Reader's Letter: A housing shortage?? Don't think so!


The rape of north Cheshire East's, and Wilmslow's and Handforth's, Green Belt will be unchecked thanks to the continuing disregard of the real facts of the so called national housing shortage by government, councils' incompetent planning departments and so called "independent" Planning Inspectors.

All these are fuelled by bullying, greedy, uncaring builders/developers/land owners and their equally grasping land agents (no names mentioned). The victims, local communities, will see their green fields disappear under concrete, gone for ever to fuel greed on an industrial scale.

According to a U.N. report, circa 2010, on world population growth, the UK has 1.8 children per couple. As the report points out, this is not growth, quite the opposite. So I ask, where has the purported demand for housing come about? Not from Britain's inhabitants.

A recent report by Ian Mulheim, Director of Consulting at Oxford Economics and a former Treasury economist, informs the world that in truth Britain has 1.4 million EMPTY homes (some of these will be "second homes"). He asserts "the reality - or at least, the best evidence......... is that the number of UK households has been growing at ONLY 152k per year since 2008. Consequently we now appear to have a whopping 1.2 million FEWER households....... than we anticipated in 2008."

Mulheim shows that far from the builders bullying planners to get their paws on ever more Green Belt, the opposite is true. There is no real demand, it is all a gigantic financial stategy of deceit. They don't need the Green Belt, communities such as ours do.

All this before we even consider the builders stocking up on their land-banks. The corrupt scenario is that a council refuses planning, miffed builders dash to appeal, throwing big money at such whilst councils have to use tax payer resources to defend. The builders argument is that "the council cannot show it has a 5 year supply of development". The builder wins BUT does not necessarily start building, instead banks the land. And repeats the strategy after every planning decision against development.

It is about time Government saw through this grubby charade of land banking. Tough financial penalties are needed to deter such anti-social practice - build now or suffer massive fines, money does have a habit of focusing the mind.

Government repeatedly states that the Green Belt "is safe" in its hands. Is it really? The reality is quite the opposite. We do not need to sacrifice any Green Belt locally, the housing projections are very badly flawed and there are ample Brownfield sites around the north of the Borough. Of course, developers being lazy and always looking for the most profitable sites, will prefer to put their diggers into pristine Green fields - much cheaper all round and helps massively to inflate their selling prices and swell profits.

If the Conservative government strategy is now to renege on its manifesto promise, it shouldn't be surprise when its core voters turn away.

When will somebody in government, in council planning, even a Inspector, open their eyes to the reality and see clearly that the building industry's argument is akin to "the emperor is starkers!"

Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) has consistently argued the case that projected growth, housing and commercial build, are all overstated. But we are battling against closed eyes and against a vested commercial interest. Unfortunately for Wilmslow's voters, the town's and Borough's Conservative councillors have fallen in line with the Party's continuing deception of the electorate. RoW is determined to put Wilmslow's residents first, not Party first as we see elsewhere.

Ian Mulheim's article may be read here.

Please consider signing this petition.

Reader's Letter


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

Pete Taylor
Monday 6th February 2017 at 7:32 pm
Ever since the discredited "Wilmslow Vision" I have been unable to understand the astounding number of new houses which CEC says are needed. It defies all logic, particularly as hundreds of sites have already been designated but not built on.

Of course, in other circumstances, one could raise this issue with one's Member of Parliament; however I suspect that as Tatton Conservatives are bankrolled by at least one house-builder, there seems little point.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 7th February 2017 at 7:50 am
As the ‘planning’ white paper is presented to parliament today, a common theme reflected from councils across the length and breadth of the country in National press, is that Localism has not only been ignored but ridden rough shod over, where carefully considered meaningful Local Plan development is steamrollered through by National Plan.Green belt development favoured at the expense of brown field. The interpretation of categories “ Appropriate Development “ “ Very Special Circumstances” and “ Exceptional Circumstances” actually morphing interpretational meaning into meaningless. Local Authorities should do more to identify their ‘Amberfield’ developments ( Ie; Land ready to be developed) and land banked by developers. The population needs more houses, a fact we can all agree on, and support, but first time buyers (with exception) generally wont able to afford the significant developments we have already seen and those appear planned in our area. Evidenced in these pages councillors were supported at the ballot box on their promise to protect the green belt. They were then duly evidenced to fail their electorate doing quite the opposite. Such deception merely hastens the need for an independent steadfast representative .
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 8th February 2017 at 6:06 pm
A hugely expensive Local Plan, largely incapable of understanding by us residents of Cheshire East is many many years late. With so many houses for commuters to outside the borough and little or no benefit from exports, our economic future here continues as a cash cow, making no contribution to reducing our national debt.
It now gets closer to a government deadline for it to be rejected, when national government will take on the task.
The blame culture will be rampant. CEC will be off the hook. Wilmslow could be divided and our MP with an exit route, long gone.
Government will add more greenfields to be concreted over.
No one at CEC will be fired. No one will be accountable.
Will national government listen to us? Or to WTC? Or to our CEC Cllrs?
Wilmslow will experience the worst of both worlds.
Solution? Ballot box, but by then will it be too late?
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 8th February 2017 at 8:23 pm
Get rid of the Blue Sky thinkers. There are to many "running" this country and producing disaster after disaster.
John Fallows
Thursday 9th February 2017 at 9:26 am
The Emperor's New Clothes come to mind yet again. Local residents can see through the misinterpreted figures & fallacious consultations but unfortunately this clarity of vision seems entirely lacking in those who have the power to make decisions - supposedly in response to our local needs & wishes.

