Plans to demolish the County Hotel and redevelop the site are scheduled to be determined by the Northern Planning Committee next week.
Harden Park Garden Limited has applied to demolish the existing three storey building and erect three residential blocks at the Harden Park site, which lies within within the North Cheshire Green Belt.
The scheme consists of 26 two bedroom apartments along with 64 car parking spaces.
The application was initially scheduled to be determined by the Northern Planning Committee last month but it was withdrawn from the agenda to allow officers more time to discuss potential affordable provision - which was the main reason the Planning Officer was recommending it for refusal.
The County Hotel has remained vacant since its closure in November 2009, and has subsequently fallen into a severe state of disrepair and has been subject to a number of incidences of vandalism and theft in recent years.
Alderley Edge Parish Council recommended refusal of the original proposal stating "This proposal constitutes significant overdevelopment within the greenbelt. The increased footprint and footage is significant. Ingress and egress from Harden Park will have considerable risk with added pressure from the former "Yesterdays" site, currently being developed, proposed developments on the Royal London site and ever increasing traffic on the A34/Alderley Road. A round about likely won't allow exit and so traffic lights could be the only option. The PC objects to the proposal being a gated complex. The positioning of the entrance directly opposite existing houses compromise their amenity and privacy."
Amended plans were received during the application period, six objections were received prior to the amendments with a further objection received following the re-consultation, which was a repeat of the earlier comment. Some of the issues received include: highway safety issues due to the number of cars proposed; inappropriate development in the Green Belt; over development of the site; underground parking will not be used instead Harden Park will be used; incorrect access position and there are more trees to be lost with this application than the previously approved development.
In his report for the May meeting the planning officer recommended the application for refusal because the proposal does not include any on-site affordable housing, stating there is a clear, proven need and he also commented that there was a lack of information as to the impact of the proposal on the bat roost potential of the trees.
However, having discussed the provision of affordable housing further, the Council has decided thatan off site contribution for affordable housing would be appropriate.
The report states "The Cheshire East Local Plan has been adopted since the last approval, and of specific relevance to the application is policy SC5 relating to affordable housing. This policy contains the following paragraph:
'Affordable housing is required to be provided on-site, however, in exceptional circumstances, where it can be proven that on-site delivery is not possible, as a first alternative, off-site provision of affordable housing will be accepted; as a second alternative a financial contribution may be accepted, where justified, in lieu of on-site provision.'
"Registered providers have been contacted by the applicant and no interest was forthcoming due to "issues of dwelling values, the fact that sales would have to be on a leasehold basis and the incidence of ground rents and management charges on occupancy". The Council's Housing section are satisfied that an off site contribution for affordable housing would be appropriate in this case, as it was for the previous approval. Discussions are ongoing as to the amount of the contribution and location of spend for any contributions. This will be confirmed in an update."
Therefore the planning application to demolish the County Hotel and redevelop the site is recommended for approval, subject to conditions and a s106 agreement, at the Northern Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, 6th June.
The planning officer states "The site comprises previously developed land in a sustainable location, with access to a range of local services and facilities nearby and has good public transport links. It would add to the stock of housing and its construction and occupation would result in social and economic benefits, albeit relatively minor.
"The development would make effective use of a previously developed site and would also result in the removal of the existing unsociable use of the hotel and pub, given the proximity of existing residential properties. The development would improve the appearance of the site which has been vacant for many years, and has fallen into disrepair.
"The proposed development is not considered to have a materially greater impact upon the openness of the Green Belt or the purpose of including land within it than the existing development. The proposal also raises no significant design, amenity, nature conservation or highway safety issues."
The plans for the County Hotel site can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 17/4989M.