Persimmon Middlewich January 2019

Middlewich housing dealt another blow

Charlie Schouten

After being refused by Cheshire East Council in January, plans by Persimmon to build 370 homes on a site in Middlewich are set to be knocked back for the second time in as many months with Cheshire West & Chester planning officers also recommending the scheme for refusal.

The housebuilder’s plans are for a 44-acre site off the A54 roundabout on the edge of Middlewich. The site straddles both Cheshire East and Cheshire West, with the land designated as open countryside in both boroughs.

Persimmon has put forward an outline application with up to 370 homes, including a mix of one, two, three, and four-bed houses ranging from detached, semi-detached, and mews houses.

The plans also included a replacement premises for Middlewich Community Church, which currently operates out of a converted social club on Brooks Lane; this is provided on a short-term lease and according to Persimmon’s planner Mosaic, this “restricts the future growth of the church” while the landowner has confirmed its intention to redevelop the site.

Although Mosaic had argued it was “abundantly clear that the adverse impacts of the development would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits,” Cheshire West & Chester planning officers have echoed comments by Cheshire East, and have recommended the scheme for refusal when its planning committee meets next week.

The officers’ report argued the principle of new residential development on the site, which is designated as open countryside, “is not supported”, and argued any housing scheme would “harm the intrinsic character and beauty of the open countryside”. The report added the development would “fail to minimise the loss of greenfield land and high-grade agricultural land”.

These are similar reasons to those behind Cheshire East’s refusal, where planning officers argued against the scheme based on a loss of open countryside, and the loss of agricultural land.

Planners said the scheme was a departure from Cheshire East’s Local Plan, given the land is not designated for housing and that the authority can demonstrate it has a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

As well as planning officers, there have been objections from locals with 181 letters of opposition put forward by Cheshire East residents. Concerns centre on traffic issues, while others argue that development should not be considered until the £58m Middlewich Bypass, which runs from the A54 to the south of Middlewich, is complete.

Both Middlewich Town Council and Sproston Parish Council also objected to the project, as did CWAC’s conservation and landscape teams, which highlighted the impact on the countryside and the “adverse” effect on the nearby Kinderton Hall.

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