Leader says North Cheshire Growth Village "presents a great opportunity"


Cllr Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, has issued the following letter today regarding the proposed development of the North Cheshire Growth Village at Handforth East.

"I have always taken a strong stance to fight for well planned, sustainable development in Cheshire East. To do this successfully I would always want local communities to be fully involved and have an influence on the process.

"Recently, I was pleased to meet with residents of Wilmslow to discuss development in the local area. The North Cheshire Growth Village at Handforth East presents a great opportunity to create a new self-contained settlement with properly planned infrastructure.

"I am committed to ensuring that the Handforth East site is developed comprehensively in accordance with an agreed Masterplan.

"Since very early meetings with residents, I have tried to support no development within Handforth or Wilmslow green spaces. I was concerned at the scale of development at Coppice Way and Adlington Road as I believe the bulk of development should be concentrated at the new sustainable village at Handforth.

"I am against "pepper potting" development as this means no sustainability and relief on infrastructure and a greater intrusion into the greenbelt. (Please see the map of all the sites that could be developed if our proposed village was to be removed).

"One of the most important pieces of infrastructure is the A34. We are working with Stockport to develop options for road access arrangements to serve the new village, as well as improved public transport and cycling facilities in the area which the Handforth East Village would enable us to deliver.

"My officers will continue to work closely with the local residents of Wilmslow and Handforth, and we would welcome your involvement in the development of a Transportation Strategy for the A34 corridor which will inform our future development plans in your area.

"We are also working to ensure the impacts of our development beyond CEC on the A34 in Stockport are mitigated. We need to work to reduce the impact of our traffic increase from the Handforth village or "pepper potting" development all the way up to the Gatley lights.

"Finally, and again in consultation with residents and Stockport, we are developing options for a new link to access the village from the A555 fully funded by CEC (please see map below). This is to alleviate the impact on the A34. So whilst I regret any development in our green spaces I believe that the new village will protect Handforth, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge from serious greenbelt intrusion and minimise the impacts on the A34."

Cllr Michael Jones, Handforth, Local Plan, North Cheshire Growth Village


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Lynne Prescott
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 9:17 am
A great opportunity for nearby residents.... to spend more time in traffic resulting from the additional congestion.... to wait for even longer to get a doctor's appointment... to spend more time in their own homes or cars because their last walkable access to green belt for recreation and leisure has been removed (but it's OK because I am sure Cheshire East will be laying on buses for us to 'visit' the green belt they have swapped it for near Crewe!)
Julian Barlow
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 9:57 am
A great opportunity for those who pay Michael Jones salary to be completely ignored. A great opportunity to witness the myth of democracy. A great opportunity to experience the impotence of CEC. A great opportunity to see how our elected officials fail yet again to adequately support the people and communities they are supposed to represent.
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 10:30 am
Lynne - you have given Cheshire East a great idea. A "park and ride" from Handforth East to the greenbelt south of Crewe - all inclusive day ticket needed.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 10:53 am
I hope the "travellers" on Earls Road have been consulted- this development could greatly affect their way of life unless, of course, the secret location for the permanent travellers site(!) is in "Handforth East".
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 11:16 am
Read the previously listed CEC announcement and use the link to see the list of submissions to the Planning Inspector, Mr Pratt. At the very bottom are his questions to CEC. Most have already been aired by us CE residents and ignored by CEC..
You will also note that future traffic flows on the A34 have not been yet modelled. The results will be available Sept 2014. The economic justification for 27,000 houses in CE is not clear, with submitted views swinging more than +/-50%. CE do not have a clue about how or why our economy will grow. So economic sustainability is definitely not proven.
And you will see the threatening implication in Cllr Jones' pepper potting map for Wilmslow and Handforth. Support 1,800 houses at Handforth East, or I will ensure the equivalent number are built per the map. And that's before he chooses where the traveller/gypsy site will be. (I'll give you just one guess folks.)
Please note the word 'I' litters his statements. He ignores us all and, including our own town council and the Wilmslow Trust. And nobody at CEC does anything except nod their heads, or moans, but does nothing.
George Osborne does nothing either for us either. Seems clear that they both want to lose the next election. With interest rates to rise shortly, the financial mess nationally and at CEC can only grow.
Peter Lomas
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 12:30 pm
One has to wonder at Michael Jones' reasoning and motivation for this development.
Also, are the council consulting with Stockport about the additional impact of the proposed development on the Woodford Aerodrome Site?
Andrew Backhouse
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 2:24 pm
I am pleased to see Michael Jones wants to see this new development as sustainable. However, I think he has failed to see the comments from Transtion Wilmslow who campaign on sustainability, and others. Where is the link to the railway, bike routes or bus routes? Given the 130 bus stops in the evening, these residents look stuck with cars and the A34? Where is the council's responsibility on carbon reduction, as encouraged by central government and international treaty? Where is the landscape character assessment which looks at this area's biodiversity, and reference to the work that was done with EU money to restore it to country side? I may not like extra development within Handforth but at least that does add use to local community facilities.
Rick Andrews
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 2:42 pm
Seems like Michael Jones has lost touch with the fact that he "leads" a council and that decisions are made on behalf on the electorate, or are we now under the control of this one individual? Where is the justification for the housing need and how can a decision be made before the impact on traffic is properly assessed? The A34 is already overloaded and this will just add more traffic.
Toni Fox
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 3:37 pm
For who, Councillor Jones, you? CEC will be the only one's to benefit from selling this land, the rest of us will be left with the aftermath.

