Government gives green light to Handforth's garden village


Plans to create a new garden village on the eastern edge of Handforth have been given government backing today (Monday, 2nd January).

The North Cheshire Garden Village is one of 14 new garden villages (smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes) – from Devon to Derbyshire, Cornwall to Cumbria – which will have access to a £6 million fund over the next two financial years to support the delivery of these new projects.

The government says the money will be used to unlock the full capacity of sites, providing funding for additional resources and expertise to accelerate development and avoid delays.

The controversial scheme for 1650 new homes includes schools, health facilities, nurseries, community centres, play areas and sports facilities along with space for new businesses, including shops and cafes. The Cheshire East Local Plan also includes 14ha of land south of the Growth Village which is proposed for safeguarding – for development after 2030.

Cheshire East Council's Development Company, Engine of the North is promoting the new residential and community development which will be located near to Handforth Dean, between the A555 and the A34, and commissioned Hemingway Design to produce a 'vision' document for the village.

Councillor Jamie Macrae, Chairman of Engine of the North said: "The North Cheshire Garden Village could be an exemplar development for the area and back in March we began to discuss with the community the design quality of the proposals. We are really keen to engage as many local people as possible in the debate and really want to know what your views are in shaping the proposal."

Councillor Macrae added: "Our ambition is to create a new innovative approach to residential development creating sustainable communities within a quality environment. We also wish to ensure that any development complements the existing surrounding communities."

However, many locals have raised concerns that the creation of a new village at this site will put a big strain on local infrastructure and increase congestion on the A34 bypass.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said "Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.

"New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes."

In addition to funding, the government says it will provide support in terms of expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms.

The new garden projects will also have access to infrastructure funding programmes across government, such as the new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at this year's Autumn Statement.

North Cheshire Garden Village


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

Rick Andrews
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 11:34 am
Welcome to being part of Greater Manchester - only winners will be the housing and commercial development companies. Losers will be anyone wanting to use local roads, shopping and medical facilities which are already over capacity. I thought the government was due to review housing needs following Brexit? By the way, who appointed the management of "Engine of the North" ? How much are they paid?
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 12:39 pm
If I remember correctly - any "garden villages/towns" - were meant not to be "dormitory places". Seems to me that this has been ignored. Also, why is there no mention of the Woodford Garden Village in the Government news release? Can it be because they cannot justify both on the same Green Belt?

Not sure how this all works re Local Plan, - which is supposed to go to "consultation" again.
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 1:16 pm
I also wonder where newspapers get their information from.

The Guardian says, "North Cheshire garden village, which will sit on the eastern edge of Handforth, has development plans that include 2,000 homes, a nursery and a care home, as well as architect-designed “one-off” homes".

Thought the Care Home was on the other side next to M@S - the bit with the protected newts and the aquifers.

First I have heard of "architect -designed one- off homes" - unless, there is a developer waiting in the wings.

No mention made of the 2 form entry primary school only and no secondary school provision.
Guy Beardsley
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 1:25 pm
This development will bring new families, revenue and prosperity to the region. The world is expanding and we should embrace the use of areas such as this. Negativity here on this site will massively outweigh positive comments. This does NOT mean that the majority are against a scheme like this.

Rick, I wonder where you live? And whether your house was once on land such as the proposed site for this development
John Gibbons
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 5:33 pm
A lot of extra houses, people and journeys. We're told we must have more dwellings to keep up with demand, so I hope these are affordable for those currently prevented from buying.

While this scale of development in any location is going to impact on the road network, it appears (to me) to be in a fairly unloved field, won't upset many living close by. If we must have developments like this, perhaps alongside a bypass location like this is a fair compromise?
Oliver Romain
Monday 2nd January 2017 at 8:24 pm
'Other' people need somewhere to live too and this seems to be in a sensible location.
Roger Bagguley
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 10:19 am
Nothing new in what is being proposed for this site other than the rosy picture of a village scene within a rapidly emerging urban conurbation. I am assuming those of you who are pleased with the idea of thousands of new houses and jobs being created along the line of the A555 and the wealth this may bring to the area are content with the world being created for our young people and future generations.
I read above the world is expanding and wonder what this means? It rather seems to be the case the world economy is expanding and our leaders want a chunk of this. If London is the model for us all then no thank you very much.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 1:54 pm
There can be nothing to fear here - after all it's a "Garden Village."

There will just be a few quaint, half-timbered cottages, a friendly Inn by a village green where locals will while away their time with a few overs of cricket whilst ducks quack noisily on a nearby lily pond.

What could possibly go wrong?
Roger Bagguley
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 8:05 pm
Sharing a pint overlooking the duck pond can only be in our dreams.

