Cheshire East Council is trying to unlock land to build 1,500 homes but needs to unpick a complicated set of issues involving third party rights of way and other barriers to development.
The plans being drawn up by the council could see the authority exercise its right to ‘appropriate’ the land. This is the process whereby a council pays compensation to a third party to seize control of a plot for the purpose of development.
In this case, the council already owns 70% of the development area for the proposed Handforth Garden Village, located on the opposite side of the A34 to the Handforth Dean retail park.
However, within this 70% are rights of way and easements used by a third party. The other 30% of the site is in third party ownership.
Under the plans, Cheshire East will attempt to negotiate with the third party to reach an agreement to rework and altering these rights of way to enable development to progress.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the council could exercise its statutory right to appropriate the land. The council would then modify or remove these rights of way if they were deemed to impede development.
New rights of way would be provided “as appropriate”, according to a council report.
Engine of the North, the council’s development company, is leading on the Garden Village proposals, which as well as the 1,500 homes include a primary school, sports facilities, 175 elderly care residential units, a village hall, and space for self-build homes.
The plans also contain 116 acres of open space, and just under 30 acres of employment land.
The development site spans 300 acres and is earmarked to build one of 14 garden village projects selected by the Government in 2017 to boost housing numbers across the country.
Infrastructure work will make up the first phase and the next three stages will deliver roughly 500 homes each. The development is due to complete by 2030.
In total, around 48,000 homes are expected to be delivered through the UK’s garden villages initiative.
As well as Handforth, plans are in the works for garden villages in St Cuthbert’s in Cumbria, Bailrigg in Lancaster and Halsnead in Merseyside.