7000 more homes added to Local Plan & Wilmslow's share looks set to increase


Cheshire East Council has announced today that the number of new homes needed in Cheshire East by 2030 is 36,000 - 7000 more than were identified in the submitted version of the Local Plan.

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, confirmed at a media briefing today that this would mean more new houses in the north of the borough, with the Inspector having identified the need for more new homes in Wilmslow, Knutsford and Poynton.

Cllr Michael Jones said today "There will not be massive incursion into the green belt by the new numbers. There will always have to be development in the north. The naysayers got it wrong by saying you don't need all this, the Inspector clearly said I don't agree. As a consequence and a good job to them we've now got more numbers in the north.

"I don't necessarily think that's right, but he said it so we have to support it and he's given clarity and that's what we asked for so we'll have to deliver more. Which shall mean by definition more houses in the green belt because there is only green belt in the north and brownfield sites, but we're going to look to minimise that everywhere and certainly we don't see vast sways of the green belt around the north. We don't see that happening. The naysayers and the scaremongers have got it wrong."

According to a series of reports released by the Council today, the increase in new homes is needed to provide for the rising numbers of jobs being created in the area.

Ekosgen, economic development consultants, have projected an average growth rate of 0.7% per year between now and 2030. This compares to a growth rate of 0.4% envisaged in 2009, when work began on the Local Plan.

As a result, Cheshire East Council is making plans to accommodate an estimated 31,410 net new jobs, which are likely to be created in Cheshire East by 2030. The initial version of the Local Plan envisaged net jobs growth of 13,900.

Cllr Rachel Bailey has been appointed to take over the Local Plan from former councillor Peter Raynes on May 27th and will start the task of reviewing all the site allocations.

When I asked about the need for more housing in the north, Cllr Michael Jones replied "The Inspector mentioned three areas. He said Knutsford, he said Wilmslow and he said Poynton.

"We are not going to go back to him and say you are wrong, that's not our way, we are going to take his notice of information and bring it forward and look at those areas but we are going to try and do it through brownfield sites first."

He added "We always believed the jobs growth in the north will be scientific, high quality and high end needing less numbers, whereas the south will be engineering and manufacturing needing more numbers. We are not going to go away from that concept but we do accept his view and we take the clarity that he has given and we are going o deliver it.

"Do we think they'll be more?. Will there be 1000, 1500, 2000?, I don't know but you've got a situation for movement here and we're committed to working with our members to see what we can do.

"I don't think the developers are sitting there licking their lips and going to be very happy. I think we are going to work with people to get the right sites in and we've got sites already know, like Alderley Park with up to 300 houses there which has been heavily debated. That site may well come into it now as an example. Which I think we would all look at being good quality decision making although obviously losing greenbelt is not good."

He continued "We'll look at the three areas the Inspector said: Poynton, Knutsford and Wilmslow. I think the naysayers in Wilmslow have done damage to that argument themselves.

"Those people need to think carefully about how they present these things to the Inspector as sometimes you do get the reaction you don't want. Rather than saying you get nothing, you get a lot more. that is unfortunate but it's not going to be massively more.

"The issue is we've already got 33,000 identified out of the 36,000 so there's not that much of a gap to close. That's mainly because we've been very aggressive giving permissions. We've given over 22,000 permissions already in the past 5 years."

When asked if he was giving up on the North Cheshire Growth Village, Cllr Michael Jones said "I am not giving up on it. It's not for me to decide, but you say to me would it be in I'd put money on it because it is the right thing to do. I think it's the right way to develop."

Speaking about the estimated growth in jobs, Cllr Michael Jones said "When we began work on the Local Plan in 2009, we were midst of a deep recession, during which the UK's GDP fell by 7.2%.

"In 2012, the sun started shining again and Cheshire East is now in the midst of a jobs boom."

"Cheshire East now has more businesses per head than any other North West district. Seventeen of the region's top 200 companies are headquartered in the Borough and 14 of our small and medium-sized businesses were named in 1,000 companies to Inspire Britain, a special report published by the London Stock Exchange.

"Because a good proportion of our existing workforce will reach retirement age in the next few years, this means that we need to attract more people into the Borough to maintain our strong economy.

"Cheshire East is a victim of its own success. Unless we want to see our roads clogged by a huge increase in commuter journeys into the area, we need to provide more housing locally to accommodate the likely increase in the number of people working in the Borough."

He added "We do not envisage major change to the green belt. We are committed to protecting our beautiful countryside and we will accommodate as much as possible of the additional new homes on brownfield sites.

