Controversial plans for two new retail parks to be considered alongside one another

Plans for two new retail parks on adjacent sites in Handforth are now scheduled to be determined alongside one another at next month's Strategic Planning Committee meeting.

Orbit Developments' application to demolish the existing warehouses at the junction of Earl Road and Epsom Avenue and replace them with a parade of six units and a standalone single storey unit was recommended for refusal by the planning officer because the loss of employment land is considered to significantly outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

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 a new access from Earl Road. The adjacent offices are to be retained. If approved Orbit says the development would create 290 additional jobs.

However, at a meeting on Wednesday, 22nd March, committee members decided to defer the decision until their next meeting so that this application (planning reference 16/5678M) could be looked at with a similar application on the opposite side of Earl Road.

The second application is from Alderley Edge-based retail property developer Consolidated Property Group who has entered into an agreement with Cheshire East Council to purchase the 15-acre site next to the Handforth Dean retail park for a retail-led mixed-use scheme.

The application, which was submitted in January 2016 and expected to be determined by April 2016, is for Phase Two and Three of the 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.

The second phase of the scheme consists of a number of stand-alone units, including restaurants, fast food and coffee drive throughs. The scheme includes two 4,000 sq ft restaurants with 45 parking spaces, a two storey drive through with 44 parking spaces and two single storey drive throughs with 42 parking spaces.

The retail element of the scheme forms the third phase of CPG's masterplan for the site and consists of 340,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, along with a 66 bed hotel. The two and three storey retail units vary in size from 5,000 sq ft to 35,000 sq ft. They are arranged in an L shape around 424 parking spaces.

In total the scheme includes 557 car parking spaces, 39 of which will be disability spaces, 60 cycle spaces and 6 electric charging points. If approved CPG says the development could create up to 1,200 jobs.

Both applications are currently scheduled to be determined at the Strategic Planning Meeting on Wednesday 19th April.

The planning applications can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 16/5678M (Orbit) and 16/0138M (CPG).

Consolidated Property Group, Handforth, Handforth Dean, Handforth Dean Shopping Park, Orbit Developments, Planning Applications


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

Simon Worthington
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 4:07 pm
Why do drive thrus have as many spaces as a restaurant? Create jobs - unlikely - just move some jobs from the high street councils seem desperate to kill off.
Chris Wigley
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 4:47 pm
As Simon has highlighted the job 'created' are likely to be a game of musical chairs with jobs being lost on the high street. Given the poor pay in retail I wonder where those working in the new development will live, probably not in this area of north east Cheshire East where there is little in the way of affordable housing. The area of this development and that where Next was built would have been better used to provide housing and help to prevent the use of the green belt that is threatened by Handforth East. We have already seen that the development at the former British Legion of ten mews homes is far beyond the reach of first time buyers or those needing affordable housing.
Jon Armstrong
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 5:27 pm
Simon - I've never seen a drive thru where you couldn't also eat and drink inside, so I suspect that is also the case here.

Chris - A narrow strip of land between the A34, other superstores and warehousing wouldn't be a very attractive place to live, even for a first time buyer. It's a far more appropriate location for a retail park.

