Plans submitted for new business park on former Green Belt

Outlines plans have been submitted to Cheshire East Council for an office development at a new business park located on land to the west of the A34 Bypass at Pendleton Way and east of railway line.

The site for the new 'Wilmslow Business Park', which is currently agriculture land, lies south of Wilmslow High School and north of The Royal London site.

The application relates to the land located within the southern portion of the widerWilmslow Business Park site, which was removed from the Green Belt in 2017 and has been allocated for employment use in Cheshire East Local Plan. Design features have been incorporated in to the Illustrative Masterplan to enable the northern part of the 4 hectare site to be developed in the future.

The initial plans are for the erection of up to 17,162m2 of office floorspace across 8 units and ancillary amenity space along with 572 car parking spaces and a cycle hub.

Access to the site will be via a new junction from the north bound carriageway on the A34 bypass, which was was granted planning permission in October 2017.

Pedestrian and cyclist access has been accommodated within the Illustrative Masterplan, for potential future connection to an existing underpass under the railway on the south side of the site, or via an existing footpath to the north of the site. Further routes through the north of the site, linking with the existing public footpath adjacent to the school's all weather playing pitches are also being explored following recent discussions with Wilmslow High School.

The Illustrative Masterplan shows a potential 'campus-style' development surrounded by green spaces and cycle routes. The buildings are expected to be highly glazed, though the layout and appearance of the buildings will be subject to tenants' individual requirements and further planning applications.

The plans, submitted on behalf of A & HD Wain, can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 19/4759M.

Planning Applications, Wilmslow Business Park


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

Nick Jones
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 11:25 am
....Further decimating the green belt and ignoring public opinion.. Disgraceful !
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 12:29 pm
Wilmslow already has plenty of empty office space; when Royal London pulls out there will be even more. IF Royal London builds even more unwanted offices on their site it becomes ridiculous, even before this so-called Business Park.

Wilmslow (like everywhere else in the UK) needs to plant thousands of trees; Wilmslow also needs a car park close to the centre- so why not combine both? A car park under a tree canopy! It's been done before. This site would be ideal.

Shame on those current and former Councillors who removed this and other land from OUR Green Belt.
David Pearce
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 12:35 pm
Tightly hemmed in by the bypass & the main railway line I would hardly call this prime green belt land.

Maybe the useful bit of comparable land left to the north side of this development to the roundabout, being closer to the town centre, could be utilised for much needed all day car parking parking?
Pippa Jones
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 1:14 pm
It is worrying that another big development is being planned so near to the High School. There will be 572 car park spaces which inevitably will mean an extra 572 cars driving in in the morning and out in the evening, adding to the air pollution surrounding the school. We hear almost daily of more scientific studies demonstrating the impact of air pollution on us all; from strokes, cancer, heart attacks and asthma to miscarriages, dementia and early brain ageing. Isn't it time we really started to address the root causes of atmospheric pollution which are mainly vehicle emissions?
Pete Taylor is right in that there seems to be plenty of empty office space in Wilmslow. If we really need another business park, why not take his advice and plant a wood over the car park and around all the buildings? And perhaps ensure there are plenty of EV charging points for electric cars and bikes in the car park?
It's really time to think about the impact of invisible atmospheric pollution on the lives of the people who live here...particularly young people who will be exposed to higher levels of it for more of their lives with potentially devastating effects. We can't just carry on as we have been doing....we need some radical changes to keep our children healthy. Putting another 500 cars on the road just alongside the High School doesn't seem right.
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 3:11 pm
This is a prime spot for a much needed sixth form college with facilities for those forced to stay in education and currently excluded from our wonderful high school if they fail to obtain 4/5 GCSEs. At present Macclesfield college or some other a journey away are their only choice. Perhaps the Parkway Packer has something helpful to add!!!
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 3:20 pm
Every time where I have lived, Wilmslow, Leicester, and soon Congleton, when any bypass is built sooner or later the nearby agricultural land is released to business parks and housing at which point the bypass ceases to be such and becomes just another road servicing the development. After that another by pass or ring road?
David Smith
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 3:37 pm
I agree to all of the above.
Yhis site would be a contender for the Wilmslow PARK & RIDE that is oft suggested and if not, then a perfect site for the planting of a new Wilmslow Forest/Wood to prove that all this talk of 'going green' in our town is actually rather genuine.
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 3:52 pm
There are not words I can describe this debacle as the air would be blue! So much for the blue sky thinkers and planners who despite their assurances are hellbent on snaffling our precious green belt. With to many firms already established to overkill in this town the thought of this makes my blood boil. The council has new style members who stood for no political party, only for the good of the town. I am still awaiting results from what they are doing?
Martin Duguid
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 4:11 pm
Outrageous, unimaginative and irresponsible are just 3 polite adjectives I can use to describe this plan. Come on new council members!! Add value to Wilmslow by using your 'independence' to oppose the potential damage to our town and to promote some of the excellent ideas mentioned above instead.
William McQueen
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 4:20 pm
Feedback so far not very creative.

