Toni Fox Cheshire East
Cllr Toni Fox, cabinet member for planning, said the council has reviewed consultation responses

Cheshire East makes U-turn on Green Belt release

Sarah Townsend

The council aims to ditch proposals to release some Green Belt land around towns such as Mobberley and Alderley Edge for housing, on the grounds that enough development has been delivered to meet need.

The Cheshire East Local Plan was approved in 2017 and consulted last year on the second phase of the strategy – known as the site allocations and development policies document and covering new, small-scale potential sites in the north of the borough for housing and employment.

Towns that could potentially have seen additional sites earmarked for development, as well as the above, included Mobberley, Bollington, Knutsford, Wilmslow, Middlewich and Alderley Edge. They are described as ‘local service centres’ in the document.

The 2019 version included plans to review Green Belt allocations with a view to releasing land to provide an additional 3,500 new homes to meet the council’s target of delivering 36,000 homes in the years to 2030.

The revised document, due for consideration by the council’s strategic planning board on 23 September, says that Green Belt release is no longer required, because schemes that were in the pipeline at the time of the consultation have now been delivered, bringing the council close to its target.

The document states: “The 2020 monitoring results show that there remains a significant overall housing supply in the borough. The level of supply flexibility now stands at 13.9%, compared to just under 10% when the Local Plan [was approved].

“More particularly, the substantial level of housing completions in 2019/20 (3,065 homes) means that supply flexibility, expressed as a proportion of homes still to be built to reach the overall requirement for 36,000 homes, now stands at 24.6%.”

The figure increases further if current allocations for 275 homes at Middlewich and Poyton are included, the document states, “meaning that even if one in five homes within the current housing supply was not built by 2020, the plan’s minimum requirement would still be exceeded.”

Amendments to the Green Belt boundary can only be justified “if exceptional circumstances” exist, it adds.

As well as the proposed review of Green Belt release, the latest draft also includes:

  • Revised policies for retail development and town centres, reflecting reduced demand for new retail floorspace and a need for diversified uses in town centres to support their vitality, according to Cheshire East, and,
  • Higher environmental standards for new homes to help tackle climate change

Once approved by the strategic planning board next week, the document requires cabinet approval on 6 October. It will then be sent to full council for approval, expected next spring, before being examined by a Government planning inspector.

Councillor Toni Fox, Cheshire East Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “We promised during the public consultation last year that we would carefully consider all the comments that were made. These revisions demonstrate that we have fully considered and reviewed the 2,700 responses.

“Planning always involves balancing a range of issues – facilitating new homes, jobs and other investments that are needed, whilst protecting our local environment and the health and wellbeing of our residents. The revisions we have made reflect all of these considerations.”

He added: “We are conscious that central Government is consulting on proposals to radically reform the planning system, including the way in which councils prepare their local plans.

“This inevitably raises some uncertainty for councils currently preparing plans, and residents. However, until we have more detail it is impossible to gauge how these may affect the emerging SADPD. At this time therefore it is important to progress this document to its next stage.”

The Conservatives lost overall control of historically Tory-controlled Cheshire East Council in the December elections for the first time since it was formed in 2009.

Gary Halman, planning principal at consultancy Avison Young, said: “The council is proposing a very different strategy to that which it published and consulted on just 12 months ago. All the proposed housing allocations in the smaller towns and villages have been dropped in the draft just unveiled.

“This means that in sustainable settlements like Alderley Edge, Bollington and Mobberley for example, which have excellent local facilities, will remain shrink-wrapped by the Green Belt and there is no growth planned for them during the remainder of the Local Plan period to 2030.

“This seems a strange position to adopt given that they are such sustainable locations. To remain sustainable and viable, some further housing growth would surely be a good thing, underpinning their vitality and, crucially, delivering much-needed affordable housing in what are inevitably high-value and therefore relatively unaffordable locations in the north of the borough.”

Cheshire East Housebuilding

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Finally, someone has seen the light!

By MS

A complete and utter disgrace.
Cheshire East have hammered Sandbach, Crewe, Nantwich and Congleton with new housing and now they are shrink wrapping the more affluent areas to the North.
Wait for the backlash !

By Stephen Wade

Shameful decision by the Council. This is why you shouldn’t mix politics with planning!

By Alderley Edge resident

Fantastic, we must protect our Greenbelt at all costs

By Nick Hey

Wouldn’t it be great if they just stop all greenbelt developments in East Cheshire especially around Handforth & Poynton. When its gone its gone!!