The town centre shopping model is outdated. Consumers want parking and large shops with a lot of choice. These superstores are better placed that the high street to compete with internet sellers. Even if there is no net gain of jobs, I don't see this as a bad thing. We need to stop being so hung up on comparing the high street to the 70s or 80s - a thing to which it will never return. We need to accept the idea that the high street and the space needed by shops and businesses in town centres in general will contract, and that this space can return to residential, which in many cases it was long before the shops and offices arrived. We've already seen some of this happen in Wilmslow.
Angie Thorpe
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 6:54 pm
I agree with Jon A whole heartedly .. times have changed .. I look forward to these proposals being passed ... maybe these small shops such as in Wilmslow could be changed to residential with a bit of thought and planning..
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 7:40 pm
CPG purchased their site from CEC. I can imagine that CEC will do rather well out of granting pp. Saying no isn't in their interest.
It's more jobs shifting retail imports, growing consumer debt and generally failing to reduce our balance of payments and national debt.
The recipe for disaster continues apace.
No innovation, no exports. A self serving spiral of failure.
Every town should have a science/technology park. One shopping mall to every 10 innovation centres. Go see Silicon Valley. I worked there.
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 7:41 pm
Well, there is one guarantee, will CE pass its own site for development, but, if they do, will they not upset Jones???? A lovely enigma. for our planning committee. Or thirdly, the most unlikely, pass none of them, which will help all the smaller retailers a chance to live? All the talk in the plans of providing employment is rubbish, as they take on people from existing premises. Surely there are more than enough eating places in the area, and already 3 fitness establishments within 1 mile of this area.
Chris Wigley
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 8:29 pm
@Jon Armstrong - you mustn't have looked at the site that Jones Homes developed at Eden Park, Cheadle Hulme in making your comment about the size of the site, and in that case it certainly wasn't for first time buyers.
Jon Armstrong
Wednesday 29th March 2017 at 9:23 pm
I said it wouldn't be an attractive place to live. That doesn't require any study of other Jones developments. Would you like to live there?
Simon Worthington
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 7:47 am
If the small shopping area/high street is so outdated why do the "garden village" and the Woodford site contain plans for exactly that. I agree that free parking, cover from the elements and huge choice are very popular but not for everyday shopping for food, dry cleaning, hairdressing, stationery etc. Not spotted a greengrocer or butchers at the "Traffic Centre". Or a chraridee shop. No discounts there! The high street has been bled dry by greedy landlords and business rates. Allowing large office developments with inadequate parking leads to all the parking for shoppers being charged for or full of commuters cars. When the only businesses that can afford to be on the high street are high profit chains flogging glasses, coffee, beauty, houses etc of course they die. The economic model is outdated and the way forward is to switch retail rates to VAT which would force Amazon etc. into paying their share and preventing profit shift to low tax countries.
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 10:09 am
Where did I say anything about "small shopping area", Simon? Small convenience stores are one of the things that continue to thrive in built up areas. And food and drink places, and small niche stores. But the days of buying clothes and televisions and DIY materials and homewares etc on the high street gone. Do you really think the shopping area in Wilmslow can remain the size it was at its high water mark with only convenience stores, hairdressers, cafes, dry cleaners, etc? Of course it can't. Which is why I am arguing we need to be realistic and allow the shopping area in the town to contract. We didn't always have as much as we have now - many of the streets with shops and businesses on used to be residential and could be again.

I don't understand this obsession with green grocers and butchers you and others have on here. When was the last time you saw a green grocer or a butchers on most high streets, never mind the Trafford Centre? The fact is most people don't want to shop in them. They haven't been killed off by greedy landlords or business rates - they've been killed off by a changing society. I'd bet a green grocer couldn't make a shop on Grove Street work in the long term even if the rent and business rates were zero.
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 11:34 am
Jon - agree that the High Street has to contract. However, how do you make the "greedy landlords" convert their premises to homes or alternative uses? It is the same problem as trying to make owners of empty office blocks, - of which there are many in Wilmslow, convert them to flats. Doesn't retail generally "have to contract" given the growth of internet shopping?
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 12:30 pm
These things happen slowly, but it's already happening, at least on the fringes of the town. If the planners we less resistant to sensible change of use we may see more of it.

For example, the office block next to the Jaguar dealer is currently being converted into flats. The council offices next to Wilmslow Health Centre are currently being replaced by old people's flats. Permission to build houses on the former dental surgery near Sainsburys was applied for and refused. The old Ned Yates site is having houses built on it.
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 1:51 pm
Jon - the problem is that there is not time for this to happen if meanwhile more chunks of the Green Belt have been removed for estates of 200+. Look at the examples: - Remenhem site, owned by Cheshire East. Next to the station - being crowd funded. Dental surgery and Ned Yates are both not the large house builders. Why would the large developers say they want to convert their empty offices in the town to flats, when they can sit on the empty offices and get more land in the Green Belt through the Local Plan? For example, one set of offices at Handforth Dean has never had an occupant since the day they were built. If there is not some way of ensuring that the large developers use up existing resources first then there will always be a situation where things are very slow to change.

Like Terry I know the Far East well. In Hong Kong, where land is in short supply, real estate is in a constant state of change because it has to be responsive.
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 2:38 pm
This very news story is about a large developer wanting to turn property that is unused and presumably not earning an income into something more appropriate, so it does happen. But instead of accepting it, every time this is raised on this site the comments are swamped by people complaining about it and often nitpicking at all kinds of trivial things. Is it any wonder developers would look for easier pickings?
Andrew Backhouse
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 7:48 pm
I am intrigued that people seem keen to see things that make people drive in - no wonder we have climate change and pollution. I know Donald Trump is not a keen supporter of things to reduce carbon emissions, but our Government seems to be, and allowing development to happen without bus or train - or tram connection, seems foolish. It also excludes the poor and many of the less mobile. Perhaps we just want the A34 with the new link road to be even more crowded?

