Chasewater: prepare for controversy

Chasewater – as I have noted here and on my 365daysofbiking journal – is reawakening now. Refilled in double-quick time by nature, and returning back to rude health, it’s almost as if the whole Dam Works shebang was a distant memory.

Of course, the scars linger; the ecology is still massively depressed, and apart from a few laser-class craft, few watersports or sailing types have yet returned to the place they once called home, which I find a bit sad.

It has been becoming gradually clearer and clearer that Staffordshire County Council won’t be wasting opportunities with Chasewater. Called in to rescue Lichfield District Council from abject technical and financial disaster on the dam project, it’s understandable that now, as they gradually take control, that they want to see a return and maximum use of the the reservoir and country park.

With that in our minds, it’s come to my attention that an application has recently been submitted to Lichfield District Council to construct a wakeboarding corse based between a refurbished pier and dam.

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The location plan of the scheme appears to indicate the pier brought back into use. From documents submitted with the planning application.

The application bears the number 13/00145/FUL, and can be accessed online from Lichfield District Council’s planning service, which is still streets ahead of Walsall’s. If anyone from Walsall Council is reading this, that’s how it’s done, folks.

The application is described as ‘Installation and operation of a straight line cable tow wakeboarding facility and associated works’ and is being made by Wakelake Limited, of Burton on Trent.

Video supplied with planning application of wakeboard equipment in use.

Please read the associated documents, which I link directly to below. Particularly important are the Design and Access Statement, Chasewater Ecology Report and Additional Information.

All links are direct to the documents held on Lichfield District Council’s servers.

I’ve known about the scheme for a few weeks now, and have received several outraged emails about it. I present the information here to allow folks to make up their own minds, and I will cover here, and welcome all shades of opinion, as ever.

Here’s just one communication from an anonymous reader:

Like yourself I have a great passion and respect for Chasewater but I am afraid that as Staffs Have spent the money on the dam they now have no respect for the park, wildlife or ecology they just want to turn it into a profit could this be the new Disney world Brownhills?

They are currently in talks with and planning a commercial venture with a limited company to set up an automatic ski and wake board track that will run 7 days a week from march to October and this has no connection with the existing Ski Club. I have attached some plans and details of what will go before the planning committee this month and is being fully supported by Staffordshire County Council I have a lot more info if this is of interest.

However, I have to say, I’m finding it hard to be surprised or indignant about this: on the whole, I think it’s a good idea. I’m finding it quite difficult to see why this would be as destructive as claimed above, frankly.

Chasewater was only really saved from an  inglorious decline by being a centre for watersports, and here it has an illustrious history. For most of it’s recent life, the lake and it’s ecology have co-existed with water-skiers, windsurfers and sailors. I think we need to accept that whilst we all love the peaceful wildlife haven, it’s also a place of valuable public recreation. It seems right and sensible to expand the facilities to attract punters back.

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Chasewater pier – erected as a monitor tower for speedboat events – has been publicly inaccessible and steadily rotting away for a couple of decades.

The scheme itself would breathe life into the decaying pier, a long-term symbol of the park’s lost past, and is planned for an already publicly disturbed corner of the water, frequented as it is by walkers and cyclists leaving the canal and dam area.

I realise this view won’t be popular, but I think we all have to accept that no one group has sole right to the water or park and we have to share, and in straightened times, anything that pulls folk into Chasewater is a good thing.

I welcome comments or further mail on the subject. What do you think? Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

We live in interesting times.

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15 Responses to Chasewater: prepare for controversy

  1. theaardvark says:

    I agree. Chasewater needs to have a commercial income to survive. It’s unfortunate but it’s a fact. The place is not a natural feature but a man made one that has attracted wildlife. Over time the use to which it’s put will change and the wildlife will change with it.

    Further, I can’t see this feature being used 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 months of the year. There will be long periods when it lies quiet. I wouldn’t imagine the disruption to wildlife to be much more than the water skiing, power boating and jet skiing that used to take place before the recent works.

  2. Dave D says:

    Couldn’t agree more, really would be good to see some investment in Chasewater, just need to make sure everything possible is done to help the wildlife.

  3. Peter says:

    Evening all…….Chasewater is a beautiful place and the surrounding areas help capture that feeling, however the lake has to be used. It is not a good use of the resource to simply look at it, the lake is crying out for activity and a balance has to be struck. If you go out an about and experience other lakes in the Midlands, Carsington lake for example, there is a mixture of wildilife and human activity / enterprise. I hope the planners are sympathetic to both ends of the argument and strike a useful balance. To have nothing happening on the lake would be a waste.
    Mind how you go……

    Peter.

  4. Dave Edwards says:

    Excuse the pun, but I think it would be a dam good thing.

  5. lee slater says:

    I’ll never belgrudge investment in Chasewater in my eyes its very much long overdue. I’ve seen this type of set up in action in Skegness and its great to do and spectate. And if it gets more folks through the gates it can’t be bad at all. But I agree and balance needs to made and I believe that can be done as I’ve seen elsewhere. Is Brownhills about to get a shot in the arm let’s hope so

  6. I’m not opposed. If done well it could attract more people, more business and more local employment opportunities.

  7. RH says:

    Disney by the water – I remember an urban myth (!) when I grew up that a British holiday camp company had once looked at Chasewater as a potential site for an alternative to their seaside, knobbly-knees offerings. Imagine the thought of being told by your parents that you were off to spend two weeks on the North Shore!

  8. Warrington Cuthbert smyth. says:

    This is a must if Chasewater is to develop into even a shadow of its former days.
    Let there be children, let there be fun, let there be happiness, let all sorts of humanity enjoy this asset we have. footfall will bring money, the money will help development of the area. Get the rain soaked muddy walkways repaired. Help bring people to see the steam railway, the anual shows will flourish, maybe the old farmland can be developed for our children to enjoy.
    I say bring it on.

  9. Andy Dennis says:

    Looks a good idea to me. It won’t please everyone, but it would have much less impact than the power boats and in perhaps the least sensitive area for wildlife. The pier has long been an eyesore, so refurbishment and regular use would be beneficial (used to have a lighthouse if I remember correctly).

  10. sabcat says:

    I used to love the pier, spent many hours failing to catch pike off the end with a spinner. Maybe kids in the future will have more luck and catch a wake boarder 😉

  11. DB says:

    This is an awesome idea! Have known for a while about it through connections with ski club and can’t wait for it. I shouldn’t be massively busy as there’s two cables running which means only two people will ski at a time. It’s about time a local cable was set up especially as the over ment is trying to get young kids doing more sports, what letter way than to grab a board and catch some air 😉

  12. Pingback: Chasewater wakes | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  13. Steve windsor says:

    There moaning that the power boaters and sailing people are not returning to this fantastic water sports centre ,Yet they don’t let responsible jet skiers on .
    This could be a great place to bring our jet skis even if it’s only for one day a month..
    They have power boat championships on chasewater they reach speeds of 80 and over
    Jet skiers would bring a great deal of money to this venue and get the place used …
    It’s a shame chasewater is called a watersports centre but isn’t jet skiing a watersports
    We love our sport and a venue like chasewater could benefit from us using it …
    All jet skiers are not crazy mad irresponsible lunatics I agree you will get a bad apple but in every sport even power boating you get the odd idiot ..Having jet skied for over ten years I think as a local resident to this venue we could use it for our sport ,,thank you…

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