Some interesting comments on on this one. Perhaps an extension of the GMT Metro to Alderley Park calling at all of the proposed developments is called for. Suggest a first class carriage for the Alderley Park link.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 9:35 pm
Are we allowed to make nominations for the "village" idiot?
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 5:02 pm
I repeat what I said on the Alderley site. Any provision for public transport or just designed for more and more cars, a good number of which at weekends and evenings half parked on footpaths because the internal roads are too narrow for ambulances and fire engines? Thought not.
Toni Fox
Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 6:53 pm
At the outset I will state that I am not opposed to more homes in the right location, but, as a local resident who has opposed this development from the outset here are a few facts that some of you may be unaware of.

Cheshire East Council own the majority of this Green Belt site - the previous leader of the Council publicly stated to Handforth's ward councillors that he was going to "cash in" on the sale of this land and use it to assist funding for the Congleton bypass.

Cheshire East Council decided which sites they would put forward for release from the Green Belt prior to undertaking any Green Belt assessment and therefore without having any knowledge or understanding of the graded "value" of each site considered in these assessments.

In excess of 98% of Handforth residents who responded to a survey conducted by a local residents group,(1,000 of Handforth's population of 6,500 responded) opposed development on Handforth's Green Belt land in favour of using its two brownfield sites.

The Airport Relief Road has only been designed to relieve current congestion on local roads - it has not been designed to cope with the proposed additional 18,000 (no, not a typing error) houses by both Cheshire East Council and Stockport Metropolitan Borough along this new corridor.

Traffic surveys have shown that on the opening of this road later this year junctions along the A34 corridor between Handforth and Wilmslow will operate over capacity prior to any new developments, including this one. This will impact on commuters in a much wider area than just Handforth - traffic on Manchester Road in Wilmslow for example is predicted to increase by 78% by 2030.

Wilmslow High School was oversubscribed in September 2016, as it has been for a number of years. 38% of those who requested this as their first choice of high school and who live within the catchment area did not get a place. There are no proposals for a new High School and discussions about increasing the capacity of Wilmslow High School have only just started, and, may have a detrimental impact on the Sports Academy Status of the school according to Sports England.

In the 1970's Greater Manchester were prevented by only one vote from changing local authority boundaries so that Handforth, Wilmslow and Poynton lay within the Greater Manchester authority. The removal of this site from the Green Belt weakens the arguement against this should or perhaps when GMA attempt this again.

After a comprehensive survey in 2015 part of this site has been designated a Local Wildlife Site by Cheshire Wildlife Trust due to its biodiverse habitat and the protected species within it. The rest of the site has a high agricultural use.

Local residents in Cheshire East and the surrounding areas use the proposed site for a variety of reasons. Smithy Model Aircraft Club, with over 100 members, have used a small area that they maintain for over a decade. Total Fitness instructors take classes there in the summer. It is used for team building exercises. It is used by dog walkers, ramblers, bird watchers, fishermen, runners and cyclists.

This site is a green lung in an ever expanding conurbation and could have been promoted and used for the benefit of the health and well being of residents.

Instead it will be used for housing whilst the brownfield sites in the northern towns of Cheshire East Council lie dormant.
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 10:27 pm
Dementia risk rises if you live near a main road - see national newspaper headlines Thursday 5th Jan. And don't forget the rising nitrogen dioxide and particulate levels. Seven million people were studied over a ten year period. It's very credible research.
It's the biggest killer in England and Wales.
A34 springs to mind, but how many more years before our council and government care about us? MPs and Cllrs at CEC take note please. What an opportunity for lawyers!
Alan Brough
Thursday 5th January 2017 at 9:30 am
@Terry Roeves

There has been significant evidence to suggest that living in close proximity to an airport increases cancer risk, as does living close to electricity pylons, that using mobile phones causes damage to internal organs, that breathing diesel fumes significantly increases respiratory illness .

When it comes to turning a quick profit, big businesses and the politicians they collude with have very little in the way of conscience.
David Lewis
Thursday 5th January 2017 at 10:16 pm
The 1650 homes in the new 'garden village' have been in the Cheshire East Local plan from its first draft in 2013 and have now been approved by the Planning Inspector after the consultations and hearings last year. So what's new? Well, it seems that as well as the huge profit on the sale of the land to developers the council will get a share of the £6m set aside for the 14 garden villages and towns around the country. Will local council tax payers see any benefits from this? Will the proposed increase in council tax be reduced as a result? Will there be better infrastructure provision - secondary schools for example? I doubt it. Would not the money from government be better spent on providing much needed affordable and starter homes for young couples? Lets hear from the council about this. Where's the joined up thinking between Cheshire East and central government?

Do we really believe the Inspector knew nothing of the garden villages scheme and it had no influence on his approving the Handforth East development?
Alasdair Carmichael
Wednesday 18th January 2017 at 6:57 pm
It should be noted that when the Cheshire East predecessor authority bought most of this land approximately 40 years ago it was to be used as a golf course as there was no chance of it ever being built on as it was Green Belt. Cheshire East now cashes in on land that was bought at agricultural prices and they are now going to sell at development prices.