Wilmslow and Handforth set for over 3000 new homes as Inspector backs Local Plan

LPS  Front Cover - Proposed Changes, Final Version - large size

A planning inspector has backed Cheshire East's Local Plan for shaping future development in the borough which allocates 900 new homes in Wilmslow and 2200 new homes in Handforth by 2030.

It follows three years of public comments and submissions on the council's proposed strategic blueprint for the borough's development to 2030.

The report by Planning Inspector Stephen Pratt gives the Local Plan 'a clean bill of health' and means the council can now move ahead with the document's formal adoption within weeks. The receipt of the inspector's report brings the Local Plan examination to a formal close.

Importantly, his report says the Local Plan, once adopted, will secure 'at least' a five-year supply of housing land to meet projected need which the Council says will provide a vital protection against inappropriate or unsustainable housing proposals from developers.

The proposal for 900 new homes in Wilmslow by 2030, includes: 175 at Royal London (around 80 on land to the east of the existing campus, around 20 to the north of the existing campus and around 75 on land west of Alderley Road), 200 at Little Stanneylands and 150 at Heathfield Farm with 97 listed as being completed and 305 having already been committed by March 2016.

In Handforth the expected level of development is 2200 new homes including 250 on land between Clay Lane and Sagars Road and 1500 at the North Cheshire Garden Village, located off the A34 opposite Handforth Dean Retail Park, with 70 listed as being completed and 323 having already been committed by March 2016.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council said: "This is good news for Cheshire East and a major step forward for residents and businesses alike."

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East cabinet member for housing and planning, said: "The Local Plan is the council's most important tool for shaping development in Cheshire East to 2030 – so this is great news.

"The council is grateful for the inspector's report, which now enables us, after a lot of hard work by our planning team, to press ahead and adopt the Local Plan in a few weeks' time.

"The inspector acknowledged that our Local Plan was one of the most complex and consulted upon he had seen in his more than 20 years' experience. His report shows that any shortcomings identified in the process have now been rectified and, with the published modifications, the Local Plan now has a clean bill of health.

"There has been a tremendous response from our residents and other stakeholders during the extensive 13 rounds of public consultations on our proposals and I'm sure it has allowed everyone to feel they had the opportunity to have their say.

"Our Local Plan has been shown to be both comprehensive and robust and will give the people of Cheshire East its best protection against unplanned and unsustainable development."

The focus of public consultation earlier this year was on the changes the council proposed to the plan it originally submitted to the Secretary of State in May 2014, in light of interim views by the planning inspector during examination.

This included additional and amended strategic site allocations to accommodate the larger scale of growth now expected and planned for in the borough.

The council received a total of more than 60,000 comments during the various consultations to arrive at the finalised Local Plan.

Planning Inspector Mr Pratt said in his report: "I conclude that Cheshire East Council has adopted a balanced and rational approach to economic and jobs growth, which is both ambitious and aspirational, yet realistic and with a reasonable prospect of success."

Cheshire East's Local Plan includes provision for a housing requirement of at least 36,000 new homes and 380 hectares of development land, to reflect a stronger anticipated jobs growth rate of 0.7 per cent per annum.

The inspector also endorsed all of the 60-plus strategic sites within the Local Plan, including large-scale proposals, such as the North Cheshire Garden Village at Handforth.

The report supports the council's strategy of making amendments to green belt land.

Whilst the first part of the Cheshire East Local Plan focuses on Key Service Centres, including Wilmslow and Handforth, the second stage - the Site Allocations and Development Policies - looks at the Local Service Centres. There are 13 of these - Alderley Edge, Audlem, Bollington, Bunbury, Chelford, Disley, Goostrey, Haslington, Holmes Chapel, Mobberley, Prestbury, Shavington and Wrenbury.

The SADP will allocate additional sites for development, these will be smaller sites within town centres, the larger villages and rural areas and generally they will be sites of less than 150 homes or 5 hectares in size.

There remains 1125 homes and 3.56 hectares of employment land to be identified across the 13 Local Service Centres to meet the targets established in the Local Plan Strategy.

The Site Allocations and Development Policies' Issues Paper was subject to a six-week consultation earlier this year, which will be followed by a further consultation on the initial draft plan.

Local Plan


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

James MacDonald
Wednesday 21st June 2017 at 6:31 pm
More loss of green belt land for houses that are not required. No surprise that the concerns of locals are not addressed, they rarely are...
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 21st June 2017 at 7:27 pm
Can't be happy about land taken again for housing.
David Hoyle
Wednesday 21st June 2017 at 9:09 pm
Will there be extra school places,more doctors and dentists to accommodate all the extra people in the area.
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 7:30 am
As has been the case throughout, CEC has shown an inability to keep up with the building rate using it's own weekly figures. Stephen Pratt requested figures be brought up to date to 31st March 2017. A reasonable request but ridiculous he should have accepted 305 committed when a more realistic figure was 516. The committed figure for today has grown to 525. With 525 coming on the allocated sites and these already committed 525 since 2010 then the indicated total for Wilmslow by 2030 is going to exceed 1000 units when 900 is the number required by the Local Plan.