By CBA

That’s great for affluent areas like Alderley Edge etc but what about the abomination that they’ve forced on Alsager with warehousing approval for green belt on Crewe Rd & the nonsense inflicted on Lodge road/Sandbach rd corner? lodge road has not had a problem in the past 60+ years yet now it’s blocked it’s a pedestrian, cycle & driver nightmare.

By Diane Purkis

They have just restarted the house-price escalator. Good for local house owners and it wins votes. Dead easy! Looking for an affordable home? Clear off!

By James Yates

No more houses in the area of crewe and nantwich ,I think we have lost so much green belt land already and it’s a utter disgrace !! So mad that it all changes when it’s on their door steps

By Phil

No green belt should ever be built on, now or in the future. Give the land to farmer’s to use. Or for children to use. Save the planet. We will have no country side left soon!

By J Wheatley

Green light for housing?!
How about cutting and maintaining all awful looking greenery in bigger cities, smaller villages, by the roads, round abouts and many other! No money?! That’s disgusting decision, England looks worst than cow feild. Shame…

By Ashley T.

Please protect our green belt- once it’s gone it’s gone- there is lots of brown field sites that can be developed
Do not destroy our special town of Knutsford any more

By Louise Clark

These large developments of identical totally unimaginative houses that look as though they are based on a child’s drawing are not what is needed. They are ugly and dominate the landscape, not built to high environmental standards, reliant on car use, and generally far too expensive to meet local need. Smaller infill sites spread more widely and tied in to local need especially for genuinely affordable and social housing might be less profitable but would meet planning requirements and need with far less impact and far less destructive impacts on the environment. Where are all those flats over shops, the conversion of redundant buildings, and use of small sites? Councils could be much more proactive in supporting such housing solutions instead of these huge and highly profitable developments on green belt land.

By Laura Jones

Thank goodness for that. We need to protect our wildlife and country side. Watch David Attenborough extinction, SAD WATCH for our future. Too many people think. Just because we can, we should. Who’s protecting those vulnerable animals and plants worldwide dying because of humans!

By Anita simcock

Green belt is green belt whatever part of East Cheshire and should all be protected. South Cheshire villages in “Cheshire East” are being overwhelmed. Enough now thanks

By J Parker

Yet again Congleton, Holmes Chapel, Sandbach and Crewe have taken the stress out of the affluent other part of the authority. Fairness doesn’t figure at all. I despair of it.

By Pat McDonnell

Encouraging news for East Cheshire; the green belt needs protecting, its a potentially thriving much needed natural environment for Fauna, Flora and it’s human inhabitants.

By Cass Foxley

Too many houses the facilities in Poynton cannot sustain such rapid growth Doctors dentists schools are struggling & no extra parking Brown sites should be used Green belt is disappearing even land that floods has been allocated a disaster waiting to happen Builders won’t care once houses have been sold & families are left to cope

By Poynton resident

We have no more doctors dentists chemists, good shops or Train station, further building without these in place beggars belief.

By Kris Boon

No green belt land or countryside should be built on. I know where there is lots of brownfield sites in the northwest, build on that.

By Darren born bred Salford.

Yes, too late as ever, loads of green belt now under new housing estates in South Cheshire, but build in Alderley edge, Knutsford, wilmslow or Macclesfield? Hmm, wonder why not?

By Stuart

Given the unknown future of the UK in general due to Brexit and the financial implications of Covid on jobs and salaries, all unnecessary building of residential properties should cease indefinitely and be reassessed as to whether the plans should go ahead. The need for this sort of housing will probably change dramatically. Our wildlife should be protected at all cost as it is a vital part of our own existence and our legacy for the future of the planet and for generations to come. Cheshire is an amazing historical county and ideally areas outside suburbia should all be treated as greenbelt. We are a very changed world and need to get real.

By Eleanor Bell

So one assume any illegal occupation and violent change to the land will be appropiately dealt with offenders removed with urgency?

By B clancy

It is a shame that affluent votes seem to count more. Why can’t these settlements provide their fair share of housing land?

By NC

Interesting how Cheshire East planners put all the bulk building in the Southern part – Alsager has had over 2,000 new homes built an increase of 60% in tiny village . The affluent parts Wilmslow . Poynton , Bramhall , Knutsford , Alderely Edge all escaped any mass building – I wonder what that was ?????

By Chris Venables