Local groups have continued to object to two proposals in Macclesfield, totalling more than 350 homes over air quality and traffic issues, with both returning to Cheshire East’s strategic planning board five months after being withdrawn from the committee’s agenda.
The first proposal, by Jones Homes and Redrow for 233 houses on agricultural land between Chelford Road and Pexhill Road, was first due to be discussed by the strategic planning board on 28 March but was removed from the agenda at the start of the meeting.
Following this, a second proposal, this time by Robinsons Brewery to build 135 homes opposite The Cock Inn to the north of Chelford Road, was also removed from the following strategic planning board agenda on 4 April.
At the time, both proposals were recommended for approval, subject to a Section 106 agreement.
According to Cheshire East’s head of planning, both were pulled due to “a possible issue in terms of pedestrian facilities at a proposed junction” which meant planners could not “give committee all the information” they needed to make an “informed decision”.
Both have now returned to Cheshire East’s strategic board and are set to be discussed at a meeting on 4 September, again with a recommendation to approve.
However, following their return to committee, Henbury Parish Council, one of the scheme’s main objectors, has argued previously-raised issues, including the pedestrian facilities cited as a reason for withdrawal, have not been addressed.
As a result, the council has continued to object based on air quality, site access, flooding, traffic, and a lack of school places, while the group has argued the data used to support the application is “deeply flawed”.
The council points out that the traffic modelling for both schemes is based on the first draft of the Cheshire East Local Plan, which included 2,450 properties in the area; there are 3,500 properties in the adopted Local Plan, which the parish council said would miss the impact of over 1,500 vehicles on the road.
The parish council also raised issues around air quality, after Broken Cross was officially declared an AQMA in October 2017. To date, no air quality monitoring action plan has been put in place by Cheshire East council.
In its objection to the scheme, Henbury Council said the transport assessment was “misleading”, “blatantly ignored valid information” and “is based on non-representative traffic and pedestrian flows”.
These pedestrian flows, the council argued, were carried out on 21 May 2018, when “several year groups were absent” from nearby schools due to exams, meaning the data “does not represent typical flows”.
In addition, the council said the site access and highways would ignore queues of traffic along Chelford, Gawsworth, Fallibroome, and Broken Cross roads, which “extend to 150 vehicles in each direction”.
Henbury Parish Council’s objections have been supported by local residents and the Save Macclesfield Green Belt Group; in a joint statement, the parties said they were “not against well planned sustainable development that does not negatively impact neighbours, air quality, safety, or the environment”.
A joint statement also argued that peat extraction would be necessary to make both sites developable; this, the groups said, would be contrary to Cheshire East’s Local Plan.
Despite the numerous objections, Cheshire East planning officers have recommended both schemes for approval.
For both proposals, planning officers said these would “not have a detrimental impact on the local highway network subject to implementation of a highway improvement scheme at Broken Cross roundabout”, and argued that “with appropriate mitigation, the impact on local air quality will be acceptable also”.
This junction work would see the Broken Cross roundabout replaced with a signal control junction, with two lanes on the A537 Chelford Road eastbound approach. This is estimated to cost £855,000.
Regarding air quality, the planners’ report admitted that “taking into account the uncertainties with modelling, the impacts of the development could be significantly worse than predicted”; however, the report added the proposals “will not have a detrimental impact on the air quality of the area as any impacts will be mitigated against”.
The planners’ report added: “Based on the principles shown on the indicative layout, the proposal would not materially harm neighbouring residential amenity and would provide sufficient amenity for the new occupants.
“Cheshire East is currently able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing; however, these proposals will make a valuable contribution in maintaining this position.”
The applications are set for approval subject to a Section 106 agreement. For Redrow and Jones Homes’ proposals, this will include £1.2m towards education provision.