CEC will argue not all committed units will come to completion. True, but there are a further 84 units currently registered. Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) spends many hours keeping the housing figures up to date and analising trends. The current windfall rate since 2010 is above 30 units per year. Therefore, it is reasonable to apply a conservative 20 per year to 2030 adding a further 260 to the final figure. If my mathematics are correct then the indicated figure for houses completed by 2030 is 1310, some 410 above the calculated requirement.

In the great scheme of things these figures do not matter to either CEC or Mr Pratt. Nor, it seems Rachel Bailey, Leader of the Council, who regards what is being proposed as "A major step forward for residents and businesses alike." (similar sounds come from my vicar who tells us we must take the pain of life so as to reap the joy of eternity!).What is important in this exercise is to grab as much land as possible from the Green Belt whilst you can. You play down the brown site contribution to help achieve this. A massive response from the public during this process called for the Green Belt to be protected, but this is not a valid contribution to a Local Plan exercise.

Moving forward it is vital people of Wilmslow who care about the Green Belt continue to keep accurate housing figures, continue to complain about empty offices, continue to expose the reality of windfall on brownfield sites and anything else coming our way as the reality of this Local Plan unfolds. Accurate figures speak for themselves: The amount of land being taken from the Green Belt is well above the amount required of the Plan. This is a council that consistently tells us it cares about the Green Belt in a nation that puts great emphasis upon a need to protect the Green Belt. Somebody, somewhere amongst our leaders and representatives might just care enough to do something about it.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 8:33 am
Even at this stage, the 900 stated in the LP is wrong. Figures above add up to 922.
With windfalls ignored and houses committed too low i.e. CEC planning approved, then Mr Bagguley and Residents of Wilmslow offer us an estimate far closer to the truth of the matter.
Well, does it matter? We were told 400, then it became 900. A strategic housing market assessment dated September 2013 identified the numbers for Wilmslow and Handforth thro' I believe to 2019. The run rate for new builds for us, was nowhere near this rate.
Have CEC ignore 14,000 houses proposed by GMC for land along the airport link road/A6?
Has our economic growth in Wilmslow increased so remarkably from 2013 to 2017 to justify 500 more houses? (Good news for post Brexit CE!)
We are a key service centre, but for whom? CEC or is it GMC?
And is there anything that can be done? Ask Ester McVey M.P.
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 8:50 am
Absolutely clear that the Green Belt in the North of the Borough has been up for grabs since the start of this process; - but the Green Gap in the South is to be protected. For those who live in the villages close to Wilmslow - be afraid for the making of the next Local Plan because this one has not got far to run. Why do I say this? Because Cheshire East has buying land in the North to replenish their stocks.
Michael Maddox
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 4:18 pm
Its hard to imagine the adverse effect 2200 extra Homes will have on Handforth and the surrounding area. The traffic, even before the A555 relief road is completed, is horendous to say the least.
When the Relief Road is completed, it's going to open up massive amounts of land for Housing Building and Retail/Business development.

As has been said many times by many people, the Road infrastructure, even when the Relief Road has been completed will be unable to handle the huge increase in Traffic. Wilmslow, and in particular Handforth will be a Building site for 20 years or more!

Having lived in Handforth for over 50 years, I have experienced the negatives, development has created over the years. Particularly, in the areas of Health (Doctors, Dentists), and the Schools, particularly when it involves Primary places.
In relation to the Doctors Surgery, which was built in the early sixties, it has been unable to cope with the increase demand.
There always seems to be land available to build Houses! But it seems, not Health or Schooling, when it has been required for the last 10 years or more. I would only hope that someone somewhere in the Planning Committee has some brains and foresight to recommend a NEW Surgery is built in Handforth.
Maybe an idea would be to knock down the Paddock and build a NEW Health Centre with say parking on the roof, and additional necessary Services that Handforth residents need?
No, in actual fact it would be better if ALL the shops in Handforth were levelled, and the area rebuilt as a Shopping Centre with the necessary Services. Maybe even build over the road through Handforth to aid development.
Chris Neill
Friday 23rd June 2017 at 9:35 pm
Is there anything or anybody out there to protect us from this destructive,unstoppable greed, madness and self anahilation.
If you look through history, so many precious, pleasant , landscapes are discovered and sought after, then destroyed. In spite of all this , the alarmingly weak people who have authority to stem this destruction, continue to do it without vision or morality, just greed.
Is there please , somebody or some authority with the vision to save us from ourselves, this madness, and protect our very fragile quality of life, which we are losing each day, now , this week , in June 2017.
Sandra Cox
Saturday 24th June 2017 at 7:26 am
Chris Neill - Our new MP Esther McVey has an open surgery in Sainsburys this morning. Could she help us?
Brian McGavin
Sunday 25th June 2017 at 1:09 pm
Cheshire East’s Local Plan ignores residents’ concerns, Trashes greenbelt and promotes gridlock

After 13 consultations, the three year war of attrition on residents by Cheshire East to build on substantial areas of greenbelt land around Wilmslow, Handforth and Alderley, amounts to a total sell-out of residents’ views.

