people in the village they were unanimous in condemning it, as has been the case with everyone else we've spoken to from the local area.
Q: What is your role in all of this?
A: Because of the current owners' continued failure to comprehend and recognise the natural value of the asset under their control we are driven to defend it. We will continue to monitor, report and campaign for as long as it takes to ensure that the land is in safe hands.
Q: Are you worried?
A: Yes. We are worried - as are the many people from surrounding villages and also the many tourists, walkers and cyclists we've spoken to. The fact that the group’s self appointed leader has publicly stated that they do not recognise, and are not subject to, this country’s legal system is, among many other things, very worrying.
We need your support.