Cheshire East urged to reconsider green belt strategy

Simon Donohue

Cheshire East Council has been urged to consider developments on a broader spread of green belt sites as it prepares for the future housing needs of the borough.

Facing an unprecedented number of planning appeals from developers suggesting that the council cannot demonstrate an adequate supply of land for new housing, Cheshire East's draft core strategy includes a proposal to develop 1,800 homes and 30 acres of employment land on a council site to the east of Handforth defined as green belt.

This site is proposed as a means of accommodating much of the projected housing growth in the north of Cheshire East, including a large element of overspill from nearby Wilmslow.

The council's strategic planning board will be asked to endorse the Cheshire East core strategy on Thursday 26 September.

If endorsed, the strategy will be the subject of a formal consultation exercise prior to an anticipated submission to the secretary of state around the end of this year.

Examination of the core strategy is proposed for spring/summer 2014 and adoption targeted by the end of 2014.

Jonathan Vose, principal consultant at Walsingham Planning, Knutsford, said the council should first carry out a full assessment of all available green belt land and other sites in order to reduce the impact on one particular site.

He said: "Given the scale of strategic development proposed, and with many of the existing settlements being tightly contained in planning terms, the council's options for accommodating significant growth projections were always likely to involve some fairly radical proposed solutions.

"The proposals in Handforth are particularly interesting, in planning terms, given that a very large scale of development is proposed wholly within the green belt, without the council first having published a formal assessment of its green belt, or the quality and openness value of sites within it."

Vose said the selection process relevant to proposed development sites has been shaped, in part, by various consultation and workshop exercises and previous inputs from local groups and individuals.

As the forthcoming consultation effectively seeks the public's views on the council's preferred strategic development strategy, the weight of consultation responses is likely to be significant, he said.

He added: "The proposed resultant trans-location of green belt, across Cheshire East, and the notion of meeting the housing needs of surrounding settlements within the green belt outside Handforth are also likely to be closely scrutinised by objectors.

"Critics might also seek to challenge the council's approach of allocating large and specific housing and employment sites, through the core strategy.

"Such an exercise would usually follow via the site allocations process, with the strategic and thematic policies first being set through the core strategy.

"Such a process could lead to a protracted and wide-reaching period of examination, with strategic and site specific matters being analysed and contested concurrently."

A report titled Cheshire East Local Plan: Report of Consultation and Core Strategy Provisional Sites will be considered by the council's strategic planning board on Thursday.

The core strategy is a central component of Cheshire East's Local Plan.

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and according to the Committee report: "Crewe is the only place within the North West that will truly create the opportunity for decentralisation of the economy outside of London and the South East". What planet are these people on!!!!!!!!

By Dirt Digger

Crewe having a stop on the HS2 line would indeed offer a great opportunity for huge growth and a swing away from the south-east wouldn’t it? Obviously the likes of Manchester have a lot to offer in achieving decentralisation, but Manchester is already highly developed. To truely rebalance the economy geographically, growth in new locations is needed, and I see no reason why Crewe couldn’t play a big part in that.

By Mancboi

The militant middle classes have caused a rumpus because they want to be the only ones with an open aspect, where they now live was someone elses open aspect once! What the council should be considering is the quality of life within the town and keeping more open space inside the town and spreading housing on the outskirts even if that does mean greenbelt, it is just a name for land not yet built on. We can’t keep making towns more and more densely populated, people need space around them for their mental wellbeing.

By MaccResident

Crewe is hardly an overcrowded metropolis though. I think it makes sense to get a critical mass somewhere in the borough, and for the reasons given above, it makes even more sense for that place to be Crewe. I don’t think development will significantly harm the quality of life in Crewe, and is in fact needed to regenerate and revive the town.

By mancboi