Park and Ride - waste of time as no-one in Wilmslow (or commuting here) wants to be more than a few steps away from their destination. You only have to look at the cars parked unlawfully in/around Alderley Rd, Grove St and Waitrose. I really think P&R wouldn't attract (so called) "Wilmslow people", they prefer the space afforded by double yellow lines.

Business Park is a good idea bringing more high quality employment to our town to help (maybe) town centre retailers, restaurants and the like.

Sixth Form College is also a great idea. How about if one of the buildings on the Business Park was used as such? Combining learning and future employment for our teenagers - seems an ideal solution.
Robert Collins
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 4:21 pm
It’s a complete no-brainier that the addition of this additional traffic plus the thousands of extra cars from the soon-to-be-built Handforth ‘Garden Village’ (wot a larf!) will bring the A34 to absolute gridlock. Come on Councillors - get a grip!
David Briggs
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 4:57 pm
So why no mention in the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan ???
John Clegg
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 5:06 pm
Of course, this is what exactly is needed, isn't it?
So all the buildings in the old Gibson's yard alongside the Bollin Valley linking Manchester Rd to the A34 Sir Mo Farah Way, the development on the corner of Manchester Rd and Swan st, and the developments on Water Lane are all full, are they?
Suzanne Walford
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 6:08 pm
I just find this whole green belt business so confusing. What was the point in designating green belt areas to protect them from development if that decision can be overruled when someone wants to develop it? Am I missing something obvious? Any councillors here who could please explain how it all works?
Carol Shawcross
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 7:46 pm
I find the above suggestion and the suggestion of using any green belt (or safeguarded land which was former green belt) absolutely disgraceful......I want to know ‘who’ changed the definition of “green belt”????????!!!!!!!!!!!!
So sad. But I guess it will go ahead anyway as residents comments and thoughts never count!
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 7:56 pm
Those of you ranting at the recently-elected Councillors must surely be aware that this is a legacy development from our previous Conservative CEC? Unfortunately, in their unseemly scramble to approve their Local Plan (at the second desperate attempt) they consigned much of OUR Green Belt land to greedy Developers.

Other places in the UK seem to be resisting similarly money-driven, short sighted, land-grabs and are chucking out planning applications based, as this one is, on falsified figures and "assumptions".

The next one coming rapidly up the tracks is the "Royal London" agricultural fields to the West of Alderley Road. These fields have multiple enduring Covenants forbidding any form of building development; yet the former (Conservative, again) CEC granted planning consents for up to 80 houses.

This would be a perfect site for a "people's woodland".

Previous "owners" of these fields abided by the Covenants, ICI stated, in one of their pension-plan documents that this agricultural land was sacrosanct and would never be built upon.

Greedy Royal London's asset-management department have refused to engage with those of us who hold Covenants (vested-interest alert!) and plough on (unlike the present tenant-farmer).

Surely this site should be used for planting a woodland open to the public? So what if the greedy corporate interests catch a financial cold? Those fleeting personalities will not be around to be held accountable in the next few months... we residents should not just roll over and accept this crap.
David Jefferay
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 9:35 pm
As one of the newly elected councillors (and councillor for the ward that this development will be in), i'd like to provide some explanation.
This site and the Royal London sites on Alderley Road were removed from the greenbelt and allocated as sites for employment (offices) as part of the Cheshire East local plan a couple of years ago. They were included because the research carried out on behalf of Cheshire East council indicated that Wilmslow needed more employment land to support the predicted growth. That evidence is on the Cheshire East website if you want to wade through it.

Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) didn't agree with the evidence and spent years campaigning against the sites being included. We had some successes but despite our efforts, these sites were included in the plan by the (then) council.

So that is where we are and these sites are now coming forward for planning permission.

The fact that sites are in the plan does not mean they will necessarily be granted permission as they still have to go through the planning permission process. However, as I found out today, the fact that they were scrutinised by the local plan process and the principle of their development accepted by the government inspector in signing off the plan, makes them more difficult to oppose.

Today the Cheshire East Strategic Planning Board (SPB), of which I am a member, considered the outline application for offices on the Royal London site. I argued that the allocation had been included to allow Royal London to expand but the situation had since changed following their decision to relocate and, not only do they no longer need the additional office space, their moving now leaves their existing offices vacant. I argued that the proposed offices would result in companies moving from office space in the town centre where parking is difficult to the new offices where parking is provided and that would have an adverse economic effect on the town centre and affect its vitality (when there is already significant empty office space in the town). Unfortunately I was unable to convince the other members of the SPB that the economic impact was a 'material consideration' in the planning decision. I tried to push for an assessment to confirm that there is a need for them before granting permission but the other members of the board were unconvinced and the application was passed (I think 7 against 2). I'm sorry but I tried.

With regards to the Wilmslow Business Park application, I would not be surprised if there is the same reluctance by members (and officers) to go against the local plan. If anything, I think this application probably has greater merit than the one passed today. If any of you have legitimate planning grounds against this application I would encourage you to comment on the planning portal and your comments will be considered by the SPB when it is discussed (probably in December). Similarly, if there is any support for it, please comment.

If you have any questions, please get in touch. My contact information is on the CEC website.
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 9:43 pm
What's the point of having a Local Plan if all the usual suspects are going to whinge about it being put into practice?!
David Jefferay
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 5:46 am
Barry, I don't have a problem with the local plan and I won't be objecting to developments on an ideology that they shouldn't have been included. I do think we should be mindful of changes of circumstances though and not just grant permission because they are in there. In today's case, if an assessment had been made showing that it was still needed, I may have voted for it.
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 6:58 am
#David Briggs.

Because this site had already been allocated for "Employment Use" as part of the Cheshire East Local Plan. As such legislation meant that there was nothing we could do about it other than propose policies in the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) that could be used to influence how it would be developed. Having had a "very quick" look at this application, I can perceive that there are a number of policies in the NP that can be be used by the CEC planners as "material considerations" to hopefully improve this application.

A "material consideration" is a matter that should be taken into account in deciding a planning application or on an appeal against a planning decision.
David Briggs
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 7:54 am
I repeat, why no mention or consideration in the Neighbourhood Plan???
Jon Newell
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 2:26 pm
For the sake of completeness, it should be pointed out that, in addition to Councillor Jefferay, Councillor Goldsmith (also elected in May 2019) spoke against the application, giving the views expressed by Residents of Wilmslow ad Wilmslow Civic Trust.
I spoke against the application as a representative of Wilmslow Town Council, repeating the objections that had been made by WTC against the original Royal London planning application in 2017.
David Jefferay
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 4:08 pm
@ David Briggs.I had minimal involvement in the development of the Neighbourhood plan but I would guess the intent was to have policies that could be applied to any/all developments not site specific policies.
I know it identifies key sites but those are ones that would not qualify as "strategic sites" in the local plan.
David Smith
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 6:23 pm
It would seem a correct procedure to me that IF 'Green Belt' land is to be built on it must have the designation removed - and since it is so designated for the benefit of the people living locally that this process would be very difficult, take ages, cost lots of money but ONLY if the people living locally agree to any change. This way it might never happen. Imagine if Hampstead Heath or any Green area in London was proposed to be built on - there would be rioting in the capital.
David Jefferay
Thursday 24th October 2019 at 7:13 pm
@David Smith, to be fair, it does take ages and a lot of money to have land removed from the greenbelt. It can only be done during the production of the local plan. The theory is that they have removed enough this time so as not to have to remove anymore until 2045 (this plan runs until 2030 and the next until 2045).
You can build on green belt but, in most cases, you have to demonstrate exceptional circumstances which is actually quite difficult.
David Smith
Friday 25th October 2019 at 7:46 am
Thanks Mr Jefferay, but WHO decides that green belt land that is for the benefit of the community [people] shall no longer be green belt? Not the people - obviously. Then what are the motives of these people and WHO benefits? Construction corporations and already very wealthy persons or companies like Manchester Airport [building a car park in Cheshire Green Belt] who should be doing so somewhere else more appropriate perhaps? I think you are espousing how the system works and I am espousing how it SHOULD work.
David Briggs
Friday 25th October 2019 at 8:19 am
#Stuart Redgard

