Reader's letter: Development work starts on the Royal London agricultural fields

Readers may recall a previous letter that I wrote "The last harvest?" well, things have moved on and, this week, just a few weeks after the tennant farmer sowed another crop, a team of Site Investigation Surveyors arrived and are taking soil core samples in the agricultural field on Alderley Road.

This field and other pieces of land around the town were under Green Belt protection until the flawed CEC Local Plan was forced through, after more than one attempt. The number of houses "required" has subsequently been reduced, so there was no need for any of this Green Belt land to be grabbed by greedy developers. As I understand it there have now been far more planning consents given by CEC than even the original inflated figure (always open to correction).

Add into the mix the fact that someone at CEC deliberately falsified the Air Quality Monitoring figures, which are used as part of the planning application process; the formal Police investigation seems to have gone nowhere; possibly because the guilty parties have left CEC, it's difficult to know because the investigation does not appear to have formally been concluded, so nobody will discuss it in public.

It really is worth reading my original letter and following the links contained in it (and the ones which came later from other follow-up pieces in Wilmslow.co.uk ) it's very illuminating what certain characters said and how things have turned out; quite eye-opening, in fact. This is what local history is all about.

Myself and around 30 others have enduring Covenants with the land-owner (currently Royal London) these forbid the erection of any form of building on the field; when a house changed hands recently the new owners received a Covenant from The Land Registry, so these things are still in force.

Of course by the previous incarnation of CEC changing agricultural land into building land the value went through the roof; along with this development another is pending on what is the soon to vacated Royal London Campus on the other side of Alderley Road. Royal London are expected, under the NPFF guideline i10, "to work closely with those directly affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community".

Apart from one reply to a letter I sent to RL Head of property back in January 2018, I have received no contact from them at all; neither have any of the other residents involved. The cynically timed "exhibition" (for a few hours during one working day) seems to be all that has happened.

Rather worryingly, given the number of times the land either side of Alderley Road has flooded recently the plan for both these large developments is to send surface run-off water into the Whitehall Brook; the normal surface height of this stream is only a couple of feet below the level of the fields; local Residnets are seriously concerned that the flooding assessment has not come up with a workable plan. We were told the first time that it happened it was a "once in 200 year event"; actually it has been more than ten times in twelve months.

Is it time to have a startegic review of this planning consent, taking into consideration what we now know about Climate Changes and the actual housing needs?

Pete Taylor.

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Comments

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

Chris Neill
Saturday 9th May 2020 at 10:00 am
Doesn't it always seem to go , you don't know what you,ve got till its gone. This will be a tragedy on priceless green belt which protects our town, supports precious nature, and which locals don't want.
Was it forced through by lies as well?
Tragic.
Nick Jones
Sunday 10th May 2020 at 9:44 am
@ Chris + Pete .. They 'paved paradise and put up a parking lot ' but it might be more than Joni's 'dollar and a half ' to see them...

This green belt tragedy caused by the previous inept councillors,fortunately booted out for their grand deceit and duplicitous conduct,from Lyme Green to co-socious and a whole lot more.
Paul Maddock
Wednesday 13th May 2020 at 5:10 pm
The current 'site works' soil sampling teams working on the site, have nothing to do with the development of the site. It is my understanding that they are from the environment agency and have been ordered in after the winter flooding - shown in your later pictures. While the site eventually will be developed, you should not be incorrectly using this team to highlight that proposed development when they are nothing to do with it.

You want to criticise and highlight the flooding problems in the area, but then when someone actually tries to investigate this, you want to criticise and highlight the potential development - which they have nothing to do with!!!! No Progress, everything must stay the same, no change, stagnation, the town must be frozen in time......... Everything changes, land gets developed, most of Wilmslow has been urbanised, why should this small strip of green sandwiched between two built up areas not be part of the progress - it is only a matter of time.

If it was true 'green belt' then you would have a good case, but it is not. In reality, you are talking about a 1/4 mile stretch of open land completely enclosed on all 4 sides by buildings - residential and commercial. From a former worker in a town planning dept, this patch in no way meets any criteria for 'green belt' land. It is close to areas of land that do meet the criteria, but does not itself.

