Barlow's Beef: It's put-up or shut-up time

Before you decide how to use your vote please take a look at the above photos.

Does it make sense to destroy this ancient green field while leaving the brownfield eyesore to remain undeveloped?

Despite CEC's much acclaimed Brownfield-First policy this is what is happening in your neighbourhood right now. Your Conservative council insist large-scale house building has been foisted upon it by the Conservative lead coalition.

There is an urgent need for affordable starter homes they tell us by way of justification. So... take a look at any of the new developments in your area. Count the number of 'affordable starter homes' and you will see the fallacy of this theory.

Developers hate building starter homes and are now allowed to negotiate their way out of their obligation to do so.

Neither is their any time-frame attached to the erection of homes on these greenfield sites thus allowing builders to 'bank' the land and simply wait for prices to rise.

How will that resolve the starter-home shortage? Without a contractual commitment to complete work greenbelt sites will simply lose their status leaving developers to determine whether to build or force up house prices by withholding available land.

Meanwhile communities living with ugly brownfield sites must continue to do so enabling builders to simply ignore them in favour of open pasture.

There will be a lot of money made in this great greenbelt invasion:

In 2012 Ainscough Strategic Land purchased a 17-acre site in Tytherington, Macclesfield for £4.5M.

After eight months of negotiations they agreed a Section 106 Agreement with Cheshire East that secured planning permission for 162 houses and apartments.

In 2014 ASL sold the site to Redrow Homes for more than £13M.

What other 'investment do you know that trebled in two years?

It's perfectly legal and illustrates the money to be made when selling land with planning permission.

Is it any wonder the greenbelt is under such incredible pressure?

But it will do nothing for those struggling to gain a foothold on the property ladder.

Please don't take my word for it. Take a look at the current crop of developments and ask yourself how many affordable starter homes are actually being built?

There is a very good reason we are short of low cost family homes. Cheshire East sold off their entire housing stock at an average of £3600 per home. They created the shortage and now plan to rectify it by building 'affordable' homes. A cursory examination will illustrate it's never going to happen.

What will happen is developers will switch their focus from brownfield sites, which are costly to prepare, to open fields-which are not. Under the guise of helping first-time buyers they will build expensive detached four-bedroom 'executive' homes on the greenbelt.
If you like what you see going on around you please ignore the above.

If not then consider the alternatives. We have adequate history of those currently in power. We do not need more rhetoric we can see with our own eyes what has happened. We know those politicians who attended residents' meetings made sympathetic noises then voted against the community they served.

You must decide if you want more of the same. Whatever they say going into an election these politicians are highly unlikely to change their ways.
We have no excuses. This is YOUR moment.