Now the Government’s planning inspector has backed the council’s plans which will include 2,200 houses on open land in Handforth next to the A34 - destroying the last open view to the Pennine hills, 175 houses and commercial build around the Royal London offices overlooking Alderley Edge and 200 on a greenbelt wildlife corridor next to Stanneylands.

The council has ignored the constructive concerns of residents about preserving the semi-rural character of the town and building on greenbelt, when many brownfield sites are available.

A growing ring of proposed development is now set to destroy what’s left of the character of the area, add hugely to traffic gridlock and pressure on schools and health services. No account has been taken of this. The new Manchester airport road construction will not resolve traffic flow, only facilitate movements to the airport.

Alongside, an obsession with building more and more speculative business estates around the greater Wilmslow area, when there is already substantial provision and unlet units, will make things worse.

Resident’s groups pointed out that evidence for economic growth targets and consequent substantial increase in housing provision are arbitrary. The Waters office development on the Wilmslow - airport road, Manchester Airport’s bulldozing of a further 96 acres of greenbelt at the M56 junction for more business units and Stockport’s development of over 900 houses on the nearby Woodford airport site will add to population density and traffic. The number of new homes proposed for Wilmslow has increased from 400 to 900.

A report in 2011 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that many of these business parks actually displace existing jobs. It also found evidence that local authorities are being pressured to base their plans on development aspirations rather than need, resulting in ever higher housing targets and the unnecessary release of countryside for development. The proposed household development requirement’ was 30 per cent above the Government’s household projections and 50 per cent above the average build rate. Cheshire East revealed in 2016 that only 26 per cent of the homes they have granted planning permission in the past three years have been built, in land-banking by developers.

Council bosses parrot the usual ‘sustainable growth’ mantras. They haven’t a clue what this really means. They talk of extending greenbelt in other parts of the county, which is of little interest to people in Wilmslow and Handforth. Build more roundabouts and fill them with traffic lights will ease traffic gridlock they claim. But congestion worsened when multiple lights were planted on the A34.

Manchester airport’s growth predictions also fly in the face of predicted oil energy decline in the next decade as global demand outstrips supply. A blind economic growth at all costs policy rampaging across what’s left of prime agricultural land we need for future food security, will be cemented over. Dazzled by development money, Cheshire East is nowhere near understanding this and neglects its obligation to strive for genuine sustainability.
Pete Taylor
Monday 26th June 2017 at 8:18 pm
Well said, Brian. I doubt if you will elicit a comment from Cllrs. Barton, Stockton or Menlove; our CEC "representatives".
I can only imagine what their motives are.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 10:41 am
WTC election; "I have worked closely with the town council over the years to counter threats to the local Green Belt – something I will continue to do." "I am on record as supporting building on brownfield sites before green areas and on allowing offices to be converted to housing. I have publicly opposed any housing on the Royal London site…” Lyme Green [building on brownfield site without permission]; “This, I am sure everyone will agree, has been a wholly regrettable incident and one that has caused the reputation of the council to be called into question…… I cannot though, in all conscience, ignore the fact this situation arose on my watch ..”
Ironic ? Tragedy ? Certainly condescension tinged with petulance ... So, whilst our Lyme Green Cllr quoted above now appears in ebullient mood, let’s not forget his track record with Planning, and his vote (with others) on more than one occasion to remove green belt protection from WIlmslow. http://bit.ly/1vL7OYa … Perhaps he can now explain how much the Lyme Green debacle has cost taxpayers ? and volunteer a full and frank disclosure which he is not inhibited from doing? and explain how far the ‘Masterplan’ discussions with R/L and possible developers has gone, before this ‘charade’ of consultation commences. Profit is not one of the 'exceptional circumstance ' criteria for land to be removed from ‘Green belt’ [ NPPF. http://bit.ly/2srQKsr ]
With Non-compliance to Govt planning policy ignoring the above, Ignoring Brownfield development, Adlington “Never build on these fields” Road, It clearly evidences why CEC chose moral disengagement from the Local Plan, having the right people in place to do so.
Lynne Prescott
Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 6:24 pm
... and not only the additional housing, but a much expanded retail development on Handforth Dean (Earl Road is already gridlocked without factoring in out-of area traffic to this new shopping area). A34 is totally congested even now and will only get so much worse. In addition, we have housing going onto the area behind Seashell trust as Cheadle builds up to the border with Handforth, and I don't see any discussion of how to make these extra houses/retail areas more sustainable for increased traffic i.e. public transportation options. One bold move would be to build a new station on the line between Handforth and Cheadle, accessible from A34 with park and ride facilities to enable people to commute easily into Manchester without having to use the A34/Kingway - this might mean slightly were houses built in that area, but would be a far more sustainable option. Especially as our last option for parking space around Handforth station has just been built on by Jones Homes