Persimmon’s proposals to build 370 homes in Middlewich have been dealt a blow after Cheshire East planning officers recommended the scheme for refusal, citing the loss of open countryside.
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 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.
Persimmon’s plans also set aside parts of the site for green infrastructure across including an acre of open space. Access is proposed from a new roundabout on Byley Lane.
Ahead of the proposals going to committee, Mosaic argued: “The application’s timing is marginally in conflict with the Development Plan in so far as it is currently inconsistent with the saved settlement boundaries on Middlewich; however these are based on out of date housing requirements and will prevent successful implementation of the strategic policies, including those dealing with the scale and location of housing, from being achieved until they are reviewed and replaced.
“It is abundantly clear that the adverse impacts of the development would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits and that the proposal would represent sustainable development.”
However, in a report to next week’s strategic planning board, Cheshire East planning officers have recommended the scheme be refused, based on a loss of open countryside, and the loss of agricultural land.
Planners argue the scheme would be 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.
It is understood Cheshire West planners are also against the scheme and would be likely to recommend the scheme for refusal, as it would need to go to planning committee for both local authorities.
As well as planning officers, there have been objections from local residents with 181 letters of opposition put forward. 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.
Cheshire East’s strategic planning board is to make a decision on the project on 30 January. The professional team on the project also includes eScape Urbanists.