The Landscape of Chapel-En-Le-Frith Parish

The landscape of the Parish is outstanding in many ways and is valued both nationally and locally.
The Parish of Chapel-en-le-Frith occupies 37 square kilometres of the Dark Peak Area of the Peak District, 20 square kilometres of which lies within the Peak District National Park. The varied landscape of Chapel-en- le-Frith Parish ranges from hills and moorland in the north and to the south of Combs, through gritstone grasslands with hedgerows and dry stone walls, to limestone grassland around Dove Holes in the east.

The town of Chapel-en-le-Frith and many of the smaller settlements in the Parish nestle in green valley meadows and pastures. There are many significant and beautiful areas in and around the settlements of the Parish.

The Parish offers a wide variety of habitats for wildlife, including the internationally rare habitat of blanket bog, upland heath and moorland, gritstone cliffs, steep hillsides with scattered woodland and streams, and rush pastures, ponds, hay meadows and semi-improved grassland on the lower slopes and valley bottoms. This range of habitats supports a wide variety of wildlife including red grouse, curlew, lapwing, brown hare, bats, wildflowers, and many other species on the local Peak District Biodiversity Action Plan list of species of special interest. Local residents, for example, mount toad patrols to protect toads travelling across lanes to and from breeding sites.

There are 12 Derbyshire Wildlife Sites in the Parish and 4 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, including Combs Reservoir, the hay meadows at Lower Peaslows Farm and small parts of the Dark Peak and Castleton SSSIs in the north. Local farmers and landowners have entered a significant proportion of the Parish into various environmental agreements to help support habitats and wildlife. The Parish is also rich in prehistoric monuments and historic field patterns. The National Heritage List for England includes, outside the built-up area, 56 listed buildings, including a remarkable concentration of halls and country houses, and 6 scheduled monuments. Some of the most notable features include the Bull Ring henge monument in Dove Holes and the remains of the Peak Forest Tramway, which include Stodhart Tunnel, one of the earliest railway tunnels in the world.
There is an extensive network of footpaths and fine walks throughout the Parish, many of which are readily accessible by walkers from the town. The character of the local landscape within easy reach of the town is one of the main reasons many local residents give for choosing to live in the Parish.

A recent AMES study4, by Derbyshire County Council, considered historic, ecological and visual sensitivity and showed that the landscape around Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish is some of the most sensitive to development in the whole of Derbyshire and the High Peak. From responses to the Chapel Vision survey and public consultations, areas of landscape that are particularly special to local people – which they want protected for their character, tranquillity, wildlife, views and walks5 – were identified.

The areas identified by local people are mainly within the area of the Parish that was designated as valley pasture in the Peak National Park Authority’s landscape character assessment. They form a highly visible part of the setting of the National Park. They also lie largely within the area of primary sensitivity identified by the AMES study.

Consideration of the above areas, along with the area of Primary Sensitivity identified by the AMES study and the Special Landscape Areas previously established by High Peak Borough Council, shows that virtually all of the countryside in the Parish outside the built-up areas and outside the Peak District National Park has been specifically identified as special by local people or by independent expert opinion. This is shown in the Special Landscape Area Map Figure 3, page 32. This is consistent with the views of the very large proportion (83%) of local people who indicated that they wanted to protect the whole of the area outside the built-up area from development. The hatched area on the Special Landscape plan indicates areas that residents would like to be given enhanced protection within the Special Landscape Area.

4 Methodology to Identify ‘Areas of Multiple Environmental Sensitivity’ (AMES), Derbyshire County Council, Environmental Services Department, Conservation and Design Section, 2011.

5 Areas of landscape special to local people in Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish, Chapel Vision Countryside Group, Evidence
Document 1, July 2013.

The adopted Landscape Strategy of the Peak District National Park purposely covers landscape areas across the National Park boundary in order to highlight the flow and consistency of the landscape quality and to assist the planning and the management of the wider Peak District landscape. The particular landscape character types around Chapel-en-le-Frith include Valley Pastures with Industry, Enclosed Gritstone Upland and Slopes and Valleys with Woodland. These landscape types provide a flow of landscape quality across the entire parish.

Therefore the Parish as a whole is characterised by outstanding landscape quality, some of which is valued and established as being of national importance and others which are now recognised and identified as having local value and importance.

For the purposes of this Plan the whole of the area within the Parish which is outside the current built-up area and outside the Peak District National Park is defined here as Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Special Landscape Area.