Seven Architecture designed the project for McCarthy Stone. Credit: via planning documents

McCarthy Stone wins Cheshire appeal

The retirement living developer can move forward with its plans for 44 apartments off Church Lane in Neston despite council concerns over highway safety.

Planning inspector M Brooker has ruled in favour of McCarthy Stone in the company’s appeal against Cheshire West and Chester Council’s decision to reject the project last year.

In its refusal, Cheshire West and Chester Council shared its concerns over the impact the plan would have on highway safety. The local authority cited the narrow nature of the road leading to the development. This would be an issue both during the construction period and afterwards, according to the council.

Brooker noted the council’s objection and agreed that the road network close to the site was narrow and often did not have an unobstructed footpath – which led pedestrians to walk in the carriageway. Brooker also stated that construction would cause disruption to local residents.

However, Brooker said that a condition in the construction management plan could handle this issue. Brooker also noted that construction would last approximately 63 weeks, with McCarthy Stone saying there would generally only be five delivery movements per day.

“In common with the current situation, as a result of the narrow, often obstructed or entirely absent pavement, pedestrians and in particular users of mobility scooters and wheelchairs from the appeal scheme would often have to use the carriageway on Church Lane,” Brooker said in the appeal verdict.

“Such a situation is far from ideal, however on the basis of the evidence before me I am satisfied that as a result of the limited traffic flow and low speeds of vehicles, the effect of the appeal scheme does not amount to an unacceptable impact on highway safety. Furthermore, I do not find that the cumulative impacts of the appeal scheme and the existing situation are so severe as to justify the dismissal of the appeal on these grounds.”

The Planning Bureau was the planning consultant for the project. Credit: via planning documents

Cheshire West & Chester Council Cllr Martin Barker was one of those opposed to the plan. He said he was “not only shocked but extremely disappointed” by the planning inspector’s decision.

“The development, which will take over a year, will have a massive impact on the residents of Eldon Terrace, Church Lane and the primary school,” Barker said. He argued that the inspector had not given proper consideration to the council’s concerns about access and safety.

“It is clear that there are major issues,” he said. “Even last week there was a fire at the abandoned house on the site and the fire service had major issues accessing the site. Imagine if a fire broke out at the new development?”

Barker concluded: “In my opinion, the inspectorate has made a very poor decision, which smacks in the face of local opinion.”

McCarthy Stone division managing director for the North, Ian Wilkins, welcomed the inspector’s decision.

“We are delighted that our proposals for much-needed new retirement living accommodation in Neston can now go ahead,” Wilkins said. “Our development will provide the opportunity for local older people to stay in the area in properties more suited to their needs, and free up under-occupied family homes.

“We will work hard to minimise the disruption to local residents during the short construction phase and our directly employed site manager will liaise regularly with the local community and stakeholders so that any problems that arise can be dealt with swiftly,” he continued. “We look forward to getting started on site and welcoming our first residents.”

McCarthy Stone’s proposal calls for a more than 42,000 sq ft building filled with 15 one-bed and 29 two-bed apartments for those aged 55 and older.

Seven Architecture designed the building, which at its highest point would be three storeys tall. At its lowest, the apartment block would be two storeys.

The later living facility would also have a residents’ lounge, scooter storage and other amenity spaces. Space would be provided for 45 cars to park.

The Planning Bureau is the planning consultant for the scheme. Transport Planning is the transport consultant.

The project’s reference number for the appeal with the Planning Inspectorate is APP/A0665/W/21/3282223. The application reference number with Cheshire West and Chester Council is 19/02087/FUL.

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I understood that if an area lacked certain amenities then planning approval rested entirely on LOCAL opinions. Does this include lack of a Post Office. I think there is a ‘points system’ to determine the criteria.


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