Knutsford homes knocked back over ‘Anywheresville’ claims

Redrow’s proposals for 190 homes have been struck a blow with Cheshire East’s planning committee unanimously voting to defer the scheme claiming it could make Knutsford look like “Anywheresville”.

The housebuilder had put forward a reserved matters application for the 190 properties on a greenfield plot of nearly 39 acres north of Northwich Road after securing outline permission in 2017.

Planning officers had recommended approval ahead of a strategic planning board this week, praising the housebuilder for “improving its design” over the development process, with no issues raised over environment or highways.

Redrow had argued in its design statement submitted ahead of committee that “the style and appearance [of the homes] will sit well in the rural setting with its unique character, however, it is ideally suited to the Cheshire and Knutsford setting and local vernacular”.

But these arguments failed to sway the planning committee, which voted unanimously to defer the scheme.

While lauding certain aspects of the scheme, including its inclusion of community orchards, and praising Redrow as “a good-quality housebuilder”, the design of the homes, particularly around the gateway to the site, came in for heavy criticism.

Committee vice-chair, and Conservative councillor for Knutsford, Cllr Stewart Gardiner led the objections to the design, arguing: “This will be the first point of reference to Knutsford. I do not want the town I call home to be seen as ‘Anywheresville’. It would not take any significant amount of time or money to redesign those six homes at the gateway to the site.”

Cllr Gardiner also criticised Redrow for a lack of engagement with local parties, particularly in regard to Knutsford’s neighbourhood plan.

He said: “The former landowners of the site [the Crown Estate] had engaged with the neighbourhood plan to ensure its sites, knitted together, would involve the population of the town.

“There has been an ignorance of what the neighbourhood plan requires, and at best, disregard of the policies held therein. The neighbourhood plan is not the cherry on the cake, it is the icing on the cake, and that’s what makes a significant difference to what a cake looks like, and therefore significant weight should be afforded to it in determination of a planning application.”

He added the proposals by Redrow “fail to comply” with the adopted neighbourhood plan.

Design concerns were echoed by Crewe West Labour Cllr Brian Roberts, who said: “Redrow are a good company and build good-quality houses but the design leaves a lot to be desired on this site.”

Adding there would be “no identity” and the houses would be “same-old, same-old,” Roberts said: “If we can’t make something special, something that stands out, something that will be a future heritage site, say, in a place like Knutsford, where can we?”

The committee ultimately voted unanimously to defer the application to allow more time for Redrow to work with the town council and local members to address the design concerns, as well as providing more information around the scheme’s environmental impact.

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