Cheshire East is set to launch a consultation on the proposed 1,500-home project off the A34 near Handforth, one of 14 Garden Villages named by the Government in January last year.
The site, east of the A34 opposite the Handforth Dean retail park, also includes 29.6 acres of employment land and is now allocated in Cheshire East’s Local Plan for the development of a new village, sometimes referred to as the North Cheshire Growth Village.
The Handforth project was one of the 14 garden villages named by Government in January 2017, other approved North West locations being in Knowsley, Carlisle and Bailrigg, Lancaster.
The supplementary planning document will establish the vision and strategic objectives of the site, identify the planning requirements that all planning applications must include, and set in place an overall masterplan and design guide to frame development proposals.
Cheshire East’s development company Engine of the North will act as lead developer. In design terms, the village will be centred around a traditional village high street, anchored at one end by a village green and amphitheatre.
The village is to include a primary school, sports facilities including a grass pitch and 3G surfaces, village hall and space for self-build homes. There will be 116 acres of open space. With linkages to Handforth itself a priority, the plans also call for the replacement of the existing A34 footbridge with a more accessible design that could act as a gateway feature.
Beyond the village centre, the development proposal is divided into three neighbourhoods. To the north will be Dairy House, a residential-led area featuring medium density homes featuring townhouses and semi-detached and detached homes – this segment of the site already includes the Ministry of Defence offices and a Total Fitness gym, which will both remain, and access from Dairy House Lane.
Kissing Gate, the south western part, will feature the most dense housing, with townhouses the predominant model. Blossoms Lane, in the south eastern part of the development, and furthest from the bypass, will be the lowest density, with a “mixed suburban and rural feel” – the rural elements will be situated at the scheme’s edges.
The commercial space is to be primarily offices, R&D and light industrial, with parameters suggested in the SPD as office space of up to 24,000 sq ft, 97,000 sq ft of R&D space and the same volume of light industrial; with 26,900 sq ft of general industrial space.
Challenges to the site’s development include some amount of site remediation and the upgrade of vehicle access and capacity on the A34 and A555 airport relief road. Where possible, existing natural features are to be retained, while existing public footpaths will be protected and “barriers to pedestrian, cycle and bus route connections to the local area should be overcome”. In time, the village could be extended onto safeguarded land to the south.
Around 70% of the site is in the ownership of Cheshire East, the report accompanying the SPD says, warning that if it is to be successful, the garden village “will require the leadership and ongoing involvement of council functions and services over a number of years”. A target of 2030 for the project’s completion is named.
The proposal is for the draft SPD consultation to run for six weeks, concurrently with the second stage Local Plan consultation, covering site allocations and development policies.