My thanks for the response. I just find it surprising that a known, existing and significant proposal was not addressed or even labelled on maps etc in the NP. I am concerned that as the proposal makes progress, passing reference will be made to the NP as justification for (or against) - when it was never even addressed. I'm afraid another example (to me) of the inappropriate nature of a referendum/Yes/No process to determine issues such as spatial planning.
David Jefferay
Friday 25th October 2019 at 11:19 am
David Smith, the council decides and then the decision is ratified by the government inspector after hearing representation from all interested parties.
Yes that is how it works. How it should work I don't know because it is unlikely that the residents would take a long term view and say yes we need to develop some fields for the future (in Wilmslow anyway).
However, my view, and the view that RoW has been shouting for years, is that development should be to meet local needs. Too much green belt has been taken out around Wilmslow this time, the evidence just was not there to support it based on Wilmslow's needs and we believe the required growth could be achieved using brown field sites. Unfortunately, we are in a location close to Manchester which puts the town in a good position to help drive growth in Cheshire East and the local plan is on a borough basis not a town by town basis.
The other factor is that there is a lot of public apathy. People don't get involved until the building starts on their doorsteps whereas the developers are pushing their agenda right from the start to influence decisions. Also, the developers know the planning rules so can play the game whereas Joe Public generally just says we don't want development.
Roger Bagguley
Sunday 27th October 2019 at 2:42 pm
The developer in the case of this Wilmslow Business Park claims to be bringing huge benefits to the town and providing quality jobs. It would be good to read in the brochures a list of the benefits they envisage local people will enjoy.

What is the definition of a quality job and where should I live if I only qualify for a job not fitting the definition? Clearly not in Wilmslow moving forward.

I am thinking a quality job is one that affords 4 and 5 bedroom houses and attracts inward migration, most of which will be on a daily basis. I guess a job of lesser quality affords smaller properties including Social Housing. So as to avoid a continuing social divide is it not the case the jobs being planned for on this Business Park and for Royal London should match the full range of the skills offered by all Wilmslow residents? Jobs for all close to home. Sustainable and eco friendly.
Ludo McGurk
Monday 28th October 2019 at 9:56 am
I own an electronics development and production facility in Handforth employing a growing workforce. I now need bigger premises but can't find anything in this area, although nearly all my staff live in this area and some either walk to work or use the train.
The new proposed development looks nice, but is there anything for the likes of us, and what about access for those of my staff who don't drive? This is out of town, so necessitates coming by car; not really a move in the right direction? It's well over a mile to walk from Wilmslow Station.
I also seem to remember that this very site was requested for use as our long promised replacement tip many years ago, but was discounted because of traffic access at the High School roundabout. The new scheme is to use a direct access onto the by-pass which looks like an obvious hazard, and why can it be a business park development but not a tip?
Alan Brough
Monday 28th October 2019 at 1:24 pm
Ludo McGurks post (above) hints at another very significant problem served-up for local people by unthinking CE Council.

The closure of the Waste Recycling facility at Newgate some years ago, means that Wilmslow / Alderley Edge residents now have to travel to Knutsford, Macclesfield or Poynton to responsibly dispose of waste. This necessitates a round trip journey of between 15-20 miles - usually resulting in a fairly lengthy wait at busy weekend times as the facilities are over-subscribed.

Is it not time that CE Council be forced to act with more social / environmental responsibility and if greenbelt land has to be used, priority should be given to providing beneficial services for local people and their built environment.

The land in question might usefully be used for a Waste Recycling scheme or a Park & Ride facility serving Wilmslow and it's railway station with a regular shuttle-bus.....or both of the above.