The fact is, we have a growing population, and not enough housing for them all to live in. Ultimately - you would rather have no development and increase the homelessness problems in the North West than have a development on a patch of land that is already surrounded by buildings? Are you comfortable in your own, probably owned, home? I know many local people who cannot afford to live in the area any more because there is a shortage of available accommodation driving house prices up, yet you can sit in your secured owned home criticising development and denying others the home ownership rights you take for granted. None of us live in a bubble, join the interconnected real world - to every story there are two sides, please think about this before you choose to shout about only one side of the story.
Anita Willoughby
Friday 29th May 2020 at 9:02 pm
Paul Maddock says ... ''most of Wilmslow has been urbanised, why should this small strip of green sandwiched between two built up areas not be part of the progress - it is only a matter of time.''

I ask why should we not be allowed to keep a small strip of green separating two built-up areas? Should not even even a small strip of green be left between two urbanisations for a sense of place and community? ''Everything gets developed'' is not good for health, wellbeing, or for social cohesion. In the local plan, this strip of green was not deemed to be the separator between Wilmslow from Alderley Edge but from the ground it very much looks and feels that way.

I take nothing for granted. A comfortable life is hard come by. In this case 'progress' is a euphemism for a deterioration in the quality of resident's lived environment to make money for some, probably already wealthy people. Based on the builds happening right now, I do not believe the kind of housing envisaged for this development will respond to the needs of the homeless in the North West. See for example an article above regarding Gustav Bonnier. First search result: 'Exclusive property developments in Cheshire.' As for the growing population. Ask how that can be continued indefinitely with development. There has to be a sustainable way, or there will be no way.
Pete Taylor
Saturday 30th May 2020 at 8:13 pm
Unfortunately Mr Maddock’s first paragraph is totally wrong. Local residents spoke to the site-investigation contractors and established that they were working for the developers. I subsequently Had a lengthy conversation with the Environment Agency senior manager responsible for dealing with flooding events in Wilmslow/Alderley. Not only did they not have any investigations in progress, they were unaware of any flooding events in this area. He assured me that, subject to current staffing difficulties, he would request that an on-site investigation would be instigated ASAP.
I’m afraid that I only scanned the rest of Mr Maddock’s contribution, so cannot pass comment on the veracity of the content.
Thanks for commenting Anita; any other contributions from local residents would be welcome.
Alan Brough
Monday 1st June 2020 at 2:17 pm
One can only speculate as to what motive Mr Maddock might have for attempting such a deception.

As a former worker in a Town Planning Department he is better placed than most to see that the ongoing development in Wilmslow and surrounding area is doing nothing to aid the homeless and is driven purely by profit.

As for overcrowding, if Covid19 teaches us anything it is that densely populated areas present huge problems in providing a safe and sustainable existence.

Green spaces of any size or type should be viewed as a protective barrier and not as an easy opportunity to inflate Developers profits.

What Mr Maddock conveniently overlooks is the fact that residents have enduring covenants from the landowner - no doubt this commitment would have provided significant re-assurance when the property transactions were made. For Royal London to renege on that commitment is frankly deplorable and completely at odds with the image that the business seeks to project.
Tony Haluradivth
Monday 1st June 2020 at 7:30 pm
Perhaps Mr Maddock would care to come back and dissuade us from the idea (which I am sure is percolating amongst some of us ) that he is not connected in any way with the proposed development. Many former town planners make a lucrative income advising Property developers on how to negotiate around tricky planning applications with all the knowledge acquired when they benefited from the Public Purse to pay salaries . I am though sure that he has no axe to grind and was merely commenting from the perspective of one who really cares abput ramming this island with a too large population , insufficient infrastructure and the need to cram folk in cheek by jowl in housing units(especially useful for humanity during pandemics). "Pile em high and build em cheap" when there are many old buildings which coukd be refurbished and provide decent airy housing for families desperate to get on the housing ladder. *Enlightened community spirited projects in Liverpool revitalising Victorian terraces comes to mind here. Sorry Mr Maddock your 'spiel' (dressed up as a guilt tripping humanitarian rant) comes straight from a big Property Developer's playbook. Check your facts before you yourself accuse decent local folk of misrepresenting the truth. (We have already seen this pathetic finger pointing employed by some commenters who were miffed at the giant Care Home on Handforth Road losing an appeal).This has nothing to do with nimbyism and everything to do with not allowing develoment to get out of hand. Some of us lived in damp bedsits and lodgings for years and did not acquire our modest homes outright until in our 50's. And this through scrimping, saving and often going without.

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