Put-Up or Shut-Up.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


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

Pete Taylor
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 10:57 am
Very well said!
Sarah Paterson
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 11:29 am
Brilliantly put Vic.
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 12:18 pm
Meanwhile the developers are feeding into the Local Plan that more houses need to be built to meet "demand". One look at internet sites and you can see exactly how many new builds have been sold and how long it has taken them to sell - because what everyone knows is that the price "off plan" will have no relation to the asking price several months down the line. Also homebuyers are now canny enough to know that any new build comes with a massive "snagging" list.
Graham Jackson
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 3:09 pm
So, would somebody who has the understanding and has the taken the time to get to the bottom of the issue, please list, the CEC Councillors and Parish Councillors that have towed the party line, and the others, who have represented the voters in accordance with their wishes.
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 3:40 pm
Three years or so ago Residents of Wilmslow pleaded with Cllr Michael Jones, Leader of CEC, to ensure all brownfield sites in the borough be fully considered and be the council's preferred building option. This strategy would be saving valuable Green Belt and greenfields for future generations rather than wreaking everlasting destruction by builders and developers. RoW pointed out that all the housing and commercial developments could be adequately accommodated on brownfields.
His response was somewhat surprising and shocking. Cllr Jones said the builders wouldn't want that option. Why? It was far more costly to develop brownfields that virgin green land. My response was that all business have difficult issues to resolve, but being builders that was a problem for them to solve, not to expect the communities to give up their green places. RoW also pointed out that all Wilmslow's, Macclesfield's and Handforth's housing and commercial requirements would be easily achieved by brownfield usage only.
He, Cheshire East, developers etc just didn't wish to know or consider.
And then our Conservative councillors, Wilmslow's Cllrs Menlove, Whiteley and Barton amongst them, the very people we had elected to act & protect our communities. just rolled over at the full council meeting in Feb 2014, voting like lemmings to not take out of the Local Plan our Green Belt & Safeguarded sites.
And now these very same councillors, in trying to be re-elected by an unknowing electorate, have the chutzpah to tell the electorate they "stand up for local residents & their concerns".
It is imperative that this whole development smoke and mirrors kiddology was exposed for what it is - a sham, a developers charter, an abrogation of fair and simple planning legislation.
RoW says Wilmslow has adequate brownfield sites plus windfall builds to more than meet the CE requirements. But it and they prefer to play the developers game.
On the 7th May at the Cheshu=iure East Council elections, VOTE for RoW's independent candidates, Toni FOX for Dean Row and David JEFFERAY for East ward - Public Before Party!
Drew Donaldson
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 5:36 pm
Can someone in the know point me in the right direction to find out where the locations of these brownfield sites are in Wilmslow. Thanks.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 5:46 pm
Two quotes from Rod Menlove's election pamphlet, which dropped on my mat today:

"Rod is a resident in the Ward and has represented your views as your local Councillor since 2007".
Not on 28th February 2014 he didn't, when he voted with his party, against the overwhelming wishes of his electorate to remove Green Belt protection from areas in Wilmslow and Handforth-

"I look for value for money- more with less- so that your Council Tax is spent wisely".
Lyme Green, cost £2m+ the person person in charge at the time: Rod Menlove.

At the time when Michael Jones made his famous speech about the Adlington Road fields never being built on, he was declaring a financial interest (on the CEC website) in developer Taylor-Wimpey, one of the major clients of Broadway Malyan, the consultants brought in by CEC to produce that utter waste of money the Wilmslow Vision..
Nick Jones
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 7:22 pm
@ Vic , @ Pete
Watergate,Weapons of Mass destruction,or Burlusconi Bunga Bunga parties not quite the same as; Adlington Rd,Lyme Green, Local Plan, Vote to build on Green belt.....But similarly progressed on the same concepts DECEIT, and what you can get away with.
Its not acceptable. it spoils party politics, conceals those who are genuinely acting with good intent and ruins our neighbourhoods.Time for new blood ..
Jack Pink
Tuesday 21st April 2015 at 8:13 pm
Where is that brownfield site? Can't believe there is a site like that in Wilmslow that hasn't been developed. Any help would be much appreciated
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at 11:45 am
The photo above is RH Stevens old transport yard in Macclesfield that already has planning permission for 144 houses.
It has been available for 4 years but developers lost interest when government changed its attitude to greenbelt land.
There will, no doubt, be others.
John Featherstone
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at 2:41 pm
well said vic with you all the way
Jack Pink
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at 6:31 pm
Given the vast amount of brownfield sites in Wilmslow, I'm surprised you didn't use an example closer to home. Also, how has green belt policy changed? I'm not aware of any houses being built on the green belt around here
Kerry Louise Burgess
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at 10:08 pm
Well said Vic!! I like your thinking- spot on!
Manuel Golding
Thursday 23rd April 2015 at 12:04 pm
Residents of Wilmslow has, over recent years, carefully tabulated the number of brownfield sites in Wilmslow. We have constantly updated this listing to CEC - the planners and political leadership is therefore only too well aware of these sites.

Interesting that both readers Jack Pink and Drew Donaldson seem willing to doubt RoWs work on such places. We welcome this opportunity to enhance our concerns with the way our current crop of Wilmslow CE councillors have acted in "the service" of their electorate! Vic has only too clearly set out just one example of the abjectly poor regard our Conservatives have for their electors.

