Play area stuck in the mud, whilst Council sits on £1m of section 106 money

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Having donated more than £1 million in S106 monies a local developer is chasing Cheshire East Council to find out why no progress has been made on the planned improvements for a local play area.

In connection with planning consent being granted in October 2014 for 204 dwellings off Adlington Road, Jones Homes made a payment of £499,719 to Cheshire East Council in April 2015. This payment was for secondary school education, improvements to the public open space at Browns Lane play area and a sum for improvements in Wilmslow, Handforth and Alderley Edge to off-set the loss of biodiversity.

Then in July 2017, Jones Homes paid a further £515,071 to the Council for education and public open space improvements at Browns Lane play area - bringing the total contribution to £1,014,790.

Mr G Hardy, Managing Director of Jones Homes Northern Region, said "The development is three quarters complete but there is no sign of any progress in respect of the improvements to the nearby Browns Lane play area despite the funds being deposited with the Council promptly under the term of the Section 106 Agreement.

"Our residents are keen to see the play area improved and I am aware the local councillors have been in contact with your Open Space Officers to push forward the scheme."

Under the terms of the Section 106, the Council has 15 years to spend the money before it needs to be returned.

Mr G Hardy added "We have regularly asked ANSA for progress updates and have seen little progress. Payments were also made in connection with the Turin Drive developments to improve the same play area before our payments and those residents have seen no benefit either.

"Any update on the use of the education sum would also be appreciated to inform residents."

At the time of publication we are awaiting a response from Cheshire East Council regarding the situation with planned improvements at Browns Lane play area and the S106 monies which were allocated for the project and education provision.

Updated: Thursday, 1st February, 12.15pm.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "The development by Jones Homes, off Adlington Road in Dean Row, known as 'Bollin Park', provides for the improvement of the nearby open space at Brown's Lane. This improvement is secured via the planning obligation (section 106 agreement) attached to the original planning permission.

"The council is currently preparing a programme of work to improve the area – and this includes assessing existing drainage problems in the location. This process is under way and will ensure the funding is used in the most effective way for public benefit."

Tags:
Browns Lane, Cheshire East Council, Jones Homes, S106 Money
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Comments

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

Neil Stelling
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 4:33 pm
"... the local councillors have been in contact with your Open Space Officers to push forward the scheme..."

It does seem long overdue that elected Councillors take proper control of Cheshire East Council full-time employees ? Can the Councillors be held personally responsible for the many issues at Cheshire East that all residents are well aware of ?
John Fallows
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 5:13 pm
It's not just a case of the play area. The improvement of this area was also meant to facilitate pedestrian (and cycle?) access to Summerfields Village as well as being a general recreation area for walkers etc. If I recall correctly the plans included pathways & lighting.

Currently the place is a quagmire.

Can we add into this section 106 farce the widening of the slip road from Dean Row to the A34 bypass. I understand this has been funded for some time. Fortunately I don't have to drive round the area much in rush hour. I sympathise with anyone who does. We all know that the road infrastructure has been ignored in terms of all the new developments. The least CEC can do is to implement already funded mitigations.
DELETED ACCOUNT
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 5:33 pm
John - part of the reason why the place is a "quagmire" is that too many houses have been allowed to be built on land nearby by the developer who is now complaining. This is the same developer who has just put in to increase the number of houses on the Adlington Road site by 3.
John Fallows
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 6:02 pm
I take your point, Jackie. like you I tried my best to prevent these houses being built (having initially taken Councillor Jones at his word). But having lived on Summerfields for over 30 years I can say this area has always suffered from waterlogging. The entrance (where the above picture is taken from) frequently has a massive pool of water at its lowest point ... just where you enter the area.

However we are where we are - it's supposed to be sorted ... but it isn't. According to the salesman at the Adlington Road development, Jones had planned to undertake these works themselves but CEC took the job away from them and asked for the 106 money instead.
Marc Staples
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 6:25 pm
Again this is not a priority for CEC council ! I also live on the Summerfields and this has been a problem for years . My daughter cannot access this area currently because of the problem, As I have said before if one of CEC council members lived on the estate and had children then it would have been rectified a long time ago. If it does not effect them then I believe they simply have not interest. Talking about interest how much have CEC earned from the £1 million plus pounds sat in there bank over the years and will they be adding this to the pot.
Maybe its being used to pay the suspended councillors !!!!!
Nik Eastwood
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 6:36 pm
In the summer I go for a walk round that field with doggy and at times of rain it does get muddy near the entrance which is also right next to the play area, I have not been in winter for a long while but even before the development it was quagmire and to be avoided.

