Barlow's Beef: Don't be fooled by developer's meet and greet exercise

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As a commentator on local affairs I've observed the relationship between developers and council for many years. During that time I've seen developers grow exceedingly rich, landowners transform their fields into a lottery win while local residents got shafted.

I know the process. I've seen it too many times to be hoodwinked. It usually starts with some innocuous 'consultation.' In reality it's the first step of a softening-up exercise aimed at flushing out those who may object.

It all sounds innocent enough with 'transparency' being the buzz-word. In reality it's a probing exercise to test the strength of local resistance.

Sometimes the proposals that materialise suit the council (council offers planning consent in exchange for some strategic site they wish to acquire). When this occurs residents are bamboozled with technicalities and it's a straight run to the finish line.

Occasionally the plans proposed are rejected by both council and community but once in the public arena they rarely disappear.

So I feel more than a twinge of anxiety when I learn that Alderley Parish Council is 'listening' to Peter Higham acting agent for landowners and developers with an interest in land around the village.

As usual it's 'purely an information seeking exercise' and while I have the utmost regard for those brave councillors who formed Alderley Edge First I do not wish to see them blind-sided. Experience has taught me that all manner of 'incentives' and 'assurances' will be offered during negotiations but once the deal is done... all bets are off.

Retrospective planning consent and 106 Agreements can always be employed to work around any constraints. These are tactics at which large developers excel. They have experience, deep pockets and influence in areas where local communities do not.

The whole of Cheshire (if not the UK) is watching the newly formed Alderley Parish Council. They must not be deceived by their own naivety. There is no such thing as a cosy chat with developers. They're just gauging how big a steamroller they need to roll over you.

I'm sure Alderley councillors have the very best of intentions but they need to know how the game is played. They cannot afford to learn from experience.

They should not embrace any form of 'friendly relationship' it's a myth. Get every word 'on a voice recorder' and hire a good lawyer from the off.

As Winston Churchill famously said: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

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

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Vic Barlow
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Comments

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

Barry Stafford
Wednesday 23rd September 2015 at 12:18 pm
I totally agree with you Vic.. One of the new developments in Adlington on green fields are luxury 4/5 bed super executive homes.. WHAT happened to the homes for first time buyers or young families wanting to move up to a 'semi' .The roads around this site are not sufficient, to handle probably another 2-300 cars and delivery/service vehicles for these homes.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 23rd September 2015 at 2:33 pm
The invasion of the green belt was sold to residents as the answer to the UK's desperate shortage of affordable homes.
These are the last thing developers want to build and they are being allowed to build whatever they want.
Once they acquire the land all bets are off.
Those in need of homes now will be no closer to owning one BUT some developers will make massive fortunes .
How gullible can government be?
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 23rd September 2015 at 5:34 pm
Vic - having read this week that various institutions want oldies like me to "downsize" - I have to say - to what? The choice is a shoebox apartment with no garden or storage space,(the pack 'em in pile them high developers), a retirement village (keep them out of sight developers), or another small house. The latter can't be had without taking out a morgage!
Ryan Dance
Friday 25th September 2015 at 8:25 pm
Vic.... why don't you start reporting on failures of free market economics across industries... market exists to make a profit! Your point is what ????? (These developers are no different to the majority of the multinational producers for which you trade with daily).... do us a favour. Write an article on something more interesting than .... development.... dogs or political preferences.
Peter Davenport
Friday 25th September 2015 at 10:11 pm
It seems that the new Alderley Council have forgotten the as advertised on Chelford, that Jones is proposing quite a lot of new houses, right at the side of the A34.
There are signs there, but there were signs put up by Jones for Adlington Road development, but without permission. These were removed promptly, as there was no permission for them, where they were put. I have seen the signs of the intended Chelford Road site from the A34. Do they have permission?
Also , forgotten in the rush for all the developments in Alderley, Wilmslow and Handforth, has anyone enquired as to the capacities of water and sewage services, never mind the roads, because when these were built, all 23 places were consiedably smaller, and no public body thinks 20 years in advance. Confirmation of that will be the lack of electric supplies, maybe this winter, if very cold!
Stuart Redgard
Saturday 26th September 2015 at 9:17 pm
@Ryan Dance

Your comment "market exists to make a profit" intrigues me. Maybe Vic's next article could look at where free market economics has been introduced into areas where making a profit isn't the aim of the enterprise. Things such as public sector services like

1) health care of those who do not have the income to pay for private healthcare (i.e. the NHS)

2) education of those that do to have the the income to pay for private education (i.e. Local Authority Schools in the 5 to 16 age range)


and the list goes on ....