Refusal of plans for new car dealership places 130 Wilmslow jobs under threat

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The future of 130 local jobs are now under threat after the Strategic Planning Committee refused planning permission for a new car dealership with a showroom, workshops, and offices at Coppice Way in Handforth.

Halliwell Jones were refused planning permission for a modern car showroom adjacent to Handforth Dean retail park which would have enabled them to consolidate their sales, servicing and repair activities - securing 133 existing jobs and created approximately 36 new jobs.

Speaking at the Strategic Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, 1st August, the applicant Phillip Jones urged them to approve application saying "I promised each of you I will have constructed a building which sits well in Wilmslow and which will be of support to many families, not just in my business but also in the local community where I am very heavily involved."

Mr Jones is the MD of Halliwell Jones, a North West based company of 30 years standing which now employs over 600 people across the north west.

Speaking about the planning officers recommendation for refusal, after 10 years of searching for a new site, he said "This is despite not so long ago during discussions with us stating it was of high quality and ticked all the boxes.

He continued "The recommendation today is therefore confusing, disappointing and potentially catastrophic for my business and indeed many of his employees.

"The risk to over 130 jobs at Wilmslow, many of which could be classed as heads of family jobs, they are very highly technical. So your decision today does not just affect 130 people it affects 130 families."

Mr Jones brought with him 'official documentation' sent to him from two senior directors of BMW UK which said "is not threatening to remove my Wilmslow franchise. It is in fact an absolute letter of termination."

He continued "It's a termination of my business effective from the 30th September this year. Subsequently upon my appeal it has been deferred until June 2019 subject to being resindered only if I have in place by this time concrete and approved, local authority and BMW plans for my development."

Halliwell Jones, Planning Applications


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

Terry Roeves
Saturday 4th August 2018 at 8:32 pm
Ahem! June 2019. Post Brexit decision by BMW UK?
Peter Evans
Saturday 4th August 2018 at 9:06 pm
Ummm, this clearly has nothing to do with Brexit, Mr Roeves. It has everything to do with a stupid, shortsighted, contemptible and bizarre local authority whose planning officers and committee have demonstrated no consistent logic over the years I have lived in the town. In a previous threat on this subject, i jokingly suggested HJ should maybe get Lidl to sponsors their planning application or provide another local Mr Jones with a nice new 7 series - either of which would probably help. The argument the council used to refuse this (again in a previous thread) is incomprehensible. I am beginning to really believe that CEC genuinely want to destroy Wilmslow - I don't believe they could be so consistently stupid as they have been over recent years....
Rick Andrews
Sunday 5th August 2018 at 4:53 am
Another Cheshire East own goal. The site is currently unoccupied and this is a quality development proposal. More attractive than the adjacent superstore delivery yard, trampoline warehouse and gym. Seems that it is OK to shoe horn offices, houses and apartments into every available space, but this application is refused for a collection of spurious and random reasons with no logic. I hope that Halliwell Jones will appeal and win.
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 5th August 2018 at 1:00 pm
Given that the Aston Martin dealership in Wilmslow was their best selling showrooms in the whole world last year - the chance of BMW leaving the town are close to zero. I understand the application was missing key elements, which may have caused its rejection and personally think this is a good site for it. However, making empty threats doesn’t help their case.
Jon Armstrong
Monday 6th August 2018 at 6:45 am
Terry - I would imagine it's that BMW think the current site a bit small, old fashioned, lacking facilities and not fulfilling the expectations of someone shopping at that end of the market. If you compare it to the dealerships for cheaper makes at Macclesfield and Stockport for example it's miles behind where the market is.
Drew Donaldson
Monday 6th August 2018 at 2:12 pm
Another example I fear, that common sense is the least common of all the senses.
Richard Armstead
Tuesday 7th August 2018 at 4:31 pm
Well well. Here we have a planning officer recommending refusal on the basis of policies SD2 and SE1 of the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy 2017. So let us first have a look at SD2:

ii. Contribute positively to an area’s character and identity, creating or reinforcing local
distinctiveness in terms of:
a. Height, scale, form and grouping;
b. Choice of materials;
c. External design features;
d. Massing of development - the balance between built form and green/public spaces;
e. Green infrastructure; and
f. Relationship to neighbouring properties, street scene and the wider neighbourhood;

The proposed site has no 'character or identity' , it is a wasteland. It is cheek by jowl with a retail park, ideal to most observers. Not adjacent to housing and in no way adversely affecting residential amenity. This same case officer recommended approval of the Lidl development at Summerfields Village, on the basis of policy SD2, next to a residential red brick housing development with the words " I consider it to be a welcome relief from all the red brick that surrounds it, and can be accommodated into this area without any significant harm to the character and appearance of the locality".