Houses for sale do not sell very quickly, every week we read of new developments which are ignored in the housing calculations (e.g. flats being developed on the nursing home site on Adlington Road), calculations are done on out-of-date or incorrect figures (see above), brown field sites & windfalls are underestimated or ignored, adjacent developments (Woodford etc) are downplayed or disregarded, infrastructure needs are ignored. Traffic analysis is at best optimistic - as any driver in the area could tell you based on the existing traffic difficulties.

Like many residents, I'm sure, I endorse Manuel's analysis and conclusions.
Chris Neill
Friday 10th February 2017 at 8:31 am
Manuel has hit the spot with his well written comments. Builders, planners and governing bodies are raping this green and pleasant land. Builders want to get rich, it's their mission, so they will always go the extra mile and win the day over civil servants, who want a quiet life , security and a pension.
The net result is what Wilmslow town has become,an area where almost every square inch of land is greedily built over, a town choked with ever increasing traffic, as well as more deadly exhaust fumes. Not to mention the totally collapsing infrastructure getting worse by the day, with no contribution to this collapse or to architectural improvement to the town , created by this insatiable greed.
How do we stop it all ?
Maybe a body of media investigative journalists can expose the truths stated in Manuels article ? Anybody out there ?
Buster Wild
Friday 10th February 2017 at 5:20 pm
Official figures for net immigration into U.K. Is a shade under 330,000 per year. In ten years the total will most likely be 3.5 million, in twenty years up to 8 million extra, and so on. If we don't build houses on the green belt now where is this extra population expected to live. There will not be enough brown field sites as they will have been used to build the factories for the Northern Powerhouse. Is this a case of " Not in my backyard."
Sarah Glover
Friday 10th February 2017 at 6:06 pm
I agree with the majority of comments here. As someone who's recently got on the property ladder I'm all too aware of how hard it is (8 years of saving, no parental help and once the deposit was saved it took us 2 and half years of putting in offers to finally get one to go through to completion!). Yet I don't think building more unaffordable houses or houses for landlords to snap up and rent out to younger generations is the answer. Houses in the area at all price points that are currently on the market are not being snapped up quickly, if my Rightmove alerts are anything to go by. In fact a lot are being reduced. I also don't think that building 1000s of new homes without putting the infrastructure in first and at the expense of existing communities and our countryside is a great idea.

I attended a Handforth Neighbourhood Plan meeting this week, and this is what I took away from it.

The Neighbourhood Plan is supposed to give communities a say in the implementation of Cheshire East's Local Plan for Handforth. Here we learned that Cheshire East Council:

- Have removed the Handforth Garden Village from the remit of Handforth Parish's Neighbourhood Plan, despite it sitting well within the Parish boundary

- Made it unclear whether Handforth Parish will receive the 15% CIL money it is legally entitled to from the development.

It means Handforth's Neighbourhood plan has no influence over the 1500 new homes and services being built on the green belt within its boundaries.

In addition the CS49 green belt development (Clay Lane/Sagars Road) of 250 new homes falls within the parish of Styal, not Handforth, so again no influence on the development for Handforth residents here either, and then there's the real kicker. There's no sign that Styal parish is going to build any roads to connect this development to Styal village. Instead it's proposed the entrance and exit will lie solely through Handforth's residential Meriton Road. This despite the Department for Transport's own best practice guidance which states that new housing estates should contain multiple entrance/exit routes to create better integration with the existing community, and encourage walking and cycling. People living in this area will use Handforth's roads and facilities while the CIL money will be going to Styal parish. How is that fair?

The promised infrastructure for the Garden Village (healthcare, schools etc....) cannot be built until 3-400 homes are completed on the site. Where is the self-sustainable development promised by government and CEC? Where is the capacity in the local area going to come from to allow existing services to cope until new facilities are built?

It's disappointing that CEC has not taken seriously:

- their role in explaining the impact of these big developments to all residents clearly
- the consultation feedback on the problems developments will cause.

It's also disappointing when considering the above, the lengths CEC has gone to, to prevent the community's voice being meaningfully heard

Anyone living in the area who wants to try to halt the developments and/or improve the council's treatment of it's citizens (There is some urgency required as plans for the Garden Village have started and likely to be put out for consultation in the Summer):

- Complete the Neighbourhood Plan survey posted through your door. This at least gives you a say on services and infrastructure that are affected by these sites and as well as anything about Handforth as it currently is that you would like to see improved.

- Comment on the latest consultation on the Local Plan - the deadline is 5pm Monday 20th March

- Sign the petition Manuel mentions above asking the government to debate community involvement in green belt building decisions

- Get writing to politicians. I've not received a response to the email I sent George Osborne on 20th January (before I even knew about any of the above), so I will follow that up and contact the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, and anyone else I think can help. Any suggestions?

- Anyone organising a petition, it's important to note that one petition containing multiple signatures will only be counted as one objection by Cheshire East Council. To make an impact everyone who wants to sign should send their own individual submission to CEC. Maybe a template could be set up?

Thank you for reading.