November 25, 2008 | matt
From The Sentinel, 25 November 2008:
A heritage country park on the site of a coalfield has been given the green light by planners.
The development of Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, near Fegg Hayes, has been approved by Stoke-on-Trent City Council's development control committee.
Applicant Birse Civils Limited, the engineering division of Balfour Beatty, will complete the work with bridge constructions, waterway diversions and landscaping.
The project is part of a master plan for the mine, which was the most productive of its kind in Europe in the 1930s.
Councillors were concerned about contamination of the land and securing bridle paths for horses, but conditions have been added to the approval to clear up these points. Work is scheduled to begin in summer 2009.
Planning committee vice-chairman councillor Ross Irving said: "This is going to be an outstanding country park when it is completed but you do not make omelettes without breaking eggs.
"There is going to be some disturbance, but when finished it will be a wonderful habitat."
The £8 million for the development is coming from the National Coalfield Programme, which is closing in 2011.
Many of the paths in the park are used by horse riders, but are not official bridle routes. Councillors have placed a condition on the approval to make the new bridge and paths suitable for horses. Dust monitoring will also be carried out to keep track of contamination created by any movement of coal under the soil.
Due to the former use of the site, spoil has deposited in two man-made heaps. The first dominates the site and is approximately 60-metres high and will be regraded to make it suitable for disabled people. The slopes will also be landscaped and a large viewing platform built at the top with boards to explain the view.