Plans for new retail park recommended for refusal


Plans for a new retail development adjacent to the existing Handforth Dean retail park are due to be determined next week.

Members of the Strategic Planning Committee will decide whether Orbit Developments can go ahead with their proposal to demolish the existing warehouses at the junction of Earl Road and Epsom Avenue in Handforth and replace them with a parade of six units and a standalone single storey unit. The adjacent offices are to be retained.

The scheme includes five unit for non-food retail purposes and two units are to be used for non-food retail or sandwich shop. The plans also includes the creation of a car park with 183 spaces and new access from Earl Road, together with landscaping and associated works.

Orbit's site currently contains two large warehouses and a smaller office building, built in the 1970s, and scrubland. It is bounded to the west by the John Lewis distribution centre and to the east is the vacant site which Consolidated Property Group have submitted plans for Phase Two and Three of a retail and leisure development comprising of retail units, cafes and restaurants, a gym and a hotel. Phase One of this development is now complete with the Next store having opened last year.

Much of the proposed site already has planning consent for an office development but Orbit says this has not come to fruition due to a lack of demand.

However, the Planning Officer is recommending this scheme for refusal because the loss of employment land is considered to significantly outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

A report prepared for the meeting on Wednesday, 22nd March, states:

"The justification for policy E2 of the local plan explains that retailing is not permitted (on existing employment sites) because it would reduce the amount of employment land available and provision is made elsewhere for retailing. It is acknowledged that the proposal would generate a significant number of jobs; however it is not considered that the merits of the proposal should be judged by the numbers of jobs it creates."

It continues "The proposal will result in the loss of employment land at a time when the Council is actively allocating additional employment land as part of its emerging local plan. The need for sites is such that even Green Belt locations are currently being identified for future employment purposes in the north of the Borough. The loss of the application site would exacerbate this situation and place further pressure to locate sites within the Green Belt."

This latest application is a resubmission of planning application 15/0400M which was refused by Cheshire East Council's Strategic Planning Board in February 2016 on the grounds that the loss of employment land is considered to significantly outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

Orbit Developments have also appealed against the refusal of the previous scheme (reference 15/0400M) for five retail units and two restaurants, cafes or takeaways along with 240 car parking spaces - claiming that the scheme is an acceptable form of land use in a sustainable location which will deliver significant benefit to the local economy and local employment prospects.

The planning application can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 16/5678M.

Handforth, Orbit Developments, Planning Applications


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

Graham Shaw
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 4:20 pm
CEC are a joke - it should not be judged by the number of jobs it creates. What then should it be judged on, if your argument is that the land is earmarked for employment??

Also talk about double standards - trying to safeguard Green Belt from being used as employment land. What about the thousands of houses that they are allowing to be built on Green Belt??

And quite clearly Orbit have not been able to fill the units due to the lack of demand, so presumably the Planning Officer is happy for the buildings to sit there until they fall into disrepair and in the meantime we forego the jobs that would have been created both in the construction of the retail park and the shops and cafes themselves. Which, incidentally would have been local employment opportunities for all these new houses across the road in that wonderful village.

Really Cheshire East you ought to have a good look in the mirror!!
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 4:36 pm
Graham - don't believe that this is the final word. Basically they don't dare lose the "offices" at this point in time because the housing requirement is linked to the allocation of employment land in the Local Plan. Once that is over they will be back to giving developers whatever they want.
Lynne Prescott
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 4:40 pm
I am more concerned about access from Earl road - this road was designed for access to office space and is not fit for retail traffic - anyone trying to access the retail site for B&Q knows how congested it can get, with a traffic light system onto a narrow road. Any real site should debouch onto the existing retail sites, which have immediate access onto the A34
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 5:05 pm
Graham - much as I am loathe to support CE, the jobs argument is proven to be a developer red herring. Studies have shown that the promised new jobs for stores catering to the local community rarely increase overall employment. We still spend the same amount on shopping, so what the new shops gain, existing shops lose out on. Therefore, the incumbent retailers cut back on staff as their business gets a bit smaller and the number of overall jobs stays about the same. So CE are largely right to ignore the job creation argument for this proposal.
John Clegg
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 5:28 pm
Gosh, where's the like button when you need it?
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 9:54 pm
More retail space to suck in more imports? How is this going to help the nation export more, reduce our balance of payments deficit, reduce the national debt or invent blockbusters that will change the world?
I hope CE wake up and as Mark says, "we spend the same amount of money", so, no more retail please.
More R&D and Manufacturing wouldn't go amiss. The Automotive industry needs more suppliers for example, if post EC, we are to sustain our car plants. Plenty of other examples.
Remember "Export or Die" ?
Andrew Backhouse
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 10:06 pm
I warm to Terry's comment. Why do we need more retail where you have to use a car to get to it? That is surely against all the government's commitments to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as robbing our town centres which are already struggling. Perhaps we should be using some of this land for houses rather than take away more greenbelt! Some of the warehouse developments around it though are desperate for more car parking space or public transport and more retail units will not help that either. So I welcome the recommendation to refuse.
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 16th March 2017 at 8:33 am
Where was your car made, Terry?

I'd disagree with the point that you would have to use a car to get to it. Within 2k, which is easy walking distance for all but the old or infirm, you have of Handforth, all the new growth village, a chunk of Wilmslow, at least half of Heald Green and a large slice of the Cheadle Hulme / Bramhall area to the north and east. That's probably serving a greater population than the shops in the centre of Wilmslow.
Terry Roeves
Friday 17th March 2017 at 1:02 pm
Jon - Ford - unsure of final assembly or UK content. It's complicated!