What must be understood is that the NPPF does not designate any particular part of a council's domain that has to have development, only that the borough is required to build within its boundaries. Hence, the housing requirement for Wilmslow is an arbitrary one. The same must be said for commercial development.

With that in mind, it would be foolish and or perverse to see Wilmslow in isolation. Apart from Wilmslow's brownfields one must look at the borough as a whole and especially Macclesfield. Vic quite rightly pointed out the fault line in the NPPF, giving developers "life or death" options on local communities. His example of the old, derelict, eye sore of Stevens' old yard and the way developers have scorned using such sites, is a travesty of planning and an insult to communities. Developers are all for the easy, quick and big profit options by preferring to dig up and despoil green sites. With a declining population, Macclesfield is desperate for brownfield/sites redevelopment and has the very sites; these can accommodate well over a 1,000 new homes. But, and it is a big but, the developers shun such places, not considering the wider benefits to the local population, employment, financial and population requirements, opting to maximise their profits by digging into green fields.

Cheshire East's political leadership has consistently ignored RoWs, and Macclesfield's groups, pleas for brown development. in favour of the greedy developers desires. The political leadership has steadfastly, resolutely and consistently ignored these opportunities, favouring big developers greedy desires for easy and rich green development.

Jack Pink also asks "... how has green belt policy changed? I'm not aware of any houses being built on the green belt around here."

Not yet!!!

Surely you are only too aware, Mr Pink, that our CE Conservative councillors, including Wilmslow's very own Menlove, Whiteley and Barton, VOTED at the Special Council Meeting on the 28th February 2014, AGAINST the Independent group's amendment which would have taken out of the Local Plan all the borough's Green Belt and Safeguarded sites. By voting against they in fact voted for development on all the Green Belt and Safeguarded sites in the LP. Of course you haven't seen any Green Belts developed yet but as soon as the LP is approved by the IEP it will happen. The local Safeguarded site in that amendment is now being developed, Adlington Road.

As for Wilmslow's brownfields, there are numerous sites, to list just a few Remenham, Holly Rd N, Ned Yates and many more. Just look around Wilmslow, and Macclesfield, and you will see them.

But Mr Pink and Mr Donaldson, the blame for the fiasco we are facing is squarely at the door of our sycophantic Conservative councillors who are all too ready to jump to the Party's whip. These councillors have shown it is time for a change, a big and major change.

Wilmslow, now is the time for a seismic change. You've seen what your Conservative councillors have done for you so give the Residents of Wilmslow's Independents, David JEFFERAY (East) and Toni FOX (Dean Row) the opportunity to demonstrate the difference between voting for the dictat of the Conservative's or for Independent thought putting People Before Party. David and Toni are also concerned with many aspects of the current CEC's Wilmslow strategies - congested roads, schools, medical services & infrastructure to name but four.
Jack Pink
Thursday 23rd April 2015 at 7:24 pm
Yes the local plan does need to plan for the whole borough but it would be a pretty poor plan if it put all the housing in one place. However, that is pretty much what it does as it puts it in the south. I live in Wilmslow and want to see some growth here. 400 homes is pathetic considering the amount going in the south. The demand is in the north and if that means building on the green belt so be it. This plan will just make this area even more unaffordable which will suit most people as, bottom line is, they are concerned about protecting their house prices. Fortunately, the spread of housing is one of the major concerns and something the council are looking at. Fingers crossed Wilmslow gets what it needs and another 0 is added to that pathetic figure!
Vic Barlow
Friday 24th April 2015 at 10:16 am
I received the following message today from Council Leader Michael Jones.
In the interest of balance I believe it should be included in our debate and Councillor Jones agrees.
"Vic. Housing numbers are a natomal issue allied to growth and I am proud that we have the lowest unemployment in over ten years and 27 years in Crewe.

I can tell you that i and my officers have attended nearly 100 public meetings re the greenbelt and housing in the north.

We have happily considered all the brownfield sites residents and pressure groups have suggested, but we cannot force prople to bring them forward. 78% of our sites developed have been brownfield.

