Building of 14 houses is 'a price worth paying for the significant environmental benefits'


After nearly four years controversial plans to build houses on part of Lindow Moss, a raised mire peat bog whose origins date back to the last Ice Age, were approved by the Strategic Planning Board on Wedneday, 19th December.

The owners of the land Andrew Rowland and Richard Bond submitted two planning applications which will enable them to build 14 detached homes on the site, which is best known for the discovery of the preserved bog body of Lindow Man in 1984. The processing area will be replaced with a development of 14 detached family homes and in return they have agreed to restore the 28 hectares peat extraction site to a natural wetland habitat.

Councillor Christopher Dodson said "Having spoken at the meeting on behalf of Wilmslow Town Council in favour of granting these two permissions I welcome the decisions.

"I would not normally support the building of 14 houses in the green belt but in this exceptional case this is a price worth paying for the significant environmental benefits which will stem from cessation of peat extraction and restoration of the peat extraction site 23 years earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

"The restoration process will take many years. I would like this to commence as soon as possible and to proceed as expeditiously as possible."

Pippa Jones of Transition Wilmslow said "Transition Wilmslow supported the two applications, albeit reluctantly, as we share the concern of many local residents about the principle of building on green belt, but we could see no alternative that would allow restoration of the Moss.

"Without these approvals, current planning conditions would allow peat cutting to continue until 2042, and the Wilmslow half of the Moss would become a landfill site. This would be an absolute disaster. The Moss is in urgent need of restoration, and without this, and soon, it will be irrevocably damaged. We therefore welcome the approval of both applications by the Strategic Planning Committee today, as if approved by the Secretary of State, the housing application will be linked to a clear restoration plan."

Pippa added "We welcome the decision of the Board to ensure that a community liaison committee is established. It is important that CEC sets this up urgently to ensure that the views of all local people are taken into account, and that we can be kept informed of progress on the restoration. We did propose an expert Restoration Committee to monitor the restoration process but unfortunately this was not approved.

"We are hopeful that one of the planning conditions will be the provision of a boardwalk to the findspot of Lindow Man as it is essential that this important historical landmark is properly acknowledged.

"The recent history of Lindow Moss since the 2003 planning approval has been a sorry one, with devastating effects on the Moss. There is an opportunity now for the council and the restorers to engage properly with the community and ensure that this vital landscape is properly restored."

Planning permission for peat extraction on Lindow Moss was granted by five separate permissions between 1959 and 1967, and would otherwise have expired in February 2042.

Lindow Moss


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

Terry Roeves
Thursday 20th December 2018 at 4:13 pm
Perhaps WTC can set up the Restoration Committee. A wonderful opportunity for great things to happen for future generations.
A Christmas gift for all of our Residents.
Anthony Evans
Thursday 20th December 2018 at 6:07 pm
In common with Residents of Wilmslow and Transition Wilmslow we too want to see restoration of the moss.
Unfortunately, after 20 years of dealing with CCC, CEC and Croghan Peat
we have learned not to trust a word they say.
Watch this space.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 20th December 2018 at 9:14 pm
A most regrettable decision.
As I understand it they've already bottomed-out the peat in one area- how on earth can they continue to cut peat until 2042? There's not that much left, the place would be flooded long before that date; look at the water table and all the flooded sand quarries not too far away.

Strikes me that both Transition Wilmslow and WTC have blinked too soon here, especially given the non-compliance over many years.

As the operators and Cheshire East Council have both manifestly failed for years to abide by due legislative process, why should we believe that Croghan will do anything whatsoever to after they have sold on the site with planning consent?

CEC Ward Councillors?
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 20th December 2018 at 9:30 pm
5 hours of controlled debate with officers unable to answer some searching questions raised by RoW Independent Toni Fox ended with the casting vote of the Conservative Chair declaring her support for the development of 14 houses in advance of the vote: One can only assumed such undemocratic behaviour is designed to influence the outcome. Such is democracy Cheshire East style. Supporting this development is a huge gamble on the part of those present yesterday. Compromised principles in the belief the sale of the land and the profit from housing will afford the regeneration of the peat bog to a raised natural wetland. Everyone wants this to happen but an absolute shedload of policies designed to protect the green belt were cast aside by the presiding officers in order to rid CEC of the problems brought upon themselves by failing to enforce the conditions imposed upon Croghan Peat when their licence to extract peat was renewed.

