Reader's Letter: The Local Plan decision

barryburkhill

Dear Editor,

As an elected Cheshire East Borough Councillor representing a ward in our northern area of Cheshire East, perhaps your readers would like to read what I said to the Council at last Thursday's Council meeting on the Local Plan. This Plan will change our lives and our environment and will unnecessarily destroy much of our greenbelt on which we all depend. I will leave your readers to draw their own conclusions about what I said.

We are in the final stage of this Conservative Local Plan. I say this because no other group has been involved or allowed to be involved in its drafting and in all its various stages. I don't know of course but I believe that most of the members opposite in the Conservative Group have not been involved either. It seems that planning officers have been told to get on with it after we have been left without since 2011. It also seems that certain sites have been chosen for development and then evidence made to fit.

CEC has identified Handforth as being the most appropriate location for one large strategic allocation to meet the needs of the northern part of the Borough. This is the North Cheshire Growth Village. There could be other development strategies based on alternative spatial distributions and allocations but as CEC owns most of this land and there is a need to provide funds elsewhere, this strategy and this site have been chosen. No matter that it is in strategic greenbelt and has received continuous large and wide opposition at every stage of the Plan, this site has been dogmatically and relentlessly pursued by the ruling group and by Council planning officers who have closed their ears to all opposition and arguments against it.

A Stockport Officer said that there would be no need to have green lights on the traffic signals along the A34 as nothing would be moving at peak times. Another site which has generated huge opposition is CS49, which generated nearly 350 individual letters of opposition from residents in the last consultation. I asked Mr. Fisher what he was going to do to address these real concerns. He stated that nothing would be done as they only needed to alter the plan if they thought it was unsound. This is CEC's interpretation of consultation—consult and then ignore! Handforth residents have gone beyond anger and are genuinely astonished that a democratic Council could possibly behave like a monstrous dictator. We have warned of the consequences of developing 60% of the North Cheshire Greenbelt, which will be to face a further attempt to take over the Northern Towns of our Borough by Greater Manchester. Weakening our defences against this is not the most sensible of policies.

I am also very concerned that the housing requirement numbers for the Borough do not stack up. The Borough's population growth is predicted to be less than 30,000 by 2030. Given the average household numbers from the Local Plan as 2.37 persons per dwelling, this equates to a housing need of approximately 12,500 houses for the whole Borough, not the 36,000 houses in this Plan, which would equate to a population growth during the Plan period of 85,000 people!! Three times the actual number of houses which we will need over the whole Plan Period. Where are these people coming from? Are we building houses for our neighbouring authorities? These figures show gross incompetence on the part of this Council if they are anything like accurate from the ONS and would mean land banking on an enormous scale by the developers.

Not surprisingly Mr. Mayor I will be voting against this Local Plan.

Regards

Cllr. Barry Burkhill
Independent Ratepayer Councillor
Handforth Ward CEC

Tags:
Barry Burkhill, Cheshire East Council, Local Plan
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Comments

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

Nick Jones
Sunday 30th July 2017 at 9:35 am
Commendable Barry. You have demonstrated mettle where other Cllrs have convincingly failed to demonstrate representation of their electorate. Meanwhile in a common sense and non party matter we are now stuck with these invertebrates until the next election.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 30th July 2017 at 10:20 am
What a very sad state of affairs when the CEC Tory Councillors have repeatedly gone against their electorate's expressed wishes, toed the Party line and danced to the tune of their major financial supporter- a developer!
Manuel Golding
Sunday 30th July 2017 at 11:46 am
Councillor Burkhill's comments reflects RoWs experience when he states that the chief planning 'oppo', Adrian Fisher, when asked how he would address the 350 against comments to a particular Handforth site stated he & his team will be doing nothing. This has been the CEC's stock answer over the past 5 or so years to every concern RoW has raised about its plans for Wilmslow's & Handforth's Green Belts.

Some of this town's councillors, you know who I refer to, have glibly attacked RoW as "not wanting any development". This is rubbish, as they well know. We have been fighting to have Brownfields developed as a first port of call in both Wilmslow & Handforth but everyone at CE, including Wilmslow CE councillors have trotted out the planners 'misleading' information, "there aren't any" they say.
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I'm sure Cllr Burkhill & others could add even more damning background to the Council's leadership's avaricious desire to cash-in on the so called Garden Village - money, big money, so clearly corrupts those who have heard the tills ringing. The attack on the Garden Village had set the tone for the rape of the other neighbour Green Belt sites.

Unfortunately for us, too many Conservatives were afraid to stand up and be counted before and on the day, even though, as quite a number said to me both before & after the decisive vote, they knew the plan was highly flawed but that their leadership had for too long ignored the faulty numbers & strategy, leaving them with no alternative but to vote for the destruction of the northern Green Belts. This is just not good enough, the electors in Wilmslow deserve so much better from their so misnamed & misplaced "representatives".

ThCllr Burkhill's address to the Council on Thursday, a number of other councillors, my and other concerned residents comments, in the main requesting a rethink by councillors fell on closed ears.

The building fraternity must be laughing all the way to their banks but it is the locals who will be paying the cost for years. The pain will be so very evident before the next round of CE elections - our Conservative "representatives" have blindly let us all down for the sake of the Party but their cost will be when they are shown the door in 2019 by the electorate.

Wilmslow needs what Handforth already has, a full house of independents. Residents of Wilmslow representatives will truly be representinmg the voters concerns
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 5:18 pm
Whey hey! A man who speaks sense. Good luck to you sir. These blue sky thinking planners must be stopped., and who the "heck" do Stockport thing they are to come pontificating about what goes on our our patch. Tear up your plans ignore central goverment. Leave us alone, we are happy as we we are. Am i a NIMBY. Yes Iam, and proud of it. I dont fight for me, I find for my grandchildren to still see green fields.
Maria Quin
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 5:45 pm
Totally agree with all of the above and just wish the actions of these greedy planners was a criminal offence. They should be locked up for wrecking our environment and expecting us to pay the price!
Christopher Baker
Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at 6:22 pm
Quote: "..... nothing would be done as they only needed to alter the plan if they thought it was unsound".

It would appear that they act as judge and jury ('they have, or claim, authority to decide upon a matter without reference to others').
Martin Kitchin
Thursday 3rd August 2017 at 1:43 am
More power Barry to yours and Toni Fox's elbows, to democracy and to common sense.

Every day I go back to look at the developers plans for the green belt at Little Stanneylands and I cannot beleive my eyes.

If it resembles what's being jammed on to the 'Bollin Park' develipment on Adlington Road, then that is so very sad.