For the record, whilst it is laudable that you have taken the time to meet with residents of Wilmslow when, may I ask, are you going to take the time to meet with residents of Handforth and Handforth Parish Council regarding the proposal for the North Cheshire Growth Village at Handforth East that will eradicate 100 hectares of OUR Green Belt land?

Handforth, nor its Parish Council, has seen or heard from you since your attendance at a Public Meeting hosted by Handforth Parish Council on 5th February 2013 during which residents made it extremely clear they disagreed with your proposals.

"...want local communities to be fully involved and have an influence on the process....." "...in consultation with residents...."

I would be very interested and frankly astounded to see what, if any, evidence you have to support these statements in respect of Handforth.
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 4:03 pm
Andrew - sustainability and Cheshire East can't be mentioned in the same sentence. Adlington Road has no buses at all and it did not stop them arguing it was a sustainanle site.
Jane Middleton
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 4:10 pm
How can Cllr Jones say "he was concerned at the scale of development at Coppice Way and Adlington Road as I believe the bulk of development should be concentrated at the new sustainable village at Handforth." Did he listen to all the Adlington Road development objectors with earplugs fitted.
Sandra Cox
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 4:34 pm
Whenever infrastructure is mentioned, there is never any reference to providing more hospitals and extra high school places. It is quite frightening to think what living around Wilmslow and Handforth will be like in say ten years time. All the advantages it enjoys now in comparison to the crowded commuter belt around London will have gone. What a legacy Michael Jones will leave behind.
Brian Tolver
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 4:48 pm
Living in Cheshire East can seem like a weird mixture of Animal Farm and 1984.
“...want local communities to be fully involved and have an influence...” “have tried to support no development within Handforth or Wilmslow green spaces”...”see the sites that could be developed if our proposed new village was (sic) to be removed”.

We residents have never been allowed to have any influence.
He has tried very hard indeed to ensure Handforth's green space is sacrificed even though the total sites they have identified across Cheshire East – 50,o00 of then – is far beyond the 27,000 they claim they need.

And the alternative sites he threatens us with developing as an alternative, make out as if they would all have to go into Wilmslow. But Handforth East is there to carry the load for Knutsford and Poynton as well. If every community took its fair share of the 1650 new houses (as Wilmslow is having to do at Adlington Road anyway, and Handforth beside Handforth Hall), we could all absorb them.

The single, inescapable factor driving this “vision” is this:- Michael Jones said it himself – he wishes to “cash in in Handforth East”.