"For example, work is already under way to create two new neighbourhoods close to Macclesfield town centre, which will provide up to 300 new homes on previously developed land. We are assessing all of our green belt land to ensure that we can protect the most important locations where development is least appropriate.

"Most towns and villages have played their part in providing allocated sites for a proportion of the overall housing number and will continue to do so.

"The Council will continue to support its residents, who tell us repeatedly that they do not want inappropriate and unsustainable development.

"We will maintain our rigorous approach in resisting proposals which clearly have an adverse impact on the sustainable development of the Borough.

"Our priority now is to put a strong plan in place that ensures we have the homes we need to match our growing economic success. We maintain that a plan-led approach to development provides the best approach for meeting the needs of future generations, whilst still maintaining the special character of this Borough."

The Council released evidence today covering economic strategy, housing need, green belt and spatial distribution. This will inform further work which will be submitted to the Inspector by the end of July.

It is anticipated that initial examination hearings will then resume in the early autumn.

Local Plan


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

Justin Handby
Wednesday 13th May 2015 at 8:12 pm
Not against more houses in the area so long as the infastructure is there. Schools, doctors, roads etc. All the new houses at Adlington Rd, on top of what is planned and we have no news on new schools. Closest school to there is Dean Oaks which is over subscribed again for this September.
Dean Row Road is struggling to cope already, planned upgrades to the A34 slip road are a small step, but look at the traffic problems all round there, and oh so close to that school.
Think outside the box CEC, why not look at a new garden village somewhere. This many new homes need the infastructure that goes with them so why not do it all in one new place? Recent example of Buckshaw Village nr. Chorley, Lancs.
Barry Lawlor
Wednesday 13th May 2015 at 8:32 pm
Over subscribed means more applicants than places- check out the stats. Dean Oaks is not over subscribed.

New garden village- what was Handforth East then?
Gary Barton
Wednesday 13th May 2015 at 10:13 pm
It is frustrating that the initial Cheshire East submission was opposed by so many local groups. They believed that they could reject all development and that opposition now means that a low number has grown.

Handforth East should be examined closely as an idea as it means building new infrastructure rather than trying to wedge too many houses into already overstretched roads and schools in Wilmslow. That was the problem with Adlington Road - too many houses in the space.

We will do everything we can to protect vital greenbelt around the town, especially that greenbelt that separates Wilmslow from Alderley Edge and Chorley village.
Jack Pink
Wednesday 13th May 2015 at 11:04 pm
Good news. The "growth" planned for wilmslow was pathetic. Now we can get on with planning some proper urban extensions. Hopefully, we will see nearer 2000 homes planned for the town as that's probably what's needed.
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 6:54 am
Gary: Nobody in any of the local groups you refer to ever rejected all development. Their opposition has always been based upon the fact that there are sufficient brownfield sites in and around Wilmslow to meet all current growth requirements. Sufficient empty offices too. This remains the case even with the increase in the number of the houses required. Today you can build in Wilmslow twice the 400 required of the original plan. This is particularly true as you and your ilk have allowed the bulldozers on to Adlington Road. In order to do all you can to protect the Green Belt around the town you have to activate your new "Brownfield First" policy. To achieve this you have to produce procedures and practices that you pursue with unflinching determination. As a person living in Wilmslow West I can have very little faith in your determination to do all you can to protect our Green Belt when in the same breath you tell us green spaces offer advantages like new infrastructure. In other words you favour the development of the Green Belt around Wilmslow to imaginative planning to take advantage of the brownfield opportunities available to you.