Does any member of the wider public really believe the development of 14 semi prestigious houses will raise the cash required to regenerate this bog over the next 20 years or more? Those in support must do despite the presiding officers being unable to identify any more than a few thousand pounds and not really having a clue of the final actual cost of the project. There were legal issues too that could not be answered with any clarity.

RoW is not opposed to the development of brown curtilage within the green belt but this site demands a mixed development that meets the housing requirement for Wilmslow - 1,2 and 3 bedroom houses of which 30% must be affordable and on site, not even identified in the application. What we are left with here are 14, 4 bedroom houses that close down openness that are totally inappropriate within the green belt. All admitted by the presiding officers but in their view outweighed in planning terms by the bonuses the regeneration will bring, the gamble with so many odds stacked against.

As we see it at RoW, the regeneration of Lindow Moss, of such national and international importance, both historically and scientifically, is deserving of much greater planned and guaranteed funding than the winnings from a gamble. A petition of currently close on 1000 local people agree. Not enough money in the budget, the history of Crogan Peat failing to comply and CEC failing to enforce shortens the odds. Let's hope we have it wrong but as Tony Evans of Saltersley Common Preservation Society says above, watch this space. Those gambling must know they are not on a cert so fingers are crossed and for a very long time.

The way planning decisions are made in Cheshire East has to change. The process needs to be challenged and next May gives us all a great opportunity to do something about it.
Dave Cash
Tuesday 25th December 2018 at 2:45 am
I suggest CEC Planning Comm et al have succumbed to Applicant blackmail and are no longer 'fit for purpose'.
They could hantiantoave required Applicants to restore the peat bog to an agreed standard (say6 years) before grranting permission for 14x4 bed homes in the 'green belt'.
CEC & WTC May elections approach.
Richard Stain
Wednesday 2nd January 2019 at 5:56 pm
I agree with you Dave Cash, CEC Planning are not fit for purpose and never have been. It is difficult to understand the thinking of the planners - do they truly believe that Crogam Peat are going to restore the bog, do they really believe that will happen? If they do then they are either naive, stupid or they have an ulterior motive which cannot be stated here. In any case they are not fit for purpose.

This double planning application is an affront to the planning system itself, it was blackmail pure and simple and I am sad that Transition Wilmslow saw fit to support this application - they too will be culpable when Crogham Peat go into voluntary liquidation as soon as they've sold the land. Who then will restore the bog?

Richard Stain
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 2nd January 2019 at 6:53 pm
No doubt we can expect something from the owner of the piece of land adjacent, once the precedent has been set.
Maria Quin
Thursday 3rd January 2019 at 12:54 am
Ermmm - detached houses in south Wilmslow to be affordable? Really?? They really do think we’re stoopid!! Grrrrr!
Anthony Evans
Thursday 3rd January 2019 at 10:39 am
Whilst CEC consider some differences in their statement to the Strategic Planning Board and ours concerning the hydrology on site we would like residents to know they are not alone.
Messrs Rowland and Bond are also embroiled in a battle in Somerset. It appears that Mendip Council have written to them saying they are in Breach of Planning Control, letters we are told that have been totally ignored and no enforcement action taken.
Ring any bells?
Carol Shawcross
Thursday 3rd January 2019 at 7:06 pm
I totally agree with Dave Cash, there should have been a planning clause attached to this planning permission! Croghan Peat cannot be trusted to restore this special scientific area “after” they have sold the land to developers!! They should have been forced to regenerate the area “before” full planning was granted.
It is outrageous this has planning permission has been passed with no evidence they will ever comply and regenerate the area. I very much doubt that Croghan Peat will ever restore the area. As Anthony Evans points out, there is currently a similar battle in Somerset, Medip council are suffering the consequences of the owners not keeping their promises!
Proper planning is not rocket science - CEC have let Wilmslow residents down yet again! And they are now off the hook themselves in respect of the special conditions they were supposed to ensure that Croghan Peat adhered to!