Businessman says his 'quick fix' for solving Wilmslow’s parking problems is being ignored

A local businessman believes he has a site which would make a significant contribution to solving Wilmslow's parking problems but it is being ignored by Cheshire East Council.

Mike Cooksey approached the Council, firstly in August 2017, with his proposal to build a car park on land to the rear of Heald Court on Hawthorn Lane. The site, which is owned by his company, lies within a conservation area and has been vacant for more than 20 years.

The site is currently available and the car park would provide around 80 long stay spaces for the contract market. The access road has already constructed and Mr Cooksey says the car park could be up and running within 6 months of obtaining planning permission, however, "the Council has shown no enthusiasm to enter into dialogue".

Mike Cooksey told "Should the option of creating a new deck at Broadway Meadow be followed up it will cost £3 m or more. There are no Cheshire East funds for this option and it still goes little way to resolving the issue. The Hawthorn Lane site is available and would be privately funded.

"I am unaware of the reason for the lack of enthusiasm from Cheshire East as indeed is the Town Council. The site meets all the criteria in terms of position and screening. It cannot be seen from a public vantage spot and its presence will surprise many."

Mr Cooksey believes there is no other potential site in the town that can provide a swift part resolution.

Councillor Martin Watkins, Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council said " It is important that all options be included in this survey, particularly his as, at the moment, it is the only 'quick fix' available for long-term parking in Wilmslow.

"Additionally, it comes at no cost to Cheshire East at Mike would fund it. His site is in a conservation area and the wider debate is do conservation areas have car parks. If we say No, then we need to be clear of the consequences of that decision."

In response to the proposal, Richard Hibbert, Head of Transport at Cheshire East Council said "I confirm that I have visited the site at your request where you outlined the prospective opportunity. At that visit, I believe we both agreed that the development must be considered through the statutory planning process. I anticipate that any application will be brought forward by yourself, through discussion with CEC planning. There should be no expectation that the Council will seek the promote a planning application for the site."

He added "At this stage, the Council's review study has focussed only on car parks under CEC management plus on-street parking provision. Therefore, the consultation would be the appropriate time for you to register the option at Hawthorn Lane. I encourage you to participate in the consultation event and your response will be helpful in finalising the strategy.

" The Council's report on parking will be silent on the option, as to do otherwise could be considered to prejudice any consideration at planning. The same applies to any other options for future parking provision in Wilmslow that are dependent on a change-of-use planning consent. My view is that only when there can be reasonable certainty of delivery can the Council's parking strategy take such options into account."

Richard Hibbert continued "As when we met, my best advice is to engage asap with the pre-application process. This will assist you most in determining the prospects for your concept. As members of my team will be engaged in considering any planning application, it is inappropriate for me to indicate any level of support for the ideas at this time."

Mike Cooksey told "There is, as is well published, a parking crisis in the town. This will not be resolved until long stay parking is provided. The options are very limited.

"Cheshire East carried out a report recently looking at the options but they did not consider privately owned sites. It was not in Richard Hibbert's mandate as his report states. The Town Council and I asked why as clearly there was limited scope to improve the position within Cheshire East ownership.

"They are now acknowledging they have to widen the scope. However, in purely planning terms the grant of consent would be controversial. Who wants a car park on their door step?

"However, the problem will only deteriorate and an inconvenience to the very few will benefit the whole town and allow it to prosper. It is currently being 'strangled'. Hence, without political support resulting from residents and businesses pressure an application would probably fail and Wilmslow town then retains the status quo.

"Cheshire East can make it happen as they have in Handforth, granting themselves consent for a new village on green belt land. There is a need to raise funds and that was their solution. The councillors wanted it and the planners accommodated."

He added "A planning application is expensive and I have no desire to waste money. If the residents were aware of the sites availability then support would follow."

Please share your views about Mr Cooksey's proposal to build a car park to the rear of Heald Court on Hawthorn Lane, which lies within a conservation area, via the comment box below.

Car Parking Review, Parking, Parking


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

Martin Watkins
Thursday 31st January 2019 at 4:27 pm
Cheshire East are hosting a consultation meeting for local businesses on Wednesday 6 February at 7pm at St Bart’s Parish Hall. Any business that would like to attend is asked to pass details to the Wilmslow Town Clerk () as soon as possible.

