A farming family in Handforth are furious after finding out "through the grapevine" that a developer is planning to build a path through the middle of their farm.
David Wilson Homes has submitted a planning application for a new residential development of 174 homes on land north of Stanneylands Road, behind Wilmslow Garden Centre and south of Bridge Farm in Handforth.
The 14.62 hectare site, which is currently used for grazing/paddocks, has been removed from the Green Belt and included in the Cheshire East Local Plan as a site suitable for building up to 200 homes.
David Wilson's scheme includes a new three-armed roundabout providing access to the site from Stanneylands Road, public open space, a new foot and cycle path connecting Linneys Bridge and Manchester Road along with a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Dean to the council owned land to the north of the site which is occupied by Bridge Farm - the only remaining farm in Handforth.
The Shenton family have rented the land off the Council for over 60 years and Chris Shenton, who lives there with his wife Debbie and youngest daughter Holly, has run the farm and the farm shop for over 40 years - helped by his son Mark and and his middle daughter Lisa who also lives in Handforth and helps out in the farm shop.
The family run business breeds sheep and cattle - including a prize winning herd of Blondes which has the Cheshire Farm's competition for the last two years and in 2012 the cattle won the National Blonde Herd competition.
Debbie Shenton told wilmslow.co.uk "The impact on the farm if the bridge/path goes across the land would be that the land would be unsuitable to graze with cattle and sheep, because we put newly calved cows with calves at foot, working stock bulls and tups ready for the breeding season on this land. All livestock can be unpredictable and be easily spooked or charged if chased."
Despite being council tenants for decades, neither Cheshire East Council or David Wilson Homes consulted them on these plans - instead they were left to hear about it from other people - subsequently they have contacted both the developer and Council for clarification of their plans but have not received a response from either party to their enquiries. They also contacted their land agent from Cheshire East Council who informed them that he knew nothing of the plans.
Debbie Shenton said "We have had no notice written or verbal about the bridge/path. A site plan which is in the planning application clearly shows a new bridge over the River Dean on to our side of the river.
"We feel that there is an alternative route that the path/bridge could take, that would not affect our grazing land. Our suggested route would cross the river at the bottom of Dobbinets Brook, from the Stannylands side to link into Handforth Woods and lead on to Sagers Road - thus leading into Handforth Village and extend to the back of the garden centre's existing path to lead on to Manchester Road."
According to the Design and Access Statement (which, in error, includes two photos of land at Bridge Farm instead of David Wilson's land) "The proposed development will provide a multi-user route through the site. This route will provide a connection between Linneys Bridge and Manchester Road, including a new bridge crossing across the River Dean, improving accessibility to Handforth town centre and the railway station."
wilmslow.co.uk approached both Cheshire East Council and David Wilson Homes who confirmed that the bridge and route of the path are now being discussed and yes it does look likely that the path will cross through Bridge Farm.
A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said "Yes, CEC has agreed that Wilson Homes can build a path over the river. The details of the bridge and the route of the path are currently being discussed."
He added "It does seem that they weren't told which is regrettable.
"There's no statutory obligation to say they should have been but even so, naturally it should not have been the beyond the wit of man to keep them informed."
A spokesperson for David Wilson Homes said, "Providing a cycle/footpath from the Stanneylands development across the River Dean to Manchester Road is a requirement of the Local Plan policy that allocates this Stanneylands Road site for residential development, and is therefore a planning requirement for this scheme. The precise route will be for Cheshire East Council to determine."
Debbie Shenton said "We are mad that we have not been informed about the bridge/path. We have not had a fair chance or opportunity to have our say or put our points of view across.
"We heard about the plans through Handforth Planning Committee and village gossip, I can not stress enough that we have not had written notice at all."
David Wilson's plans for 174 homes at Stanneylands can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 17/4521M.
The deadline for commenting on this planning application has been extended to Wednesday, 11th October, after local resident Julian Barlow discovered a discrepancy in the cut off date for submitting comments regarding this development.
On the Cheshire East Council website the cut off date for all comments was stated as being 5/10/17. However, on the notifications posted locally on lamp posts, the final date was stated as being 11th October so the deadline was subsequently changed.
Photos: The Shelton Clan, four generations aged from one to nighty three years young. The blonde cattle.