Surprise refusals at Cheshire West & Chester planning meeting

At the committee yesterday councillors went against planning officers’ recommendations on proposals involving holiday developments and student accommodation.

A project to expand a holiday park by Forest Holidays in Delamere forest was recommended for approval but was refused at the planning meeting on Tuesday 4 April.

The joint application from Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission included a redeveloped visitor’s centre, 67 holiday cabins and visitor amenities.

A similar application was submitted in 2013 and was refused as it involved major development on the green belt. The current application was rejected on similar grounds, with the harm to the green belt seen to outweigh any investment or benefits to the local area.

Following the meeting, Forest Holidays said: “We have been working together with our partners at the The Forestry Commission for many years to find solutions to the challenges that Delamere Forest presents. It is a shame that their vision for the forest has not gained planning approval.

“Evidence and experience from our other nine Forest Holidays locations show that they quickly become part of the local community, increase opportunities for access, contribute substantially to the local economy as well as delivering ecological improvements and bringing valuable income to support the Forestry Commission.”

Concept Town Planning advised on the scheme.

At the same meeting, proposals for 143 holiday lodges and a sailing facility on Fourways Quarry in Oakmere was approved, having been recommended for refusal. The recommendation for refusal was due to the site being earmarked for water sports by the council, with a decision that landowner William Fergusson’s plan did not concentrate enough on that aspect. However the planning officer’s report stated that technical issues present in an earlier application had been amended.

Savills was the planning advisor.

Morbaine Student Accommodation 2Councillors also rejected the proposal for student accommodation from developer Morbaine. The site is located on Hoole Way in Chester city centre. Permission was sought for accommodation for 376 students, made up of 56 self-contained studio rooms with the remainder provided in communal flats. On the ground floor plans for social facilities include a cinema, games room and common room.

Day Architectural designed the building.

The application was recommended for approval, however the planning officer’s report suggested concerns about the appropriateness of the site, the scale of the development, as well as parking issues.

Your Comments

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Why have professional planning officers if elected Councillors with a poor understanding of technical planning are going to make their minds up based on misinformation and self interested public pressure! It was like watching an episode of the fast show yesterday.

By Jonathan B

Quite simple really. Councillors are more in tune with the strength of feeling in the local community, they are also dependent on voters in forthcoming elections. In many instances planning officers do not live in the authority they represent and they are more likely to be influenced by developers. As far as the Delamere scheme is concerned – it was rejected previously, having been called in by the Secretary of State but still Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission won’t give up. In this instance I am very thankful we have councillors involved in the process.

By Bernadette

Perhaps there is more to good design and good development than an understanding of technical planning?

By If it walks like a duck

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