The “vision” is nothing to do with planning considerations, and certainly nothing to do with concern for residents: it's plain old simple asset-stripping.
Cllr. Barry Burkhill
Wednesday 16th July 2014 at 7:47 pm
Eric Pickles said on a radio interview at the end of June that the condition of green belt land was unimportant where it existed to prevent urban sprawl. He particularly referred to existing green belt between large conurbations and its importance to keep these conurbations from merging towards each other. Michael Jones and Cheshire East Council are ignoring this advice and the concern of the Secretary of State as its Local Plan Strategy for Handforth Ward, which Cllr. Mahon and I represent, involves the development of this narrow strategic green belt to within metres of the Stockport Metropolitan Borough boundary. This green belt protects not only Handforth Ward but also the Wilmslow Wards and identifies us from the Greater Manchester Authorities. This green belt has been chosen by Michael Jones and CEC to be developed because CEC owns most of the land.
The appointed inspector into the Local Plan has asked some very searching questions concerning the reasons why particular sites have been earmarked for development and he has given CEC until 18th July to answer. I am sure that your readers will be most interested in the answers to explain how developing this green belt has come about and why Conservative led Cheshire East Council is pursuing this highly controversial course, which has generated enormous opposition from Handforth, Wilmslow and particularly from Stockport Council which has produced a damning report against the plan.
The answer stems from a meeting which the Independent Group on Cheshire East Council had with the newly elected leader of Cheshire East Council in 2012, at which he stated that he was going to “cash in” on Handforth’s Green Belt. Therefore two years ago at the beginning of the local plan process, sites were being chosen for development for their monetary value to CEC rather than emerging from evidence of need. The green belt, particularly the narrow strategic green belt between the two distinctive conurbations of North Cheshire and Stockport, is the final place any responsible Council should look for development following evidence of need and then only if there were very special circumstances to override green belt policy. No such evidence has been produced.
Of course it is important to adopt the Cheshire East Local Plan as soon as possible to control speculative and unplanned development within the Borough but this must not be at the expense of strategic green belt. We have warned CEC for many months that their draft Local Plan was unsound but our warnings have been ignored. We would hope that at an early stage, to minimize delay, CEC will be asked to withdraw their development strategy on the narrow North Cheshire Green Belt.
This chaotic situation is as much the fault of Central Government for allowing their planning inspectors to give planning permissions on unplanned greenfield sites. Developers have amassed so many planning permissions on greenfield sites that they will not have to consider developing any brownfield sites and there are more brownfield sites in the North West than there are in the rest of the country.
Jonathan Vose
Thursday 17th July 2014 at 10:36 pm
In the simplest planning terms, one would struggle to find a site more appropriately designated as Green Belt than 'Handforth East'.

The key function of Green Belt is to retain an open character, as well as stopping the coalescing of settlements, stop urban sprawl and protect the countryside from encroachment.

Handforth East does all these things. In simple terms, it plays a key role in keeping Cheshire and Greater Manchester apart - exactly as Green Belt should do.

The Council's own retrospectively commissioned Green Belt Study confirms this.

As such, the Council's commitment to this singular approach retains little planning logic, merit or justification and will no doubt be a source of close scrutiny by the appointed Local Plan Inspector.

All of the above planning logic suggests that this is patently the wrong approach and site to meet future housing need in North Cheshire.
Neil Matthews
Friday 18th July 2014 at 9:45 am
My view, if I may quote the great Swedish wordsmiths, Benny and Bjorn, "money, money, money"!
Kathryn Blackburn
Friday 18th July 2014 at 10:34 am
Meanwhile I smell the wind of change. It is has been strongly mooted that Mr Osborne wants the position of Foreign Secretary after the election and will swap jobs with Hammond. Cllr Michael Jones has merely been carrying out Osborne's growth policy since its concept in 2012. A concept of growth at any cost without fear or thought of the long-term consequences or value for money for the taxpayers. Without the backing of either Westminster OR the voting electorate of Cheshire East, what is left for our dear Leader other then resignation ?