Many people state we want to build in areas of beauty but we simply do not. Infact we choose sites of little value and of low grade land like Handforth East, which will protect the rest of the greenbelt around Wilmslow, handforth and Alderley edge. It will stop pepperpotting and take traffic away from the congested A34.

It will provide much needed facilities including a new high school and funding to develop Handforth Town Centre.

Ironically, the residents of Adlington road have had development because we fought against development in Handforth safeguarded land because rssidents told us to. We lost and the inspector stated all safeguarded land should
be built on first, then the Adlington road application came.

So in short be careful what you ask for because independents have now succeeded in getting more houses in the greenbelt, the inspector stated this.

Labour will build more and have no regard for Cheshire, the rest have no power.

It is interesting that people assume we don't care when we do and the local councillors have campaigned hard to protect the greenbelt and it would be a shame if anyone else wins as it would see more greenbelt lost.

The council would return to be officer led and non responsive to residents."
Pete Taylor
Friday 24th April 2015 at 1:23 pm
Spelling and punctuation: 6/10.

Is Cllr Jones' plan to take on 500 houses from High Peak and build them in Handforth still on the table?
David Jefferay
Friday 24th April 2015 at 7:55 pm
I always thought the development of Adlington Road was the fault of the Council for allowing it to be developed whereas in fact it was the fault of the Adlington Road residents because they opposed development in Handforth. Silly me.
Friday 24th April 2015 at 8:15 pm
"The Inspector stated that all safeguarded land should be built on first" No. He was also critical of Cheshire East in not having reviewed the status of the land. Sorry but blaming others for failure achieves little
Pete Taylor
Friday 24th April 2015 at 10:31 pm
Quote from above, Michael Jones: Labour will build more and have no regard for Cheshire, the rest have no power.

"The rest have no power". Astounding arrogance

Power- I thought that those who sought to be elected to office on Councils, etc. had good intentions; they would go do good works for their fellow man. This bloke finally comes out of the woodwork, he wishes to RULE us.
Cllr. Barry Burkhill
Saturday 25th April 2015 at 5:55 pm
Here we have the present Conservative Leader of Cheshire East Council saying that they (the Conservatives) have chosen sites of little value and low grade land like Handforth East for development. What he fails to say is that this land is Greenbelt and not only that, it is Strategic Greenbelt which gives the residents of Handforth and Wilmslow our identity as being part of Cheshire and not Greater Manchester. Notice also that Michael Jones says that Handforth East has been chosen for development in the Conservative Local Plan submission. Sites must not be chosen for development without the proven need for development coming from irrefutable evidence but sites have been chosen, for the failed and hugely expensive Local Plan sumbmission, because of ownership. Cheshire East Council owns most of this Greenbelt and the Leader of the Council has said that he is going to "cash in" on Handforth's Greenbelt!
The Local Plan submission is being amended to try to pass the critical eye of the inspector but if the Conservative Group remains in control after 7th May, Handforth East Greenbelt will remain in the plan because Michael Jones is determined to build on it.
This North Cheshire Greenbelt is the line of defence which protects not only Handforth but also Wilmslow from development. The only way to stop this irrational threat is to vote for Independent Councillors who will not be forced by the Conservative Party Group to vote to incude it in the Local Plan.
Toni Fox
Sunday 26th April 2015 at 9:41 am
Email submitted to Councillor Jones in response to his message to Vic. In the interest of balance I would hope Councillor Jones will choose to enlighten us all with his response.

Councillor Jones,

Having so publicly claimed to the electorate that you consider Handforth East to be a site of "little value" and "low grade" and that it will "take traffic away from the congested A34" perhaps you can explain your rational given the hard evidence to the contrary:

CEC's own Green Belt study puts the site in the highest category.

It fulfils the purposes of the Green Belt to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another; to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust have stated “This is an area of land we have been trying to secure access to for a number of years to assess it for its potential to become a Local Wildlife Site”.

SEMMMS own traffic modelling shows that the extension of the A555 alone will INCREASE traffic on the A34 by 50%. This takes NO account of recently approved developments (200+ Adlington Road, 950 Woodford, 250+ Coppice Way) and NO proposals for development in the Local Plan.