Surely the interpretation of policy SE1 by this case officer is relevant? :

1. Sense of place
i. Ensuring design solutions achieve a sense of place by protecting and enhancing the
quality, distinctiveness and character of settlements;
ii. Ensuring sensitivity of design in proximity to designated and local heritage assets and
their settings;
iii. Ensuring that places are designed around the needs and comfort of people and not
vehicles, so that layout, street design and parking is in accordance with the principles
set out in Policy CO 1 and Manual for Streets;
iv. Ensuring that proposals are underpinned by character and design assessment
commensurate with the scale and complexity of the development;
v. Encouraging innovative and creative design solutions that are appropriate to the local
context; and
vi. Ensuring a high quality public realm that enhances conditions for pedestrians and
cyclists and creates opportunities for social interaction.

Not so - the proposed BMW site at Handforth Dean has no 'sense of place' - it is a stand alone development in keeping with a retail park. Ideal from Joe Public's point of view, not interfering in any way with residents and their right to 'peaceful enjoyment' of their homes.

So we have a Cheshire East planning case officer interpreting Cheshire East planning policies to fit his own agenda. We must ask - why is the BMW application so wrong and the Lidl application so right, in relation to these policies?

There are obviously other factors at play.

1. Planning Committee members are like lambs to the slaughter - the case officer says its OK so surely it must be OK? Or vice versa. Certain members of these committees have no grasp of their own policies. They have no grasp of the local identity and care even less. More importantly they have no bottle and most cannot think for themselves.
2. Maybe Mr Jones needs a teach-in with Lidl management or Orbit Developments Ltd as how to best approach Cheshire East Council when planning his company's future.
3. Watch this site for future applications to develop it and then compare the case officer's recommendation with this one.
4.It is clearly no so much about policies but more in keeping with a joke 'it is how you tell 'em.'

I clearly have sympathy with Mr. Jones but at the same time it is important to know which buttons to push, if you want to get anywhere with these Development Managers and planning committee members at Cheshire East Council.
Martin Kitchin
Tuesday 7th August 2018 at 5:18 pm
Summerfields Residents Association applied under the Freedom of Information Act to Cheshire East for release of the pre planning advice the very same case officer provided Lidl with in 2016.

It was very clear then that regardless of what the new store looked like, no matter how close it was to existing homes, no matter the huge volume of objections from residents (and even from the Cheshire East own in house Urban Design team ) Cheshire East Planning had very much made their mind up.

We have folowed the Lidl case, and this application very carefully and studied the supporting documentation in depth.

And we're frankly amazed at this outcome. Talk about double standards and injustice from Cheshire East planning !

Sadly, it's too late to have any further influence on the Lidl debacle but let's hope Halliwell Jones appeal and win.

And oh, this time residents get something appropriate in scale and style on Summerfields Village when Halliwell Jones finally close the doors on their current Mini dealership and move to Handforth Dean....

Rick Andrews
Wednesday 8th August 2018 at 10:25 am
Makes you wonder about the competency of the planning department - whoever is in charge should be made to account for these inconsistencies. Of course, CE planning is now Civicance , so maybe appoint a different and better company.
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 8th August 2018 at 6:48 pm
I’d rather they moved to Macclesfield. Jolly sight (or site!) more convenient. That’s where Mercedes are, amongst others.
Rick Andrews
Thursday 9th August 2018 at 7:21 am
Why make the 130 employees travel to Macclesfield??
Gordon Hyslop
Thursday 9th August 2018 at 7:42 am
Utter utter nonsense from a department of clowns
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 9th August 2018 at 7:54 am
Jaguar remember took the dealership from Royles and did not replace it elsewhere. BMW could well follow suit.
And Terry Roeves may well be correct.
Wendy Falk
Thursday 9th August 2018 at 8:34 am
CEC normally have someone looking at these comments and quickly responding, backing up their decisions - no comment this time... Mmmm... does that mean there are no 'real' reasons for rejecting BMWs proposals... It would appear so! CEC? The floor is yours...
I would be interested to know where CEC personnel live, wouldn't you?
Peter Yates
Thursday 9th August 2018 at 9:08 am
I spent 20 years in the motor trade and can recall the problem that Bluebell had getting the planning passed for the workshop at the rear of the present Halliwell Jones / Bluebell site.

It strikes me that it makes no sense refusing an application for a purpose built facility in a location that has no detrimental effect on its immediate surroundings.

It is not specific on what grounds the application is refused, just SD2 & SE1 - Is it the colour of the Bricks, the size of the windows?? Did they give Mr Jones details of what they will accept, or is that outside their remit!

Whatever it is, the planners need to get a reality check - Can we afford to loose that many jobs in the area?