Cheshire East planners recommend two refusals

Applications for additional parking at Select Property Group’s Alderley Edge headquarters and housing in Congleton are to go before the local authority’s northern planning committee next Wednesday with recommendations for refusal.

Select’s offices, branded as The Box, are at Horseshoe Lane, close to Wilmslow Road on the northern edge of Alderley village, in converted farm buildings. The business, which includes Vita Student, CitySuites and Affinity Living, is seeking to insert an infill in between two buildings to act as a reception, a proposal planners are happy with.

The issue for officers is the additional parking proposed by Select, for which Eden Planning is acting as agent. The site currently has 58 parking spaces, 48 of them on the northern end of the site between the railway and the astroturf pitches at the Ryleys School.

Select’s wish is for around 60 additional spaces: 14 either side of the new access road, a handful on space created by the development work, and the remainder on the plot between the company office and Wilmslow Road, currently used for temporary parking.

Calderpeel has designed the building element of the scheme, working alongside landscape design practice Planit-IE.

Although Horseshoe Lane has historically been the access point for the site, a 2016 consent was given for a new access road from Wilmslow Road.

Documents submitted said: “Once the current construction works and formal landscaping has been completed the site will have the appearance of a formal entrance for a head office facility set within an attractive parkland setting,” adding that the character of the site will have changed from its former agricultural use.

Two public consultation sessions have been held regarding the plans, with feedback described as “overwhelmingly positive”. Neighbours have been updated, with a May letter informing them of the consent secured for a hedge and gate for the site, and the slight reduction in overall size of this project.

Noting the site’s green belt status, it is pointed out by the applicant that ti believes “very special circumstances” apply – Select is a large employer locally, and intends to add 25 further head office jobs to the 125 already at the site.

However, the officers’ report states: “The proposed parking area will create a significant area of hardstanding in an area where there is currently no development. Openness is commonly referred to as the absence of development, and the introduction of this area of hardstanding is therefore considered to reduce openness.

“The proposal also constitutes encroachment into the countryside which would consequently conflict with one of the identified purposes of the Green Belt.

“The car park proposal also represents a material change of use of the land. There is no exception in national or local plan green belt policy for this development and it must, as a matter of current planning case law, be classed as inappropriate development.”

In Congleton, Trafford Housing Trust Developments is seeking outline consent for up to 59 homes within the curtilage of Eaton Cottage, off Macclesfield Road on the edge of Congleton. The scheme has been designed by Jay Ashall Partnership.

The developer, which is advised by Barton Willmore, acknowledges that the proposal runs counter to the development plan, but believes Cheshire East’s tight housing supply and lack of affordable homes might help its cause.

THT said that it is looking to make 60% of homes at the site affordable and although officers regard this as a benefit, it “is not considered to outweigh the policy presumption” regarding the loss of open countryside.

Local opinion is strong on the matter, with letters of objection reaching the council from 45 households in the area.

The proposal “would be likely to result in the loss of protected trees and contains insufficient information concerning ecological matters” said officers, recommending refusal.

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