Controversial Wilmslow Park development rejected by councillors against advice of planning office

Councillors have gone against the advice of their planning officer by rejecting plans to demolish a detached house and replace it with a development of four new homes within the Wilmslow Park area.

The Northern Planning Committee refused to grant Wilmslow Park (GB) Limited planning permission to demolish Blackford, a 1930s property situated on a 0.462 ha site on Wilmslow Park North, and replace it with 4 two-storey detached dwellings with accommodation in the roof space.

Over 90 individual letters of objection from neighbouring properties were submitted raising concerns over that the development was out of character; would impact on privacy, contrary to the draft neighbourhood plan; overdevelopment and it would affect the views from the Bollin Valley.

Wilmslow Town Council's Planning Committee have recommended refusal of the scheme on the grounds of "overdevelopment of the site in terms of the proposed scale and height and therefore overbearing on neighbouring properties. The proposed development is out of character with the area and contrary to the Wilmslow Three Parks Planning Guidance document. The scale of the proposed loss of trees would also have a detrimental impact on the character of the area".

However, the Planning Officer recommending the application for approval by the Northern Planning Committee stating "The application is considered to address the issues raised in the Inspectors decision and crucially the visual relationship to Wilmslow Park North. It is considered to comply with policies SD2, SE1, SE2, SE3 and SE5 of the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy; saved policies NE11, DC3, DC6, DC9, and DC41, of the Macclesfield Local Plan and the overarching umbrella of the Wilmslow Parks SPD and the Cheshire East Borough Design Guide.

"The very minor shortfall in respect of DC38 and the internal spacing within the scheme is acknowledged but a good standard of amenity for existing and future occupiers will be achieved."

After a lengthy debate by the Northern Planning Committee on Wednesday, 14th August, planning permission was refused with a majority of eight, with ten members voting against, one for and one abstention.

Councillor Iain Macfarlane said "Councillor Toni Fox, the Residents of Wilmslow ward councillor, called in the application and made the case that even with fewer dwellings on this plot the development would still be "overly cramped, incongruous, discordant and would be detrimental to the visual amenities & character of the area'. It was pointed out that the percentage of actual building area on the plot would be similar to the previous application.

"Over 90 individual letters of objection from neighbouring properties and the local area were received including one from Esther McVey MP supporting residents. Jon Newell spoke on behalf of Wilmslow Town Council's Planning Committee who recommended refusal on the grounds of overdevelopment of this site in Wilmslow Park in terms of the proposed scale and height and therefore overbearing on neighbouring properties which is contrary to the Wilmslow Three Parks Planning Guidance document."

A previous application for a residential development of six dwellings at this site was not determined and an appeal dismissed in February 2018.

Northern Planning Committee, Planning Applications, Wilmslow Park Road


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

Pete Taylor
Thursday 15th August 2019 at 7:58 am
Well done Councillors!
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 15th August 2019 at 9:04 am
A very good decision.

It is important that the wishes of the people as expressed within the emerging Neighbourhood Plan are being taken into account, immediate neighbours of Blackford too. Very important is the weight given here to the Wilmslow Three Parks Guidance, in particular an understanding that this document is designed to protect the character at specific points within the parks. Thus, the gradual decay of the original design is being halted. I attended the meeting yesterday. Clearly the officer and the one councillor voting to approve did not get this. Hopefully they will next time, when another application within the parks seeks to demolish an original Victorian property within a large garden, replacing it with a cul-de-sac of the design of the day 4 and 5 bedroom houses, totally out of character is posted.
Manuel Golding
Thursday 15th August 2019 at 12:54 pm
At long last the concerns & wishes of the local & neighbour residents are being listened to and in fact are of primary concern.Up to now, all we've had in Wilmslow have been the concerns (i.e. greedy profit motive) of developers/builders & landowners being the primary concern of planning officers & their sycophantic planning board councillors.
With the May election of 4/5ths of Wilmslow's CE councillors now being Residents of Wilmslow councillors we are beginning to see the about-turn in planning approvals, no longer based on developer's etc needs. This is part of what the voters required from RoW councillors. RoW councillors will continue to work with their council colleagues in the Independent Group, allied to the other party,Labour, in joint control of CEC and with their four RoW Wilmslow TC colleagues for the betterment of all residents.
Oliver Romain
Thursday 15th August 2019 at 5:54 pm
Manuel: When the application is successfully appealed we can all pay the costs that will run into thousands for going against the planning officer’s advice.
If you want to frame property developers as an enemy perhaps you should look in your own ranks. Mark Goldsmith is a property developer with four properties in Wilmslow and maybe more elsewhere, Is he greedy too?
Or do most of us live in homes that have been built by developers?
ROW seem to thrive from framing everyone but their own henchmen as enemies. It has petty spiteful political point scoring written all over it. Always talking down to the community and telling residents what is good for them.
Lynne Prescott
Thursday 15th August 2019 at 8:04 pm
Just out of interest, can anyone remember the last time the planning officer actually said no to anything at all?
Oliver Romain
Friday 16th August 2019 at 6:46 am
Plans are rejected by planning officers all the time. Most of the plans we hear about on this website are decided by the planning committee. It would be a dull website if every planning application was subject to a news story.
It’s immoral and cheap of political leaders like Mr Goulding attempt to score political points by vilifying public servants with claims that they serve land owners and developers and ignore residents with no evidence.
If planning applications are rejected with no proper legal grounds they will be appealed and this will cost tens of thousands in legal fees and costs.
Rejecting applications just to score political points will always fail and wastes vast sums of money that could be invested schools or social care.
Robert Kemp
Friday 16th August 2019 at 8:45 am
So are you are in favour of this application Mr Romain?