Like your leader at Cheshire East you want to blame people who criticised much of the Local Plan for the increase in the number of houses required in Wilmslow. We are not daft: The increase in the number of houses anywhere in Cheshire East is down to blind ambition and to incompetence on the part of those who produced the plan. You and yours were told from the outset your Plan was flawed. The inspector has given you a chance to put it right. He has given you advice but no guarantees he will accept your amendments. He has a responsibility to protect the Green Belt. He may well decide your rewrite is a new plan and reject it on the grounds you have not consulted the people. Fingers crossed Gary that in protecting your leaders you are backing the right horse.
Vic Barlow
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 8:41 am
Don't see any mention of additional highways schools hospitals?
Does anyone have a clue how an additional 7000 homes will prevent congestion?
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 9:28 am
No Vic. The whole thing floats on a wing and a prayer. Is the picture Jack paints what is mean't by "Being in the Pink?" I am mindful of my forever favourite TV advertisement. Remember the little space merchants, "For Mash get Smash."
Nick Jones
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 10:10 am
Michael Jones (re; Adlington Rd fields)... “Will never be built on” ????? Lyme Green ......(development starts before submission of plans)...an expensive ongoing folly with “serious management failings” ?????....... arose on Menlove’s watch. Then 28/2/14 Menlove, Barton and Whiteley party whip vote. NOT to protect Green belt....... (Not aware of any explanation ever being proffered)......No doubt with the same haste Adlington Rd development commenced, The bulldozer’s will soon be active at; Royal London, Wilmslow Business Park, Handforth East, Prestbury Rd,Upcast Lane ...( CEC website for details).. Of all the political sins, hypocrisy is worst, but then history does have a strange habit of repeating itself...Recent election results are not a ‘green light’ for CEC to similarly bulldoze Greenbelt into Suburbia. Sensible development -Yes, Use of brownfield sites- Yes. Realistically developers don’t want the cost of preparing brownfield ground work, it’s more cost efficient to build on new land and there is no incentive from to direct them to consider brownfield...My scant knowledge of planned neighbouring Woodford development of houses also proposes no secondary school and other than the A6 link road, existing resources will be tested further...Common sense, (which seems missing in some quarters and is an identified strange bedfellow to some cllrs in others) must prevail...... However, from recent experience I somehow doubt it will....... As Sir Humphrey Appleby once said “..Policy has nothing to do with common sense”.......and don’t we know it.
David Lewis
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 10:23 am
Residents of Wilmslow are not opposed to development per se but are opposed to unneccessary development in the greenbelt when it is plain that enough brownfield sites are available. Legislation talks about sustainable development. Development in the greenbelt is not sustainable; once used it cannot be replaced unlike sustainable resources such as certain trees which can be replanted. Large numbers of houses have already been built in the period covered by the Local Plan on windfall brownfield sites.
Rod Menlove
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 10:40 am
The support documentation is extensive and offers guidance on some of the points raised so far.
The four papers on Green Belt contain rankings of local GB parcels that probably will be used as indicators for future site allocation studies. Curiously, the figures given for brownfield/windfall are much lower than other estimates.
Can anyone with professional knowledge comment on the conversion of purpose built office blocks to dwellings? Thankfully we do not live under a command regime so it would be up to the owners of these offices to take the initiative were they to consider conversion of vacant space to be commercially viable. So far they have not, so why not?
Manuel Golding
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 10:50 am
Having listened to Cllr Jones on the BBC's NW Tonight and Radio Manchester, one is left with the impression that Michael Jones is living in the nether world if he imagines that building well over 3000 new homes in Wilmslow's & Handforth's Green Belts us going to reduce traffic numbers on our roads, including the A34. This is before we even look at the increase in Whatever he's been taking, I want some of it! And, what about the as yet unplanned infrastructure, medical services, local roads, schools etc?

Looking at the council's LP "alterations", which it will say are "minor", show a 100% increase in jobs and a 30% increase in housing, begs further questions. These increases ar not minor but very much major; the Inspector cannot see these as anything more than a new LP being necessary, ditch the old and start again. The other question is where have they conjured up these figures from? Whose imagination? Whose dream? Any idiot can make fantasy projections - you feed into the programme whatever you wish to produce the required answer.

Not wishing to be a cynic, but who can possibly not be when dealing with this council, its leadership and Conservative Party councillors (see Cllr Barton's ludicrous comment above - RoW has opposed UNNECESSARY Green Belt development when there is a supply of Brown fields available, as we've constantly reminded Cllr Jones & Wlm Conservative councillors).

What I wonder, would have been the local councils' election results had this latest wheeze been published last week before the election? Cynicism wins the day!
Anthony Harrison
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 3:57 pm
As a lifelong resident of Handforth and a Conservative party member I have always been quite outspoken about my views on the local plan and the protection of CEC's strategic greenbelt. Moreover, as a former candidate in the recent elections I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet candidates and residents from all parties and those standing as 'independents', not only in Handforth but right across CEC, both unitary council and parliamentary and the one question I had for them all was "what is your solution and where SPECIFICALLY (which sites) would you propose for development?". Many refused to answer or gave a wishy-washy answer which had no specifics as to site allocation, so where should be developed, which specific brownfield sites have you identified and how many houses would you propose for each? I know sites that I have identified but I am interested in hearing yours!
Chris Wigley
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 5:23 pm
In response to Anthony Harrison I would have nominated the Earl Road 14 acre site that was own by (or may be it still is) Cheshire East before its decision of disposal. Cheshire East had been keen for this to be developed by Next. The site could have been used to build affordable housing and has access to the A34 as well as Stanley Green. If this brown field site had been used it would have kept development within the western curtilage of the A34 and helped to preserve the eastern side (where it was proposed Handforth East would be developed). At 30 houses per hectare this would have provided around 100 homes on a site that has lain waste for many years.

