Decision on 350 homes in Macclesfield delayed over traffic issues
Two proposals for nearly 350 homes either side of Chelford Road, just outside Macclesfield, have been withdrawn from Cheshire East’s strategic planning board agenda after issues were discovered with how both would impact the local road network.
The first proposal, by Jones Homes and Redrow for 233 houses on agricultural land between Chelford Road and Pexhill Road, was due to be discussed by the strategic planning board on 28 March, but was removed from the agenda at the start of the meeting.
In an email seen by Place North West, David Malcolm, Cheshire East’s head of planning, said: “Given the comments from [Henbury] Parish and third parties, highways undertook a ‘sense check’ of all the information for certainty.
“However this has revealed a possible issue in terms of pedestrian facilities at the proposed junction such that it requires further investigation. As a consequence we cannot give committee all the information that they need to make an informed decision.”
This also led to a second proposal, this time by Robinsons Brewery to build 135 homes opposite The Cock Inn to the north of Chelford Road, to be removed from the next strategic planning board agenda on 4 April.
It is understood traffic modelling from the 2014 draft local plan had been used, which included 2,600 houses, rather than the actual adopted local plan for the area, which has 3,500 dwellings.
Both proposals had met fierce opposition from both Macclesfield Town Council and Henbury Parish Council, as well as attracting objections from local residents.
Jones and Redrow’s plans were met with particular objections from Macclesfield Council. The council said it would not support the development of green field sites within the borough, but said that as the site was allocated for development under the local plan, it would propose a series of conditions for the scheme, including air quality and traffic planning.
Henbury Parish Council objected to the proposals, citing a lack of school places and medical facilities in the area, and the scheme’s impact on local wildlife, as well as its impact on traffic.
Alongside this, the project received a series of objections from local residents following a consultation, many of whom rose concerns over an increase in traffic, the loss of green belt, and the impact on local infrastructure.
Similarly, Robinsons’ proposals attracted 128 objection letters from residents, while Macclesfield Council said there would be “a significant impact on traffic congestion” and air quality if the scheme went ahead.
In a statement, Henbury Parish Council said it welcomed the decision to withdraw Robinsons’ proposals from the 4 April agenda. “We believe that the application fails to address issues with traffic, pollution, infrastructure and flooding, along with the cumulative effect of the planning applications across Chelford Road for 232 houses, development of the Kings School, housing at the rugby club, and other large local developments, which feed through the Broken Cross Air Quality Management Area”.
Henbury Council’s particular bone of contention has been around air quality, after Broken Cross was officially declared an AQMA in October 2017. The council also raised concern that the two planning applications around Chelford Road were to be decided on an individual basis, rather than together as per Cheshire East and Government guidelines.
It is also understood workshops were due to be held in April and May to develop an action plan for the Broken Cross AQMA, in the weeks after the two planning applications were due to be decided.
There have been long-running issues with the air quality data used in Cheshire East’s local plan, and even led to a challenge by developer Muller Strategic Properties, which argued irregularities in the data affected the selection of sites and distribution development in the plan.
However, these concerns were dismissed by a High Court judge in February this year, who ruled Muller had no arguable case, with the judgement concluding that shortcomings in air quality data did not affect the substance of the Local Plan.
Cheshire East has been contacted for comment.