Royal London given the green light for new office development


Royal London has been granted outline planning permission for a new office development and over 1000 parking spaces at their current campus on Alderley Road.

The group is on track to complete its move from Wilmslow to Alderley Park during 2020, when around 1,200 members of staff will relocate from Royal London House and other buildings on the Wilmslow campus. However, the company says it remains committed to delivering its vision for a 'living campus', creating 'outstanding places to live, work and relax, easily accessible to local residents by foot, cycle and public transport' on the Alderley Road campus.

As part of the masterplan, Royal London submitted an outline planning application for up to 17,000sqm of new office development and up to 1,100 car parking spaces along with the creation of new pedestrian and cycle routes.

On recommending the outline plans for approval the Planning Officer stated "The proposed development is required to ensure a sustainable economic development locally and within Cheshire East.

"No objections have been raised by consultees in relation to technical matters, for the reasons mentioned the application is recommended for approval subject to conditions."

However, Wilmslow Town Council recommend refusal of this application. They stated "Wilmslow Town Council is concerned on a number of levels which should be addressed by any application of this scale on this site. The numbers of vehicles on the site as demonstrated by the application for 1100 additional parking bays would have a significant impact of Alderley Road and the Town Centre in terms of congestion, air pollution levels and road safety and the access to and from the site by car should be directly off the adjacent A34 to mitigate these issues.

"Wilmslow Town Council is concerned that the proposals for the entire strategic site are coming forward piecemeal and is concerned that the plans to link in to existing foul drainage provision may be satisfactory when developments are looked at in isolation but may well not be when considered as a whole.

"The recent history of flooding along Alderley Road would suggest that the Environment Agency Assessment of the flood risk requires revisiting and that the earlier point regarding sewerage capacity could be impacted by more frequent flooding events.

"With regards to the proposed cycle provision the Town Council is concerned that Harefield Drive doesn't have the capacity to accommodate the proposed two-way cycle track.

"The Town Council also noted that the permission granted over 3 years ago was granted by the Cheshire East Council's Northern Planning Committee on the basis of 'very special circumstances put forward by the applicant' and that it was 'the expectation of the Planning Committee at that time that the completed development would be occupied by Royal London'. Clearly the renewal is being requested at a time when these very special circumstances are no longer to be met."

This new application is a renewal of the previously approved outline office application (reference 16/2314M), but with smaller buildings to provide more flexible accommodation, designed to appeal to companies of varying sizes.

Vehicle access to and from the new buildings will continue to be via the existing entrance and exit junctions on Alderley Road.

The site sits to the east of the existing Royal London campus and will accommodate four separate office buildings which are envisaged as being 3 storey office buildings with roof top planting.

This part of the campus will be accessed from a new roundabout, with a new internal road running through the centre of the development from which connections into the car parks are created. Whilst new landscape features such as lakes and ponds could be located near the entry points to enhance the arrival experience at the site.

Royal London were granted planning permission in 2016 for a new office development at their Alderley Road campus. However, in October 2017 - having considered a range of options for the future - the company announced it would be moving out of Wilmslow, from their current site at Alderley Road to Alderley Park.

In March 2018, Royal London were granting planning permission for up to 60 homes on land opposite the Royal London Campus, to the west of Alderley Road, and 120 homes, along with the access roads and landscaping, on the northern part of Royal London campus.

Royal London says no construction work is expected to commence until after they have moved to Alderley Park.

The plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council planning portal by searching for planning reference 19/3420M. 

Planning Applications, Royal London


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

Jon Newell
Monday 24th February 2020 at 11:40 am
Just this weekend, the road immediately outside this proposed development was closed so that an updated flood assessment could be carried out. It looks as though the assessment exercise may have been curtailed because the road flooded - you really can not make this up.

We now have this reported approval which can not have been made on the basis of a current flood assessment. This approval has been made on the basis of a flood assessment that is based on data collected, I believe, over 5 years ago. It certainly is not current. This road has never been subject to flooding historically but has now flooded over 10 times in less than a year. The surface of a car park housing 1100 cars is not likely to help drainage.

Do the relevant departments at CEC not speak to each other? Did no one seek to say "hey, there is a exercise going on to give us much batter data than we currently have - let's wait until they have finished and we might be able to avoid a problem - and a very expensive problem - in the future".
Pete Taylor
Monday 24th February 2020 at 12:37 pm
In addition to the RL "office campus" currently being flooded, yet again, the Agricultural fields across the road, earmarked for 60 houses, is flooded too. Perhaps there was a reason for it being Green Belt?