As for new large retail units, we seem to be preferring smaller ones with personal service or using the internet more often. Where is future proof planning?
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 30th March 2017 at 10:16 pm
As I pointed out previously, it's likely more people will live with walking distance of this than if it was in the centre of Wilmslow.

I'm intrigued how you know there will be no bus service to something which hasn't even been approved to be built yet? There certainly is a bus stop by the petrol station at Handforth Dean, which is all of about 200m from where this would be.

As for the railway, I'm sure you know Handforth Dean is within easy walking distance of Handforth station. This would only be a few yards further. It would be nearer to a railway station than the vast majority of UK shops.
Manuel Golding
Friday 31st March 2017 at 12:53 pm
Cheshire East Council's over-paid, under achieving planning department should start by opening their blinkered eyes and minds.
These two large retail parks will be the death knell for a wide area's in town retailers.
Think Trafford Centre - it was extolled as the next best thing to sliced bread, would reinvigorate the localised retailing sector.
Tesult? Altrincham, a once very vibrant shopping town is now a retail waste-land. Stretford, Urmston, Davyhulme etc have all been destroyed.
We've seen it all before, we know what will happen. Therefore CEC should be demanding, yes demanding, that Orbit & CPG pay upfront millions of pounds to the local, neighbouring town centres to enable them all to do the necessary long overdue upgrades & redevelopment work needed to enable them to compete. - to create free car parking spaces, public transport services, covered shopping areas etc LONG BEFORE THESE developers commence their own soul destroying projects.
Richard Burgess
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 7:36 am
I've lived all my life in Handforth,I was born in church road 67 years ago,
We had the people say when Handforth dean opened it would be the death
Of Handforth village it would be a ghost town with tumble weed blowing through,
The only two shops we have lost are the butcher and the green grocery
Which you can get in the spar,I have my lunch in the village most days
and nearly ever parking space is full of cars on the front none of which are long term parking,and the road is always busy all day long,
So I cannot see why the new shops cannot get the go ahead because there
Are no houses that over looks them it's just industry that is round it so I don't see what the problem is.
Bob Bracegirdle
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 8:36 am
Hmm. I need another map. How far from Handforth Dean is Handforth railway station? And how often is the bus that's 200m from there? Public transit to any such retail area has to be every 15min or better in frequency and run into the evening to work.
Andrew Backhouse
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 8:48 am
It would appear that Jon has not been reading on the bus service - planned to be down to 1 an hour through Handforth, with a long walk for anyone elderly or disabled across to the new suggested sites, and the train station without disabled access, or the couple of times a day there is a little bus to Handforth Dean that there is no timetable up for - well, I'd be glad to know when it goes and where to!

So whilst Handforth Dean is not far away for me as a fit person, it is a much harder walk for others. And what about traffic congestion and cutting carbon emissions? Are the developers going to sponsor better station access and more buses near them?
Simon Worthington
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 8:55 am
Last time I went to Bramhall there were 3 greengrocers and two busy butchers. The grotesque rent and rip off rates are entirely to blame for the demise and homogenization of our town centre. Of course either trade would prosper with no rent and rates but cash flow study (on which many new local retail enterprises obviously fail) will demonstrate that £30,000 plus before you open the door will prevent profitability. The fish shop on Chapel Lane is a prime example. The owner told me that opening in Wilmslow centre was not viable and as his Knutsford shop became unviable as rent and rates rose he closed it. Lower rent and rates lead to a healthy variety of independent shops. I presume the DIY Viking does okay!!
Nice to see that Grove Street will become poundshop land. Saves me going to Wythenshawe for stuff I can't buy locally.
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 2:09 pm
Jon - yes we do have a developer trying to change use. There would be nothing wrong with this, except that submissions re the Local Plan Matter 2. "Economic Growth and Employment Land Requirements," where it is argued that they expect "financial, business and professional sector" to do well and that this growth will likely be in the North of the Borough and that there "may be a requirement for specific office park location". It is a bit rich, within a short space of time, to try and change use from offices to an alternative, whilst at the same time sitting on empty offices in town centres.
Jon Armstrong
Saturday 1st April 2017 at 2:41 pm
The front door of Marks and Spencer is 822m walking distance from Handforth Railway station. By point of comparison, this is only slightly more than the the 725m from Wilmslow station to Sainsburys (which would probably actually be further if not for cutting the corner through the Leisure Centre car park). The entrance to the Arndale Centre is 913m from Manchester Picadilly Station. Should these shops not been allowed to exist for being too far from a railway station?

As for disabled access to Handforth Station, Network Rail and the train companies clearly don't care about this and have had plenty of opportunities to do something about it over the years without doing anything. This is hardly the fault of the retailers or developers.