Cheshire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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District news : Spring 2017

A round-up of news from our District Groups around Cheshire.

Chester District

A planning application has been submitted for a new primary school on Saighton Playing Fields which is in the Green Belt. This application follows the permission for additional houses to be built on the former large brownfield Saighton Camp instead of including the primary school within the site. Planning applications for sites in the Green Belt have recently been submitted to demolish farm buildings no longer in farm use and replace them with new build housing. An application for an apartment building for affordable homes on the Troopers Field would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt and would lead to the coalescence of Chester and the village of Christleton.

The remaining vacant plots on the Chester Business Park may be taken up by a recently submitted planning application Local Plan policy to retain the Parkland setting of the Green Belt Chester Business Park must be retained.

Macclesfield District

Macclesfield Rugby Club has recently applied for planning permission to build 76 houses in Green Belt land on the rugby club site. CPRE will monitor this application. Paul Webster, who has been invaluable in his work for CPRE in the Knutsford area, has now stepped down from the Planning Committee owing to ill health. We would like to record our thanks to Paul for the expertise and enthusiasm he has brought to the committee over the past four years.

Trafford District

Trafford District is very concerned about proposals in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which, if approved, will see land allocated for 22,720 new homes in Trafford, including large developments on greenfield and Green Belt land. The GM Spatial Framework is a joint plan drawn up by the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, including Trafford Council, to identify strategic sites for housing and employment up to 2035. The first phase of consultation closed in January, and the final proposals will be published later this year with a view to adoption in 2018.

Of particular concern to Trafford District are plans for the development in South Trafford of the so-called Timperley Wedge (pictured), which incorporates greenfield and Green Belt land. Here it is proposed to build 3,300 houses and 50,000m² of employment space between Timperley, Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe Hospital. Elsewhere in Trafford substantial building is proposed at Flixton and Carrington.

Trafford District also opposes proposals to remove Green Belt designation of land to the east and west of the A556 near the M56 and the Bowdon roundabout. This is within the Cheshire East boundary but adjacent to Trafford. Tatton Estates have proposed future developments on this land including a warehouse and distribution park, and a science and technology park, which we think are inappropriate for this location.

Campaigns are under way to oppose the loss of Green Belt at the Timperley Wedge and Flixton, and a Greater Manchester-wide demonstration by many concerned groups against the loss of Green Belt land in the county is planned for 1 April in Manchester.

Rosemary Hurley, Trafford District CPRE

Warrington District

Planning Policy: Warrington Borough Council are now processing the responses to last year’s Local Plan Review Consultation and Call for Sites. Their Preferred Options are expected to be published in May/June for further consultation. One of the issues raised was the inadequacy of infrastructure for new developments, also a Green Belt Review.

Greenfield sites. Land at Peel Hall had been refused planning permission and one of the three areas of Homes and Communities land has been given planning permission.

HS2 Residents, Councillors and MPs continue to oppose the “Golborne Link”. A recent proposal to remove the Golborne Depot is an improvement as trains would no longer be travelling along the line from Manchester late at night. The Northern Chord of the Delta Junction would be removed as it would not be needed.

There is also an issue of unstable land in the area of that junction because of brine extraction. This is in addition to general concerns about instability due to mossland, historic landfill sites, former coal mines and major pipelines. Ecological studies on the route start in March, and engineers will be on the ground later in the year.

Varied proposals for HS3 continue to appear, it is difficult to keep track.
In Lancashire to our North, there is strong opposition to proposals for logistics developments in the Green Belt along the M6. We liaise with Lancashire CPRE.

The prices for the New and Old Mersey crossings have been publicised thus ensuring the likelihood of vehicles using the Thelwall Viaduct to cross the Mersey instead. This will add to congestion in our town and on the M6.

Jacqui Johnson, Warrington District

The Wirral Society

The Wirral Society covers the peninsula of The Wirral on behalf of CPRE. This gives us two Council areas to be involved with. There is Wirral Borough to the north and east (WMBC) and Cheshire West and Chester (CW&C) covering the south and west, the area formerly covered by Ellesmere Port and Neston.

WMBC decided (without a public vote) to join the emerging Liverpool City Region (LCR). In May those of us in the WMBC area will have the “opportunity” to vote for a Liverpool Metro Mayor. Whilst this is still in the future we do know that the Metro Mayor, when established, is likely to be the final arbiter on Planning matters (amongst many other powers). A significant concentration of power.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council area

Hoylake Golf Resort : Despite mounting opposition, the Council, whilst closing Social Services due to lack of funds, has found £600,000 to “spend” researching the proposed site for wildlife, drainage etc ..etc.. This is a cost normally taken on by the developer and we see this as doubt in the success of the “scheme”. The Wirral Society remains totally opposed to this “Vanity” scheme that has rumbled on for some 15 years now at a cost to the taxpayer that can only be guessed at.

Local Plan and SHMA / SHLAA : The Council have been consulting on possible development sites, this is to meet the supposed “need” for housing. The latest figure appears to be a need for 1,000 new homes per year required by the Conservative government. This is several times the numbers previously considered. This does seem excessively “optimistic”. The Local Plan is still many months away.

Council Leaders’ Support of the Green Belt : Despite promoting the 200 new homes on the Green Belt at Hoylake as “Enabling Development” for the “Vanity” Hoylake Golf Resort, the majority party on the Council is now stating that the Green Belt will be defended. Whilst we welcome this stance we remain confused as the Hoylake Golf Resort (and other plans) are the greatest current threats to the Green Belt on The Wirral!

New Fire Station at Saughall Massie : The Council’s Planning Committee very narrowly rejected the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s (MFRA) application to move the Fire Station at Upton a mile down the road to Saughall Massie. This has resulted in some “very upset” comments from the Authority. The latest we have heard is that they will probably raise an Appeal and submit a new Application. North-West Wirral has been served just by the Upton Fire Station for the last two years. It is increasingly difficult to appreciate what ‘Very Special Circumstances’ the MFRA feel they can present. For an Authority claiming to be suffering from excessive “cuts” they seem well enough funded to pursue their Fire Station dream.

Thornton Hough : We have just learned of a new proposal to develop Green Belt land at Thornton Hough for sheltered accommodation for the elderly. The developers are consulting with the local population and as yet no application has been made. We have to wonder what ‘Very Special Circumstances’ they can provide to overturn the Green Belt status of the site, especially now the Council Leader had affirmed his commitment to protecting the Green Belt!

Cheshire West & Chester Council

Local Plans : The CW&C Local plan continues to be developed, without the issues over house numbers “needed” that has arisen in WMBC. A Neighbourhood Plan is being enacted by the Neston Town group.

New Builds :  Redrow builders continue to develop their 2,000 house housing estate on what was top grade farmland. Show houses are up and apparently selling.

T Neil Parry, Green Belt Coordinator, The Wirral Society

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Misty sunrise over the Trent and Mersey Canal, Middlewich