Further the Local Plan offers NO commitment to a new high school and NO commitment to funding to develop Handforth Town Centre - your statement in this regard is total nonsense and as we, the electorate, are aware your personal assurances count for nothing.

Councillor Toni Fox
South Ward - Handforth Parish Council
Manuel Golding
Monday 27th April 2015 at 12:30 pm
Cllr Michael Jones makes some rather chilling threats to the electorate of Wilmslow and Handforth. Vote for his candidates or else you will get more than " what you ask for". This is the very rhetoric we have heard many a time, the threat to shut up or else.

He tells us that he and his officers have attended "nearly 100 public meetings". No one would dispute the number but what we do have issues with is the complete disregard for the overwhelming opinions of those attending these meetings. At the Adlington Rd meeting Cllr Jones, with Cllr Whiteley sitting next to him, clearly told the audience that he,, as Council Leader, was against that development. Unfortunately he mistakes quantity for quality. RoW and others firmly believe the Local Plan is all too obviously and clearly politically driven, not planner driven. At the Feb 28th Council Meeting, why is it that the assembled Conservative councillors, including three Wilmslow councillors - Menlove, Whiteley and Barton - all voted, without even one dissention, against an amendment to take out of the LP the Green Belt sites at Handforth East and Wilmslow and various Safeguarded sites like Adlington Rd if it was not a political decision by the Conservative Party? That voting travesty does not marry up with his claim "Ironically, the residents of Adlington road have had development because we fought against development in Handforth safeguarded land because rssidents told us to." (NB. Not my spelling errors). His party's voting fodder, including our Conservative councillors, so obviously did as required that day!

Has he really "considered all the brownfield sites" put to him? Our experience is that they are in the main disregarded on the basis that "developers find them more expensive" to develop than clean, green fields. At long last, the Government has awoken to developers easy option but is this council pushing "brownfields first"?

The Wilmslow Vision "consultation" showed a return of 84% respondents against Adlington Rd development. Council's response - totally ignored the public concerns and preference.
The other areas in the Vision returned similar responses.

According to Cllr Jones Handforth East is "of little value and of low grade land", thereby offering this as the reason for development at this site (he makes no mention of the "cash bonanza" he mentioned to councillors some time ago but you have to wonder). As stated before, here and elsewhere many times, Handforth East's strategic value is not in its land quality (good, bad or whatever I do not know) but in what it actually does. It is the strategic Green Belt division between Gt Manchester and Cheshire (East and county) and as such serves its purpose admirably. If Cllr Jones has his way, this part of Cheshire will merge into Gt Manchester. The council has plans for the eventual build of approx 2300 homes at
Handforth East Green Belt - that could be at least a further 4000 cars located there. Cllr
Jones believes this will "take traffic away from the congested A34". How? Where does he believe these vehicles will go, when, why and on what roads? No proper road studies were undertaken with neighbouring authorities prior to the LP being produced. We have seen no

Hopefully, the good, wise and sensible voters of Wilmslow will stand up to Cllr Jones' rather obvious threat to dare to vote for RoWs Independent candidates, or even those in Handforth, or as he so succinctly pits it, "So in short be careful what you ask for because independents have now succeeded in getting more houses in the greenbelt,".
It was the Wilmslow Conservative councillors, Menlove, Whiteley And Barton, who voted, en masse along with their party colleagues, to ensure we get more houses in the Green Belt, NOT the Independents.

We know the Conservative Party is truly worried about the electoral fate of two of their councillors, that is Menlove and Whiteley, both of whom voted against the overwhelming wishes of their electors at the Feb 28th Council Meeting. Why else would Cllt Jones be door knocking far from his ward? He told various very irate homeowners that "I apologise" to one, to another he blamed "the planners". We go back to that vote again, the vote by Conservative councillors (As you know Cllr Jones, planners do not have a vote!)

With your help we could bring Cllr Jones' worry to reality.
VOTE for RoWs INDEPENDENT candidates, David JEFFERAY (East) and Toni FOX (Dean Row)