Cheshire East to debate £1.6m watersports centre

Plans for a watersports and outdoor activity centre at a 55-acre former quarry in Chelford are to be discussed at Cheshire East Council’s planning committee next week, with the scheme recommended for refusal despite backing from the council’s rural investment team.

Cheshire Lakes Community Interest Company submitted the application earlier this year for the redevelopment of the former Hanson Quarry, using two existing lakes created as part of the quarry’s restoration plan following its closure.

In the plans, the North Lake would house a wire pulley system to enable wakeboarding, as well as an aerial activity course. The South Lake would be used for open water swimming, paddle boarding and canoeing.

Cheshire East Council is due to meet on Wednesday 27 July to discuss the proposals. Ahead of the meeting, a planning officer’s report has recommended the scheme be refused for biodiversity reasons, after objections were received from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

While the report acknowledged “a number of positives to the scheme”, it concluded that the development would have a “significant adverse impact on the conservation value of the lakes”.

However, the team behind the proposals remained positive that the project could be progressed, after working extensively with the council’s rural investment team prior to the application submission.

Jonathan Vose, director of Walsingham Planning, advising, said: “We are pleased that the case officer’s report to planning committee acknowledges that the proposed use is acceptable in the Green Belt, will deliver a unique sport and recreation facility to the area, will have significant job creation benefits, has no adverse highway or landscape impacts and is thus socially and economically sustainable and beneficial.

“Weighing against this, in the officer’s view, is the perception that the proposals will have an unacceptable ecology impact. This view is countered on the basis of the site only having ceased being quarried in 2014, the lakes and surrounding areas not having been fully restored or established yet and the site falling within an area where the accumulation of large birds is to be discouraged, given the site’s location within the Manchester Airport bird strike safeguarding zone.

“It is our view that the planning balance weighs very significantly in favour of the application being approved, and we look forward to presenting this case to members on Wednesday.”

Walsingham Planning submitted the application and acted as lead consultant, working alongside AECOM, Campbell Reith, FOB Design UK and Urban Green.

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