CEC really does need to call in experts to re-assess whether these are suitable sites for development. The ROC Consulting "Proposed Drainage Strategy" prepared for Royal London in their Planning Application states in several places that there is a risk of flooding to part of the site (this was prepared before the recent dozen floods!).
Peter Capper
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 6:46 am
People like Jon will never be satisfied, happy to moan and whine but never willing to pitch in for the community. Have you ever had to put on a pair of waders and try digging a drainage ditch? Well neither have I but that's not my point, I work for a living I'm a sparky by trade and I know how difficult it can be to get a job right when there are so many rules and regulations. Blaming the car park for this flooding is like blaming the common garden worm for the rise in acid attacks in London, I think i'm qualified enough to say this flooding isn't caused by the car park it's caused by climate change, if we're unable to cut green house emissions then we must do the next best thing, boring multiple holes in the fields so the water will flow back into the ground. If Mr Newell and Mr Taylor are so sincere in their concern then please try ditching the Chelsea tractors and try cycling to help save our town. If you'd like to know more about climate change and how we can help I'm usually in the Kings Arms at 2pm, happy to talk if you're willing to listen.
Jon Williams
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 9:37 am
"Environment Agency chief: Avoid building new homes on flood plains"
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 10:20 am
Peter Capper:

I get where you are coming from but to my knowledge neither Jon Newell or Pete Taylor own a "Chelsea Tractor." Jon is a local councillor who walks everywhere working hard for Wilmslow and Pete brings local knowledge to the flooding problems that have increased in frequency in recent times. For me both make valid points. Global warming has been happening for years. The problems caused will increase. Thus, it is vital all new developments come with infrastructure based upon, not just current data, but upon extrapolations of the data.

The Enviromental Agency assessment of flooding risk for the proposed Royal London developments is totally out of date and this needs to be addressed before any approval is given.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 1:44 pm
@ Roger Bagguley,

I would agree with most of the above but before jumping to the "Climate Change" conclusion I would suggest a look at the drainage plan in the area.

Since the bypass was opened the flooding in the vicinity of Whitehall Bridge has increased. It's generally a low-lying area of brooks, ponds and marshland and the considerable displacement of large amounts of water through the creation of the road (as well as earlier development of the Royal London complex) will have done nothing to improve the problem.

Its difficult to have confidence in the Civil Engineers responsible for planning the Wilmslow / AE bypass when there is such stark evidence to show that they got their drainage schemes very badly wrong.

Further development of the RL site and the proposed housing scheme on the agricultural land facing it to the West of Alderley Road is foolhardy in the extreme, at least until a proper evaluation and risk assessment is carried out.
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 3:31 pm
Seen plenty of stories like this before only usually with Pete's mob at the helm!!! Dishonest from the start.
Peter Capper. Flooding is caused by rain and has been since Noah was around and how will ditching our cars save our town with 1100 hundred new ones arriving and leaving every evening? In the rub-a-dub by 2? Not busy then with all those regulations?
John Duckworth
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 7:58 pm
Of the existing people working on site are their sufficient parking spaces for them now if not then parking spaces should be provided before anything else is considered.

Let's keep it simple unless sufficient parking can be provided on-site not just the Royal London but also other businesses then planning permission should not be given now or in the future.

Should Royal London be unable to achieve this on site, then they should fund such parking facilities elsewhere. It's their problem and up to them to sort out.

Flooding is an issue, this is nothing to do with climate change - its caused by too many buildings being added on existing sites.
Peter Capper
Thursday 27th February 2020 at 7:07 am
Simon Worthington how dare you talk to a working man like that, this isn't the 1950s anymore, your forefathers may have spoken to the help like that but you wont to me. I'm a free man of the land, a skilled tradesman with 40 years under my belt, I'm not some wet behind the ears jumped up little white shirt like yourself.

You're right on one thing, flooding is caused by the rain, which just so happens to be increasingly getting worse due to predicted changes in something called the "climate", this is also known as "climate change", something Google should be able to clarify for you but I’m sure you won’t check so allow me to fill you in - climate change is scientifically proven to be caused by inconsiderate ignorant folk like yourself who care more for their local Waitrose than they do for their community. These same folk will fire hell and fury at Royal London for something they're not responsible for (search "What causes rain") but will quite happily drive their poisonous smog pumping Range Rovers to pick up precious little Tarquin so he doesn't have to walk 1/2 a mile home. They'll then be the first people to have their minds blown that there is more traffic, road deterioration and increased weather extremities.

As the chairman of the Wilmslow Workers Federation my suggestion for you is to take responsibility for your actions. Try cycling more, plant some more trees (they’ll soak up the water), bore several large holes in your garden, support your local businesses – let Royal London build more car parking – this will allow more jobs and more wealth for the town.

If you'd like to discuss this more I'll be at the Kings Arms on Friday at 2pm, normally by the window with a black polo shirt on. My poison is a Guinness.
Pete Taylor
Friday 28th February 2020 at 1:34 pm
Leaving flooding for a moment and going back to the point of this piece.

Royal London have been advertising empty office space for rent continuously for over twenty years on this site; they never seem to be able to fill all their space.
So now they want to speculatively build more offices for rent... who do they think will want these, if they can't fill the ones they already have?

Add to that the fact that they are moving their entire operation out, so all their own offices will be up for rent too. How does this make any sense at all?

I don't suppose that after a period of having an empty industrial estate they will apply to turn it all into housing will they?
David Nelson
Friday 28th February 2020 at 4:48 pm
Totally agree with Alan Brough.