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Developers "rubbish" Neighbourhood Plan

4th November 2015 @ 6:06am – by Webteam
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A well-attended (about 60 residents) Parish Council meeting on Monday evening was addressed by two representatives of the developers who are seeking to get planning permission for some 65 new homes on the green field site between the canal and the Moorsfield/Tollgate estates.

The representatives were

  • Dan Mitchell of Barton Willmore Town Planning, who claim to be the largest Town Planning consultancy in the UK.
  • Richard Thomas of Bloc whose stated aim is to "work with land, property and infrastructure owners to maximise the value and outputs from real estate" and who have connections with, amongst others, the Canal and River Trust.

The map shown here was presented by the developers as a possible layout of the kind of development they are proposing. The main access would be at the end of Tollgate Drive, with a possible second access at the end of Moorsfield Avenue. Click on the pdf file for more detail

They claimed to have been closely involved with Cheshire East in their attempts to meet the Government imposed targets for growth and housing. These attempts have recently included a revision to Cheshire East's own Local Plan to accommodate revised targets for growth and therefore housing.

They said that the scheme was in the early stages of planning, and that this meeting should be regarded as the first stage in a process of local consultation.

The scheme itself, for about 65 homes, would include various types of dwellings, including bungalows, self-builds and "affordable" properties. The canal frontage would be exploited to provide an attractive setting.

In answer to questions which Audlem residents had sent in,

  • The Neighbourhood Plan does not allow for enough houses to meet Cheshire East's own local plan, and would therefore not be accepted.
  • The land planned for the new development had been surveyed and, while difficult, presented no major problems.
  • Cheshire East are reconsidering the numbers of houses required at the Local Service Centres.
  • Provision of Health Services (I,e, doctors) was nothing to do with them and they would not expect to make any contribution for increasing local capacity.
  • There is no guarantee that this development proposed would be the end of it – the landowner concerned (Della Brookshaw) owns plenty more land adjoining the site proposed.
  • Access to the site will be considered by Cheshire East's own highway engineers who will recommend whether they are acceptable.
  • Audlem is regarded as one of the most, if not the most, sustainable Local Service Centres in Cheshire East, which makes it a top candidate for development.
  • They are not aware of a "warm spring" which Geoff Farr reports might be in the area covered.

Rachel Bailey, (CE ward Councillor and since earlier his year with responsibility for completing the "Local Plan"), told the meeting that recent revisions of the housing allocations for Cheshire East have concentrated on towns in the North of the area such as Knutsford and Poynton, while the targets for Local Service Centres such as Audlem might be increased but not to the extent implied by these applications.

Currently four Neighbourhood Plans have been accepted for evaluation by Cheshire East:- Sandbach, Bunbury, Brereton and Audlem. The Plan for Brereton has gone through the acceptance process and emerged more or less unscathed.

The inspector currently assigned to considering the Neighbourhood Plan for Audlem has been so inundated by objections and legal challenges from potential developers (including, surprise, surprise, Gladman) that extra legal assistance has been allocated. The process of evaluating the Audlem plan is now expected to be completed by the end rather than the middle of November.

Rachel has asked us to make it clear that it is the Cheshire East Local Plan rather than the specific Audlem Neighbourhood Plan that is attracting such a challenge from developers.

In spite of all these pressures, Rachel remains "cautiously optimistic" that the Audlem Neighbourhood Plan will proceed to the next stage.

Editorial Comment

It is ironic that at the same Parish Council meeting, Councillors were formally told about the Cheshire Community Action awards for Community Spirit, Community Pride and Best Kept Village that were recently won by Audlem. These same attributes were quoted as contributing to the Sustainability of the Village, which in turn leads to it becoming a prime target for developers on the grounds of Sustainability.
The phrase "shooting oneself in the foot" springs to mind.
On a separate level, dare we ask whether BLOC is a mnemonic for Blight Lots Of Countryside?

This article is from our news archive. As a result pictures or videos originally associated with it may have been removed and some of the content may no longer be accurate or relevant.

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