Additionally I wonder why the development of around 20 houses was refused permission at the former Knowle House at the end of Sagars Road? This again is a brown field site.

Small developments like these I think are far more acceptable than going for vanity developments like Handforth East which waste green belt land. A project that Stockport MBC will oppose because of the impact it will have on its own resources.

We also need to consider potential congestion in Handforth when SEMMS opens in the autumn of 2017. One of the problems in Handforth that we have is the lack of public transport. We have an awarding winning station that is inaccessible to those with mobility difficulties and push chairs. After 6:30 pm we have one train an hour, far inferior to Cheadle Hulme, Heald Green or Wilmslow - is it really beyond the wit of our authority to negotiate Arriva Trains Wales that off peak their trains stop at Handforth? We have bus services that do not run off-peak. Handforth has no direct public transport access to Manchester Airport or the major teaching hospital at Wythenshawe, let alone Wythenshawe shopping centre. On the otherhand both Wilmslow and Styal are served by the 200.

I really do wonder if Handforth and indeed Wilmslow would be better negotiating for the protection of their green belt with Stockport MBC and move into Greater Manchester, Bramhall, Cheadle, Gatley to fare much better than we do, as do Hale, Bowden and Altrincham in Trafford. The potential loss of council tax revenue would I think allow Cheshire East to concentrate its collective mind.
Julie Green
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 5:51 pm
How many empty dwellings are there in the North of the Borough which could be brought back into use? Also, look at all the larger homes which are being dropped in Wilmslow, Alderley and Prestbury. You could put several very nice smaller family homes on some of those sites instead of the current fashion for even bigger millionaire homes...
David Jefferay
Thursday 14th May 2015 at 7:51 pm
One often overlooked factor is the Council's targets for the provision of affordable housing and the means they have at their disposal to provide that housing. They have limited options other than placing planning obligations on developers of large sites to provide those houses.

In truth, there are sufficient small brownfield sites in Wilmslow to meet the housing targets without building on greenbelt (Residents of Wilmslow can prove that) but the developers of smaller sites (up to about 14 units) cannot be compelled to provide affordable housing (or contribute S106 monies). That is (one of) the main reason(s) why Cheshire East pushes larger developments and ignores the available smaller brownfield sites.
Friday 15th May 2015 at 12:25 pm
Firstly, yes, - the parcels of land identified in the new Green Belt Assessment are "ranked", but, what the document fails to say is that the "rankings" of some parcels of land have changed between the last Local Plan and this Local Plan despite nothing having changed anywhere near the relevant fields. Two fields next to each and equidistant from neighbouring settlements are in different "rankings" despite the fact that these are identical fields with identical sheep on them.

Secondly, some of the parcels of land have appeared in this document for the first time,- despite one of the sites actually being partly "brownfield" and which could have been developed if Cheshire East was putting brownfield first.

Thirdly, local authority reports going back as far as 2010 have consistently commented on the high "vacancy rate" in a number of towns, including Wilmslow. In 2012 this was quantified as 5.7% in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Handforth. In other words there are homes standing empty, but Cheshire East has not the will to find out where they are and to try and ensure they are brought back into use.

Fourthly, office blocks are converted to residential use all the time in London and other major towns. Space above shops is converted to accomodation all the time in London and other major towns. Has Cheshire East shown the will to promote this? - No.

Finally, if I remember correctly, our Town Council chose to put off starting to formulate a Neighbourhood Plan until after this election. Legally, the one document which makes it harder for developers to develop on the Green Belt is a Neighbourhood Plan. I am again led to the conclusion that promises coming from Cheshire East to protect the Green Belt are hollow. Not to worry, since as the documentation makes clear, we will still have GreenBelt - except it is called "Green Gap" situated between Crewe and Nantwich.
Rod Menlove
Friday 15th May 2015 at 5:35 pm
You have made some assertions that are questionable.
Cheshire East as a Planning Authority is obliged to receive and consider Planning Applications that then have to be evaluated according to national and local policies.
Therefore if anyone wishes to put in applications for the 'available smaller brownfield sites' then they will and these will be considered not 'ignored'. If applications have not been submitted then that is the business of the owners of the land and nobody else. Similarly the Planning Dept can not and does not 'push larger developments'. Therefore you have been misled on these allegations.
Your other assertion is that there are sufficient small brownfield sites in Wilmslow to meet housing targets. That may or may not be correct so please quantify the housing number you refer to as the 'target' so that the debate can be meaningful. Be mindful also that 78% of the CE granted permissions have been for brownfield sites.
Friday 15th May 2015 at 6:49 pm
"Be mindful that the 78% of the Cheshire East granted permission have been for brownfield sites". One question, what percentage of the 78% have been in Wilmslow? What percentage have been in Crewe and Nantwich?
Stuart Redgard
Friday 15th May 2015 at 9:06 pm
@ Gary Barton. Can you please clarify exactly which "local groups" "reject all development". I am not aware of one, but I could be wrong. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

And it would also be good to know exactly which greenbelt around the town you believe is vital, and which is not.

