Plans by Pickmere’s Parish Council to build a new community hall in the village have been recommended for refusal by Cheshire East’s planners, following 73 letters of objection from local residents.
The village, off the B5391 with a population of around 600 people, fronts the Pick Mere. The parish council is proposing to extend the existing Turton Pavilion, which is on green space owned by the parish council facing the lake.
This five-acre parcel of land was gifted to the council through a Section 106 agreement from the neighbouring Jacob’s Way housing development.
The proposals are to extend the existing structure with a new-build element of around 1,900 sq ft in size, bringing the total size of the building to around 3,000 sq ft.
It is intended to replace the existing village hall, built in 1861 and situated on the edge of the village, which the parish council said was “in need of significant enhancement if it is to be retained as a focus of village activities” and “relatively remote from the majority of the community”.
The extension of the pavilion, the parish council argued, would “enhance the potential for developing community-focussed activities in a more central local in the village” and would allow the building to be used year-round, rather than just the summer.
The plans are at outline stage but the design precedents cited by the council point to a timber-framed building. The council added that only a small parcel of open space would be lost due to the development with “over 99%” of land remaining.
However, the outline planning application has been met with strong opposition from local residents, with 51 letters received against the project following an initial consultation, and a further 22 letters after a second round of consultation.
Concerns raised by residents include a lack of access to the site; the proximity of the development to the nearby Wincham Community Centre; a lack of public consultation; the impact on wildlife and views over the lake; and the potential of the village hall to attract “undesirables”.
There are also concerns raised that the existing village hall could be sold on for housing development, although there are no indications from the parish council that this is the case.
Cheshire East’s planning officers have now backed the objectors and have recommended the project for refusal when the council’s Northern planning committee meets next week.
Planners’ criticisms focus on the new village hall being built on designated open space, which they said would “directly reduce the area available for outdoor sport and recreation”.
“The open space appears to have strong support within the community, and notwithstanding this, it is not considered that the present open space is surplus to requirements, nor would its loss be adequately compensated for by a village hall,” said the planners’ report.
“Questions are raised as to why exactly the village hall must be placed on the open space and whether the costings associated with the refurbishment of the existing village hall on Pickmere Lane would not be the more viable option.
“Minimal information has been submitted regarding the proposed uses of the village hall, the desired uses of the community, nor how this building could tie in to the surrounding open space”.
Cheshire East’s Northern planning committee is due to meet on 15 August.