This is designed to be an exchange of ideas concerning parking problems in Wilmslow.

The postponed meeting for members of the public will be confirmed shortly, including location.
Fred Rayers
Thursday 31st January 2019 at 5:27 pm
An excellence site for a multi storey, with the added bonus that being at the western end of the town, when most current parking is to the East, it would help to reduce traffic through the town centre.
Ruth Lees
Thursday 31st January 2019 at 5:49 pm
A strange idea. This is the conservation area ( and possibly green belt?) Planning permission has been refused here on a couple of occasions recently.... The site backs onto The Carrs Park and is in a very residential, green and leafy area. Notwithstanding the current parking issues in Wilmslow it seems an inappropriate suggestion which I am suspicious of bearing in mind the owner’s previous attempts to develop the site.
Nick Jones
Thursday 31st January 2019 at 6:22 pm
The 'green belt' argument above shopudl hold water... but when you look at the dessimation of Green belt by CEC, with ward councillors and tribal lemmings voting to remove land from protection, contrary to National planning framework, identified special conditions, and diktat directly from PM @No 10... Well in CE the argument takes on a more TITANIC and nihilistic approach in disregarding required infrastructure, schools, medical centres etc etc ...

Against that backdrop and catalogue of failure's ;Fabricated Air pollution data , failed Local Plan etc .. ( I wont list..not enough space ).... Then All of a sudden Mike Cooksey's idea could well be a viable option worthy of meaningful deliberation..

In reality however, it will never be considered.. as it isn't CEC's own idea... and they will oppose it sitting in green belt !!! Ironic ..
Raymond James Wallace
Thursday 31st January 2019 at 8:09 pm
I have lived on Macclesfield Road for nearly 30 years, and have witnessed many crashes and attended a crash where two people died and one seriously injured. speed has played a big part in most, but parking on the road is another factor. Workers from Wilmslow, park on both sides of the road, sometimes at the narrowest part, the problems this causes is immense, Ambulances, Police and Fire Engines have all at sometimes have had to stop as cars race to be first through the narrow gaps. Trying to come out of your path onto the main road and not being able to see oncoming traffic coming around the bend near Davylands at ridiculous speeds, heading towards Hough Lane, also children coming home from school have to risk their lives dodging the parked cars while crossing the busy road. We have just had a terrible time with workmen working on a large plot on Macclesfield Road, they wasn't allowed to park on the plot, so parked on the main road, this caused arguments with car drivers shouting abusive language at each other, blasting their horns and many a wing mirror was smashed leaving glass outside our houses for us to get the flat tyres. Police were called on many occasions and left notes on the window screens to not park on the pavement, leaving no room for people to pass with prams and children, and having to go on the road to get by. We then witnessed the workmen looking at our house giving us the finger and ripping up the police note whilst laughing at us and giving us some choice language.

These are the problems we experience on a daily basis.

The solution: i believe it doesn't matter how many car park levels you have 2,4,6,8, if the charges are not priced sensible, the people will not use the facility and still park on the road. I understand moving the problem from one place to another is a concern, but i believe keeping the main roads free of parked cars is a must to prevent serious accidents at frightening speeds, and have a good flow for all cars and emergency service vehicles.

There are plenty of fields around Wilmslow, is it possible to buy up a couple of acres, let people park and provide a park and ride scheme.
Jon Newell
Friday 1st February 2019 at 7:42 am
In reference to Mr Wallace's comment.

I have long suspected that building workers are a significant cause of the parking problem. I am sure this was the case on Alderley Road where they set a precedent that was followed by others.

A suggested solution.

When granting planning permission, write into the permission that all workers' vehicles are to be parked within the site boundaries. No other class of worker has a right to park around the borders of their place of work.

To give this teeth, there should be penalties built in under which a progressive fine is levied for each breach - £100 first time, £200 second time, etc. This would be easy. CEC are rushing headlong into digital reporting. Simply set up a web site unto which interested parties can upload pictures of the offending vehicles.