For instance, do you believe "that greenbelt that separates Wilmslow from Alderley Edge and Chorley village" (which is in the ward you represent) more vital than any other?
David Jefferay
Sunday 17th May 2015 at 8:19 pm
Hi Rod,
I accept that applications for smaller brownfield sites will be considered by the planning department, not ignored, but I do not accept that they haven’t been largely ignored with regards to the Local Plan submission or that CEC has not pushed larger developments by placing greater emphasis on them in the Local Plan submission. As far as I see it, much of the future housing demand is assumed to be from large developments rather than taking into account the smaller developments and windfall already in progress or completed since the start of the Local Plan period.

That may be due to the fact that until recently, and it may still be the case, CEC had no mechanism for tracking house development from approving planning permission to completion and therefore had no record of the number of completions over that period. Residents of Wilmslow provided that information for the Wilmslow area but, if they did not have it for Wilmslow, I suspect that information is still missing for the rest of the borough. Please do correct me if I am wrong.

Regarding my assertion that there are sufficient small brownfield sites in Wilmslow to meet housing targets. The target to which I refer is the 400 houses required by the Local Plan (granted, I’m referring to a document that has now been rejected due to "serious shortcomings" and "significant flaws" but that’s the nearest we have until we have the revised figures). However, unless the target doubles, RoW still asserts that the housing needs can be met using Brownfield. RoW periodically provides an update on the state of play with regards numbers on the website http://bit.ly/1dbH3FQ.

Regarding the CEC assertion that 78% of the CE granted permissions have been for brownfield sites, I would rather it was considerably higher than that. However, it is of little interest to me as those applications are in the past. I am more concerned about future applications.

Anyway, it is good to see you engaging on here.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 17th May 2015 at 8:52 pm
Cllr. Menlove, the 78% of planning applications you refer to: please could you provide a link to your source information? Are you referring to the number of applications or the number of dwellings?
Welcome to this forum: one thing that you will need to bear in mind is that the internet has an infinitely long memory. Would you care to comment on why you did not support the initiative to protect the Green Belt around Wilmslow and Handforth when given the opportunity at the Special CEC meeting?
Approximately how many dwellings for key workers do you estimate could be accommodated at Lyme Green?
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 1:41 pm
RoW and counterparts in Handforth eat your hearts out! When are you going to get the message that the Govt Inspector and CEC Leader Jones have a broader, more responsible, approach and vision than your insular nimbyism. The Inspector has not only put your bleating back into its pen but has raised the bar for getting the plan right.
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 1:53 pm
Julie - great point. If we can rid the area of all these pesky millionaires then fewer people will want to pay top notch to live here and the greedy (yes they are) developers (can we stop using the word develop as this implies improvement) won't be so keen to build their "cookie cutter" estates.
We were told a few years that we needed these houses for our growing local population. Now we are told it is because East Cheshire Council (aren't they brilliant) is providing another 31,000 jobs over the next 15 years. Where are these 31,000 people coming from and will they be able to afford the prices asked in the north east Cheshire area. Why does 31,000 jobs need 36,000 houses?
GMC is continuing in its aim to surround the affluent areas it has coveted for years and, if it is not watched very carefully East Cheshire Council will be consumed well before 2030.
Andrew Backhouse
Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 4:53 pm
I wish that planners and developers could be innovative and could think about using less space and putting things where they can be accessible by public transport, walking and bikes (rather than building new villages accessible only by bypasses to other places).
Why do we build so much detached housing (because it sells best probably) when we really need to be building social housing, and other housing for rent, which could happily be terraces and flats? Why don't we concentrate building new stuff near railway stations? Why do we all like living in large detached houses with lots of empty bedrooms too?

It's not all the planners and developers fault, but I do wish people could think longer term for the environment for us all. How could we encourage everyone to think creatively for the good of us all?
Jack Pink
Thursday 28th May 2015 at 9:29 pm
Smaller sites haven't been ignored, they will come later. First part of plan is about strategic sites, which are larger in scale. There is probably a higher proportion of brownfield consents in Crewe because they have more. There isn't much in Wilmslow, hence the need to take some land from the green belt. Jackie, you can have brownfield sites in the green belt. Not all about beautiful countryside.