The dip between the main field, where the gate is, up to the level of the kerbings and footpath on the road by the care home needs backfilling with hardcore to make it level, this hardcore base would probably extend up to near the play area to firm up the ground.

I think even a tractor would struggle to access that field in winter.

Cant see the situation changing.
Martin Kitchin
Wednesday 31st January 2018 at 9:04 pm
Nik,

We turned up with the grandsons, suitably togged up & came back for the same reasons. It is a no go area.

With so much of Summerfields leisure and recreation under threat from inappropriate development, residents need everything that's available.

In its current condition, the play area certainly isn't !
DELETED ACCOUNT
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 8:56 am
Whilst this area has always been bad it is worse these days. Also I thought the money was for more than the "play area" with the swings. What about the football pitch section in the middle - has anyone tried walking over that lately?
Estelle Lewis
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 10:39 am
My Labrador LOVES the area to the left of the opening to Brown's field as she enjoys a good swim! Walking through the gate in my short wellies is another matter!

I can't see the council doing anything such as infilling these paths - after all they are so busy filling in the HUGE pot-holes in Dean Row Rd (!!!) - a problem reported several times by numerous people apparently (go on the complaints site & see).

Sorry folks, you'll just have to wear waders - and snorkels if it gets any worse
Simon Worthington
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 11:27 am
So a cool mill or so for secondary education. Would go quite some way towards building the one thing our incompetant "rulers" don't seem to realise we are desperate for. A high school.
Manuel Golding
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 11:31 am
The REAL problem is that Cheshire East Council refuses to move on these improvements for the local communities. I know Councillor Toni Fox is constantly pressing/demanding/requesting the council to get the s106 monies spent to rectify/improve these local "amenities" without any further delays. Result: Nowt.
Why not? What is going on at this council?
Officers running their own private fiefdoms? Council leadership (cabinet) unable or unwilling to exert authoritative control over such "loose cannons"?
Not fit for purpose?
Perhaps it has wasted these monies, via successive accounting manipulations, to put to other uses? Maybe such as diverting such monies into its general budgeting - to fill the vast holes (pot holes is another issue!) due to paying officials to tend their gardens whilst employing/paying substitutes on the same salaries?
What has happened to RoWs request to Sec of State to put this council into "Special Measures" even though the DCLG replied to me that he was "providing professional advice & support"?
Once again, answers to such questions need answers, now.
Toni Fox
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 1:06 pm
All,

Since May 2015 as the newly elected Cheshire East Councillor for the Dean Row ward, S106 contributions has been one of the matters that I have actively been monitoring and trying to progress.

To summarise;

Commencement of the Browns Lane Recreation Area project has been waiting its turn on a list of other similar projects, a very long list, in a very large Borough.

This project has now reached the top of that list, however, for successful improvements to be implemented (which are envisaged to include a footpath/cycle path around the site) I hope you would all agree that the drainage issues of it necessarily need to be addressed to reach the best possible outcome.

As has been pointed out in many of the comments this is a very wet, often waterlogged site, that is presenting many issues.

Initially it was hoped that it would be possible to link a new drainage system to an existing nearby drainage ditch however this was not a viable option due to existing utility services obstructing the proposed connection route. Other alternatives considered including connecting into the system of an adjacent development or making a connection into the highway drainage system were also not possible.

Having exhausted these options the Council brought in a drainage consultant who I met, together with officers from the Council, including the Head of Flood Risk Management, on site last week.

As a result of the consultants investigations it appears there may be an old agricultural drainage system on site that could potentially be utilised to remove some of the water. It was agreed at the meeting that this should be investigated further however as this will necessitate taking a small digger on site this cannot be done until the site dries out enough to do so. I am monitoring the site and as soon as conditions are suitable this will be put into action.

