Guinness’ Crewe scheme returns to committee

Plans for 73 homes on a former railway social and sports club site are again recommended for approval, having been deferred in August.

Housing association the Guinness Partnership wants to build 31 affordable houses and 42 independent living apartments at the Goddard Street site.

The professional team includes planner Knights, architect Bowker Sadler Partnership and landscaping consultant Ascerta.

Formerly home to the LMR Club, the social club closed in 2009, with all structures on site demolished in 2012.

Plans were lodged earlier this year and were heard at August’s Cheshire East southern planning committee. Sport England had registered a holding objection, insisting that mitigation should be made to offset the loss of a full-sized football pitch.

Although there had been no argument on mitigation payments being necessary, difficulty has arisen in finding an alternative nearby location to invest in.

The applicant’s suggestion of investing £80,000 in a site outside Crewe’s boundaries, at Sutton Lane, Middlewich “raised concerns,” as planning officers report, leading to deferral.

Since that deferral, further discussions have taken place involving groups including Crewe Town Council and ward councillors.

What is proposed now is described by officers as “a pragmatic approach to the Section 106 agreement” where the £80,000 contribution can be held for up to five years, to enable a policy-compliant site to be found. The search will then be widened if a site is not found in that timeframe. The Sutton Lane option also remains on the table.

As for the housing proposal in itself, officers report that the scheme’s 100% affordability should weigh in its favour, adding that there is every indication that with Homes England backing secured, the project could be on site quickly, making a positive contribution to the council’s housing targets.

A previous proposal for the site from Wulvern Homes, for 74 houses, was refused in February 2017 , that group then becoming subsumed into the Guinness Partnership.

Cheshire East’s southern planning committee meets on Wednesday 24 November.

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