Second refusal for BAE in Alsager

BAE’s plans for 207,000 sq ft of industrial development in Alsager have been rejected for a second time by Cheshire East’s strategic planning board, which voted unanimously against the proposals.

While plans by the Crown Estate for housing and employment land on a 26-acre greenfield site near Knutsford were approved, and an application for the Middlewich Eastern bypass received a ‘minded to approve’ verdict awaiting a consultation response, the Alsager plan again met with as stiff a resistance at committee as it has received from local groups.

The outline application, put forward by BAE Systems Property Investments and supported by AEW Architects, covers a 29-acre site between existing residential development and the Radway Green Business Park. It is designated for employment land under Cheshire East’s Local Plan.

BAE’s plans include four units ranging between 96,400 sq ft and 17,000 sq ft; the larger two units sit to the east of the site opposite existing residential development. Access will be via Crewe Road, where housebuilder Persimmon also has consent for a housing scheme.

A previous outline application was rejected in November despite a recommendation to approve; councillors argued the proposals’ massing and layout did “not allow sufficient space for landscaping to mitigate the adverse impacts of the development”.

Changes made to the project ahead of its resubmission included the extension of the landscape buffer along Crewe Road from 10m to 12m wide; further detail on landscaping and the maximum height of buildings; and a reduction in the overall floorspace size of around 3,400 sq ft.

Although officers again recommended approval, committee members again focussed on the massing and layout, several stating that they did not believe enough had been done in terms of developing design and reducing the scheme’s impact. Cllr Steven Edgar observed: “I didn’t expect it to come back looking like this.”

Of the changes to the buffer zone, Cllr Martin Deakin said: “I’m sorry, I’m not convinced that this addresses the issue. Similarly, regarding landscaping and size, I’m not convinced enough has been done to overturn the concerns from November.”

The plans were refused unanimously, to applause from the public gallery.

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BAE need to appoint a decent planning consultant (perhaps one with an internal landscape architecture team) and take it to appeal. Should be an easy win.

By NWPlanner

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