Of course, this will give the developers problems but they are solveable. They will need to arrange a parking spot where parking is legal and does not cause dangerous obstruction and then bus in the work force. Obviously, this will cost money but if it is done at the outset it can be built into the costings. It will make the developments more expensive but at least the costs will be bourne by the beneficiaries rather than imposing a non financial but significant cost on those whose lives are disrupted during the construction.
Brian Fox
Friday 1st February 2019 at 8:58 am
Businessman says his 'quick fix' for solving Wilmslow’s parking problems is being ignored?

Alternatively, businessman with long-standing track record of attempting to cash in on inappropriate development sees an opportunity to use parking issue to circumvent planning law for his personal enrichment.
Jon Williams
Friday 1st February 2019 at 10:07 am
All true Brian
David Pearce
Friday 1st February 2019 at 10:14 am
Seems following item dated today following this article = 'Plans for multi-storey at Alderley Park approved' could also spark off another potential solution idea. i.e park & ride set up with all the space there is available at Alderley Park for such a scheme???
Alan Brough
Friday 1st February 2019 at 1:05 pm
I think Brian Fox (above) is perhaps right in his estimations.

The best and most viable option for improving the parking situation is to add multi-levels to the Broadway Meadow car park. Its Central, it's already under Council Ownership and it's unlikely to have any real adverse impact to neighbouring residential premises.

Any objection on the grounds of cost is short-sighted as, whilst there will inevitably be a considerable outlay to fund building, there will be a considerable and ongoing return.

But might the timing of such an investment be inopportune?

With electronic and driverless technology just around the corner we will likely see a significant increase in clean, green public transport as well as a big shift in the way we use our cars - a requirement for smart charging points and much less demand for long stay street parking.

Let's hope that when CEC do finally address the parking crisis, they look forward and consider the transport revolution that's coming and the change that it will bring to town and facilities planning.
Richard Birchall
Friday 1st February 2019 at 9:00 pm
This is an opportunistic attempt by the developer, Village Heritage, to make money from a site where developments have been rejected numerous times over the last 20 years, not only by Cheshire East Council but also by the Planning Inspectorate.

It's not surprising that the Council has expressed little interest in the proposal. Policy BE3 of the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan seeks to ensure that any development in a Conservation Area preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the area. There is no way that a car park in the middle of the Conservation area could achieve this.
Simon Langdon
Saturday 2nd February 2019 at 1:05 pm
As i see it the Hawthorn Lane proposal should be carefully considered on its merits and not dismissed out of hand purely because it is privately owned Furthermore it is of little value to simply criticise options without putting forward viable alternatives All options in my opinion should be considered if we are to address our towns parking problems
Mark Russell
Tuesday 5th February 2019 at 11:43 am
We all need to get down from our ivory towers here. Just look 2 miles down the road at Alderley Edge. Their parking problem is grid locking the village and costing local businesses lost revenue. It had got so serious every single local councillor was booted out five years ago to be replaced by independents who said they would sort the issue. 5 yrs later I think they have 8 more spaces in the village and a little extension to a car park the previous lot were going to do anyway. Business exists to make money. So if this guy makes a bit for solving our parking problem so what? It’s what’s called being entrepreneurs. What this country is built on! This problem isn’t going away, but if we don’t fix it quick, our town centre will.
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 2:45 am
The following comment has been cut and pasted from

......This land is the back garden of the house that once stood on the site now occupied by the flats "Heald Court".

Mike Cooksey has been trying to develop this back garden for a number of years. Planning applications started off with large houses and eventually down to three eco homes for the elderly. All of which have been rejected due to it being essentially a development in a large back garden and in a conservation area.

This latest scheme is even more ridiculous. The proposal that he will self fund it as some sort of grand gesture to the people of Wilmslow makes me even more wary of his true intentions.....

My response to this comment was. "You took the words right out of my mouth and said it so much more elegantly than I could.
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 2:57 am
#Mark Russell

Is your ivory tower in a conservation area? Is it made from Ivory sourced from th illegal Ivory trade?