Unfortunately, also according to advise from the consultant, if it is not possible to re-instate this old drainage system to divert some water off the site options for improvements to it are necessarily going to be constrained. This is likely to result in having to raise, by a suitable level, all public areas, play areas, and the circular pathway, whilst the remaining, lower, areas will remain as waterlogged as currently and potentially more so.

Whatever the outcome, it is intended to improve and raise the pedestrian entrance to the site adjacent to nursing home and I can also re-assure residents that the interest accrued on the S106 contributions received has been added to these sums of money.

In respect of the widening of the slip road onto the A34 opposite Summerfields, again, this is something I have been chasing for some time. In February 2017 I attended a meeting with officers from the Council and representatives from Jones Homes. At that time it was agreed that the works would be undertaken as a matter of urgency.

Because these works were not undertaken, or scheduled, I reported the matter to Planning Enforcement at the Council last September - a somewhat unusual measure given that it is potentially the Council who appears to be failing to meet the Condition the Council set that these works be completed prior to occupation when granting approval for the Bollin Park development.

The latest information available from different Highways officers is contradictory;

15th January Highways stated that the "initial street works application to deliver the widening works on the A34 link was missed due to the developers contractors work load. The contractor has yet to reapply for the Road Space Permit. This is being dealt with by the Street Works Team with a view to move this one along".

17th January Highways stated that "we cannot instruct the contractor to do the works until the SEMMMS work is complete".

An up to date response from Planning Enforcement has been requested.

Unfortunately I cannot provide any update on the expenditure of S106 contributions towards secondary education although I believe a public consultation in relation to the expansion of Wilmslow High School is imminent.

If residents would like to contact me directly to discuss these matters further my details are available on the Cheshire East Council website.

Councillor Toni Fox - Independent
Dean Row Ward - Wilmslow
Richard Nolan
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 2:07 pm
I strenuously believe it is time the Fraud squad were brought in too
Investigate the financial inappropriate dealings that,
Cheshire East Council have got going on that nobody knows about.,NOW.
IT'S time we found out the Truth about what is going on,with CEC. £££. ##.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 1st February 2018 at 10:04 pm
I get the impression that the Independent CEC Councillors are swimming in treacle; created by the ruling party and their sponsors.
Martin Kitchin
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 7:49 pm
Peter Taylor.

Its been a long week Peter, but you're a tad too cryptic for the average reader at 8:30 at night.

Don't quite know what you mean by :-

"...the Independent CEC Councillors are swimming in treacle; created by the ruling party and their sponsors."

Can you may elucidate further ?

Thank you.
Stuart Redgard
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 10:40 pm
Toni

Thank you for the update and your efforts. It is appreciated.
Helene Marshall
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 11:57 pm
Toni Fox writes ....‘Unfortunately, also according to advise from the consultant, if it is not possible to re-instate this old drainage system to divert some water off the site options for improvements to it are necessarily going to be constrained. This is likely to result in having to raise, by a suitable level, all public areas, play areas, and the circular pathway, whilst the remaining, lower, areas will remain as waterlogged as currently and potentially more so.‘


This field which s supposed to serve as the play area for the Summerfield still estate has always suffered from drainage issues. Other parks in the area have had many thousands of pounds spent upon them, why should we have to settle for a few raise paths and a piece of grass that will effectively be a quagmire. Surely a solution to the drainage can be found? How can the developers of the adlington road site refuse to allow the water from the field to drain through the development they are building? How can a utility company block a drainage ditch and be allowed too? We cannot just accept this statement.
DELETED ACCOUNT
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 9:11 am
Helene - agree. I would add a further question: "How could a local authority continue to put the same condition into S106 agreements several times?" This begs the question whether they knew there was no solution anbd whether monies reverted back to developers if not spent within the time allotted.
Marc Staples
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 1:48 pm
As I have said in previous articles if it does not effect them directly then it is NOT a priority!
I guarantee if a councillor from CEC lived on the estate and had children or a dog or both and it prevented them from using the area they would do something about it. Maybe if we could put all off CEC councillors addresses on a map and then look at what works are being done around them or not in some cases then we would get a true picture of where their elegancies lie.