Stockport loses 200-home Mirrlees Fields appeal
MAN Energy Solutions has been granted permission to build homes and a country park on land next to its Hazel Grove head office.
Stockport Council rejected the 200-home application in 2022 against officer recommendations. The planning committee argued that the scheme would result in an unacceptable loss of open space. MAN subsequently appealed the decision.
The Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the refusal, stating that the developer’s proposal would actually “guarantee greater public access” at the site given that much of the site is currently inaccessible.
In May 2021, MAN agreed in principle to transfer more than 40 acres to the Land Trust. This agreement would see Land Trust manage and maintain the space.
Planning inspector Caroline Mulloy’s report said: “Whilst there would be a loss of at least 10.8 acres of designated open space, it is agreed between the council and the appellant that the development would enable around 53.6 acres of private land to be made available for public and recreational use – 45.2 acres of informal open space and 8.4 acres of residential amenity open space.”
The Mirrlees plans, consulted on in 2020 and lodged in outline in summer 2021, have been controversial from the outset, rousing local opposition.
A petition launched by the campaign group Protect Mirrlees Fields has garnered more than 5,000 signatures to date.
The land to the north of MAN’s Stockport head office was once a golf course and has been owned by the company for 60 years. At present, access is only permitted via public footpaths or with prior consent from the owner.
While the main issue considered during the appeal process was that of open space, the inspector also took into account Stockport’s housing supply. The inspector concluded the council has a five-year housing land supply of 4,256 homes, equivalent to 3.78 years and a “significant shortfall against the requirement”.
Stockport Council’s Lib Dem Leader Cllr Mark Hunter is coming under increasing pressure to update the borough’s local plan. Stockport pulled out of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework in 2020 and paused work on its local plan last year to wait for the outcome of a consultation on the NPPF.
Asteer Planning advised MAN on the proposals.