Planning laws and guidance are there for a reason. And thankfully this time CEC Planning officers seem to be correctly interpreting them.
Mark Russell
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 5:46 pm
So Stuart. Where are you going to put all these cars?
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 6th February 2019 at 6:30 pm
What a mental idea this is. It is not how can I solve the problem, but how much dosh can I make out of it! Entrance to this land would be via a private brick laid drive way that is for the use of people who live in a block of apartments overlooking this site.
Wildlife that encroach from The Carrs would be decimated, and for residents it would mean even more pollution that already causes a problem because of heavy traffic in the narrow confines of Hawthorn Lane. At rush hour times the traffic is stopped bumper to bumper in a nightly and morning avalanche of tin!!
There is a parking area for flat residents, and it could be envisaged that motorists thinking of saving the heavy fees this council charges, would slip their vehicle on one of the private bays instead of entering the proposed area. Its just a mad money grabbing scheme.
Finally I would just like to state that although I share the same name as Cooksey, I am very pleased to say he is of no relation to me.
Carol Shawcross
Thursday 7th February 2019 at 6:43 pm
My real fear is that whatever and wherever the new car parks are ‘eventually’ located the commuters will not use them for “all day parking” due to the cost! Thus we will be left with the same problem and empty car parks!
Pete Taylor
Friday 8th February 2019 at 12:39 pm
@Carol: you have identified the elephant in the room!

Unless every street in the town has restrictions, who is going to willingly pay to park?
Julie Dawn Potts
Friday 8th February 2019 at 6:45 pm
My views are that Emerson who currently take up most of the parking spaces in the Water Lane car park (making it impossible to park and go to the shops) and other all and part day business workers who don’t have on site parking should be made to park out of town on some designated parking land near Manchester Airport and bused in like a park and ride system so to free up all the town parking spaces for shoppers and visitors to the town! Other than that underground parking rather than another unsightly car park building!
Tim George
Friday 8th February 2019 at 8:11 pm
And as if by magic the council announce 70% increases in long stay car parking unbelievable. They all probably have their nice little free parking slots and don’t have to manage their way into wilmslow everyday.
Manuel Golding
Saturday 9th February 2019 at 4:52 pm
Mike Cooksey us to be applauded for his contribution to relieve the smothering of Wlms residential roads by uncaring, even rude & aggressive, all day out of town commuter parkers . Nick Jones is right to draw attention to planners wilfully casting aside the town's numerous green belt sites, so those who are now pouring cold water on Mr.Cooksey's attempt to solve the issue claiming green belt etc as a reason will receive little sympathy from a wide slew of residents,especially when so many of the town's householders cannot access or egress their own driveways, pavements & roads.
Residents of Wilmslow has also identified two sites just out of the town BUT when we attempted to discuss this with the Council Leader, she simply did not wish to talk about it. We think a cost of approx £1 million would provide one upper floor at Broadway Meadow, can be paid for in just over 3 years (depending on ticket price for long stay) in effect it becomes self funding for CEC BUT it must make on street parking both restrictive & heavily enforced with punitive "fines"
Adam Bower
Tuesday 12th February 2019 at 10:44 pm
It's a Conservation Area for a reason - it needs conserving! Far too much of Wilmslow has been chewed up through 1990's development which has allowed the town to lose the architectural haphazard appeal that it once possessed. This is why it's vacant - it lacks soul. Consider other towns such as Knutsford that have managed to retain their history and they succeed. Providing 80 car parking spaces that are not central to shops is pointless. The council needs to re-landscape the wide verges in the centre of the town which would provide many more spaces than a privately owned profiteering carpark in an area that still rings true to what Wilmslow used to look like. It's such a short sited article and I really cannot fathom why there isn't a single person within the council that cannot see what needs to be done - it's common sense!
Oliver Romain
Friday 22nd February 2019 at 7:18 am
This is just a ruse for the ultimate use of the site for development. First get planning for car park, then it’s easier to get planning for housing. There is no ‘access road’ it’s a private driveway.
The chair of WTC should look at the history of this site’s many failed planning applications and large scale opposition from residents before signalling he is in favour of this ludicrous idea. It’s a conservation area and any plans that are approved will set a precedent for the development of rear gardens throughout the conservation area.
If he ever got planning permission it would mean the tarmac goes down, nobody uses the car park then the car park is deemed unviable and the solution is to build apartments.
Most of us are not daft enough to fall for this...