New plans to manage Dove Stone announced

A new action plan for managing the numbers of visitors to Dove Stone reservoir will bring “much needed relief” for local residents, it is hoped.

The proposals were outlined at a summit meeting attended by local residents and representatives, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams and the main agencies who run the site – United Utilities, the RSPB and Oldham Council.

Partners agreed that their goal, as summarised by the MP, is to work towards a ‘community led visitor strategy’.

Electronic signage, CCTV and modified car parking charges could all be part of the solution in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, inconsiderate parking and increased littering.

Over the next few months the ideas that are to be actioned include:
• The use of marshals on certain weekends to manage traffic and parking
• An independent traffic/parking/highways assessment to inform future ideas
• Increased voluntary involvement in site management & visitor surveys
• A new local residents forum to continue dialogue and gain feedback into the strategy
• Social media campaigns to highlight the traffic and parking issues on site

Longer term, the Dove Stone partnership has committed to exploring further options including:
• A real time app or web link showing car park capacity
• Modifications to the toilet block with improved facilities
• ANPR options at key entrances linked to opening times
• A Park and Ride facility
• Funding or grant options to support the additional management costs

Ross Evans is Estates and Land Manager at United Utilities and he commented on behalf of the Dove Stone partnership: “The site has become increasingly popular this year as people rediscover the scenery on their doorstep when so many of their usual events or leisure activities have been cancelled. While we never promote the site, the sheer numbers of visitors have caused real problems for those who live locally, and that’s why we committed to developing a sustainable management plan for the future.

“We’ve worked hard to come up with the right solutions for the site and I’m grateful for the support and involvement of local residents and their MP.  This is an ongoing collaboration and we hope that as our action plan is put in place it will bring much needed relief to those who live in and around Dove Stone.”

Debbie Abrahams MP said: “I was delighted to co-ordinate a follow up meeting of key stakeholders, community representatives and residents regarding a new visitors’ strategy for Dovestone. A number of proposals were presented to the group by United Utilities on behalf of the various organisations following an initial discussion with community groups on the site.

“We agreed that wider community engagement is needed to help prioritise action and that this will follow an independent traffic assessment in the New Year. There are various hurdles to overcome including how we fund the final action plan, but there was a very constructive and co-operative approach in the group which was really positive and I’d like to thank everyone involved for this. Clearly we won’t be able to resolve everything overnight, but there’s a real willingness from local people and partners and that’s a great start. I look forward to reviewing progress next February.”

Resident and Chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association, Andrew Taylor said:
“I was very heartened by the strategic approach and wide-ranging list of possible measures, associated with the possibility of a resident forum to enhance cooperation. As every resident, I hope for the quickest timescale and most generous funding whilst understanding the realities of what must be a large coordinated project with resilience and longevity.”