Setting aside the environmental concerns over the number of trees they wished to devastate and the effrontery of demanding that they cut down trees on Garth Heights land and the fact that the plans as drawn up placed the houses too close to the buildings on the Garth Heights development, you imply that you anticipate this application will be bulldozed through on appeal?

All very well for you - you won't have to live next door to it - neither will you have to put up the the plethora of cars of the parents and children blocking the road or parking on the path because there will be insufficient space to park them on the development.

This is a very good decision and if as you suggest the application will go through on appeal it simply means we will have to Re-galvanise all the previous objectors and encourage more more speak up to help oppose it, in order to preserve the beauty of the surrounding along Wilmslow Park North. There's good advice here for the 90 odd objectors :-
Brian Geddes
Friday 16th August 2019 at 8:48 am
Olivier Romain should read the comments by Peter Yates on behalf of his clients. Not only did the Officer refer to incorrect policies but also did not recognise that the gardens to plots 1 & 2 facing WPN were front not rear gardens.
OR is rightly concerned with costs but how many thousands pa is this Senior Officer being paid to get it so wrong?
Richard Armstead
Saturday 17th August 2019 at 3:49 pm
I am not one to extoll the virtues of CE planning officers but I attended this NPC meeting and I think Mr Dooley gave a detailed and measured presentation. He actually said that although his recommendation was to approve there were factors that indicate any decision would be 'in the balance'.

The councillors considered that the balance was to refuse, in that factors weighed at appeal by the inspector at the first application had still not been satisfied by this resubmission.

In the past a certain CE counsel has attempted to intimidate councillors with the threat of costs should the Council fail at appeal. I would like to think that applications are determined on the correct interpretation of planning policies and not personal opinions or overshadowed by pecuniary considerations.
Oliver Romain
Saturday 17th August 2019 at 4:37 pm
To be clear, I have not supported this application. My concern relates to Mr Goulding’s attacks on public servants and his innuendo. There is simply no need for local political leaders to behave in this way.
Unpalatable as it may seem, it is important to consider that a short term political win today may result in financial costs for taxpayers further down the line.
It may not be inevitable that an appeal goes through but the comments from ROW may just help it on its way.
I don’t make the laws, but I would expect elected officials and their political masters to uphold the law and ensure that money is not squandered on lawyers and legal costs.
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 18th August 2019 at 11:29 pm

Cllr Romain (Lib Dem) is just like our past Conservative councillors and is scared of developers. He clearly wants to approve all their applications in case they win on appeal.

Cllr Romain is actually on the Wilmslow Town Council planning committee but is completely unaware that they also rejected this application. Despite his attempts to backtrack, he clearly said rejecting it was the wrong call. Perhaps he will now ask his fellow planning committee members why they thought otherwise? He can then ask them (and himself) why the committee is even needed because he thinks the planning officers opinion is all that counts.

However, you pay your council tax to ensure we robustly defend against inappropriate development. This means publicly reviewing the thought process of our planning officers. Often planning is a very grey area with contradicting aspects, so a committee approach provides "a wisdom of crowds" to make a balanced judgement. It is not perfect, but it is the best option we have.

Oliver is on the wrong side of this debate though. He is also wrong about the number of properties I own and that I am a property developer. He can't even spell Manuel's surname correctly by copying it from his comment. Oliver's numerous mistakes never stop him from continually attacking me and Residents of Wilmslow though. But his gaff prone comments do show Wilmslow was right to completely reject the Lib Dems as the towns alternative to the Conservatives, who also never fought against inappropriate development.

Only your independent councillors stand up and fight the developers, which is why Toni Fox spoke out against this application and got it turned down on your behalf.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Oliver Romain
Monday 19th August 2019 at 8:36 am
Too close to the truth for Goldsmith so he hits back with fairy tales and personal attack - again.
Mark ROW councillors are NOT independent you are not an independent so stop pretending you are. ROW have attacked independent councillors for being independent so why pretend they are? Also you are clearly a property developer. If not explain to everyone about your multiple properties and what your interest in them are.
You are clearly confused when you and your party are put under scrutiny. It’s not an attack it’s scrutiny. An attack is the kind of personal abuse you and your henchmen use to try to silence scrutiny and dissent. I don’t lower myself to responding to ROW abuse with abuse.
Scrutiny comes part and parcel of local politics.
This fake fight against ‘developers’ fools no one. It’s all about ROW having enemies and now the tories are out of the way it’s developers, council employees and anyone that questions ROW.
Anyone reading these comments will see that I have not backtracked in the slightest. It’s not about one development it’s about an approach of attack, hate and divisive politics.
It was and is wrong of ROW to attack public servants and frame developers as ‘greedy’. Especially when they have at least one developer on the council.
David Smith
Monday 26th August 2019 at 7:10 am
Prestbury has a policy of only allowing a house to be demolished and replaced by ONE other house so why cannot the same planning rule be applied to Wilmslow? It does allow replacement of older knackered properties as well as keeping the character of an area as well as not increasing the strain on facilities like roads and town parking [current hot topic remember?]. You might say it panders to the very rich like footballers. A sort of half way might be to allow 2 houses instead of four. The most obvious plan would be to allow social housing that is much needed for less well-off ‘Wilmslowites’ but that wouldn’t be ‘in character’ and surely strongly be objected by the locals. That really would change the character of the place having people with not as much wealth coming to live next door - wouldn’t it?
Steve Savage
Wednesday 28th August 2019 at 10:30 am
Prestbury doesn't David; please see latest development on Scott road in Prestbury...1 house demolished, 2 built.
Sue Melling
Thursday 29th August 2019 at 9:22 am
It would be a travesty to destroy the woodland around Wilmslow Park. As Wilmslow is now becoming a large town with large new developments being built around the town. Wilmslow Park remains a beautiful place with green space to walk through which many local people enjoy. One it’s gone it’s lost forever.