Handforth Garden Village development moves a step closer

Handforth Garden Village map

The development of a garden village at Handforth has moved a step closer.

The garden village will include 1,500 new homes, up to 12 hectares (30 acres) of employment land, a new local centre, a new school and extensive open space.

The council is the lead developer for the scheme and the delivery strategy and programme for the project were approved by cabinet in September 2018. Around 70 per cent of the land allocated for the garden village is owned by the council, while the remaining 30 per cent is owned by third parties.

To bring forward the site's development, the council needs to ensure there are sufficient rights of access and for delivery of utility services across the council land and that third-party rights, such as rights of access, do not impede development.

Today, Cheshire East Council's cabinet gave the green light for its officers to seek to legally resolve any outstanding legal rights issues, so the scheme can proceed unhindered.

Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: "This is an exciting scheme to deliver much-needed housing and jobs in the north of the borough – and we need to be able to move forwards without hindrance due to any outstanding rights issues.

"Most of the beneficiaries of the existing rights are in dialogue with the council regarding the delivery of the garden village scheme. A key element of the council's delivery strategy is to ensure that all parcels of development land have the necessary rights for access and utilities/services.

"As such, where the exercise of an existing right conflicts with the development proposals for the garden village, the council is committed to either modifying that right or to replacing it with a new alternative right. Where appropriate, compensation will be paid for any loss of rights – but we expect this to be only a small cost to the council."

The garden village scheme would also create more than 300 construction jobs and 470 supply chain jobs during the delivery phase. It is estimated that the scheme will also deliver a further 600 jobs directly and 150 supply chain jobs due to the new commercial and community uses created and the increased expenditure in the local area.

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council with responsibility for transport and strategic infrastructure, said: "I am determined that the garden village will have cycling and walking routes and that the final scheme will also be supported by a park-and-ride facility as well as a new bus route providing connectivity with Handforth railway station and the nearby town of Wilmslow.

"Our world-leading bioscience hub at Alderley Park will create significant employment and economic growth opportunities over the next few years and I am keen to make sure that as many of those opportunities as possible are taken up by people living within Cheshire East. For this reason, multi-modal connectivity between the proposed development site and the bioscience hub will be essential."

The garden village is a site of around 120 hectares (300 acres) allocated as a strategic site in the council's adopted Local Plan Strategy with a submitted planning application to be considered later in the year.



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

Pete Taylor
Tuesday 7th July 2020 at 11:52 pm
It is not a garden. It is not a village. this destruction of Green Belt was foist upon us residents by the previous Conservative administration. Unfortunately the current independent administration seem to be rather slow to apply the existing legislation to stop this travesty of what the people want.
Richard Armstead
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 8:01 am
The urbanisation of what was until recently Green Belt land, previously designated for recreation and leisure, runs countercurrent to protecting the environment and improving the quality of life for CE residents.

This is just one more step on the road to Handforth being absorbed into the burgeoning Greater Manchester Conurbation. Recent events have illustrated starkly that increasing population density has very little going for it.

One glimmer of hope in all this is the Deputy Leader's aim of expanding multi-modal connectivity in the Handforth-Wilmslow-Alderley Edge corridor. I think this is the last opportunity to provide access to our town centres without increasing car pollution and congestion.

The park and ride concept and reliance on effective public transport alternatives combined with pedestrian and cycle way initiatives has the chance to enhance the quality of our town centres and make them more attractive to visitors and residents alike.

Efforts should be made to concentrate car parking in edge-of-centre and out-of-centre locations rather than attracting cars to the town centres by providing more in-centre car parks. The lands currently designated for car parks should be reserved to extend and improve the public realm for all residents.
Simon Atkins
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 3:58 pm
Well said Pete and Richard.
Julian Barlow
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 5:40 pm
This is a "garden village" in the same way that losing a limb is a weight loss plan. There's little effort from those in a position of influence to protect the very thing that makes our county desirable.

Pretending that a couple of cycle paths are suitable compensation for the destruction of hundreds of acres of open land is pure folly. CEC are already unable to effectively deal with a number of pressing issues affecting the town, adding 1000's more homes will not provide a remedy.

The entire project contradicts the aims of CEC's current leader who called for local action to help tackle "the emergency of climate change".
Chris Wigley
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 6:28 pm
There is nothing to celebrate in removing an open area that separates Greater Manchester from Cheshire.
Jon Williams
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 7:05 pm
Handforth is a suburban town, so it can not be a "garden village"
Robert Collins
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 7:26 pm
This planning decision is an absolute travesty for the local area, and so symptomatic of the car crash planning that has blighted this Country for so long. The likes of Nick Mannion call it an an exciting opportunity - for what? 1500 homes just a mile or so from the Handforth Garden village, resulting in houses carpeting south Manchester and all the extra traffic piling onto our roads; more development, more people, more construction, and so the urban sprawl. This will badly affect all our lives, forget green space and wellbeing, so much championed during lockdown. Look at the site - it's been undeveloped and left to naturalise for decades resulting in a significant wildlife haven with shrubs and orchids and precious birdlife. I hear the CEC want to make a wildlife area on neighbouring farmland, so why not build the houses on grazing land which is already devoid of wildlife - durgh! They just don't get it.
Carol Shawcross
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 7:27 pm
I’m utterly devastated that “green belt” has been magically transformed by CEC into “safeguarded land”, which actually means “building land” - this is an absolute travesty and has happened to this site and other local sites despite massive opposition from the majority of local residents. The consultation process was proven to be biased and corrupt. This has happened right under our noses, the general public are busy working and raising families and have paid a premium to live in this green belt area, before we know it we will be living in a built-up over crowded area!
Surely, if nothing else can be done by our independent party to stop this development, then at the very least the 30 acres of employment land should be reconsidered.
I make this comment following the COVID19 crisis as I believe many employers will now make a decision to base many of its employees as homeworkers. This will free up many existing office blocks.
Although, preferably, I sincerely hope that something can be done by the independent councillors to stop the whole development on this “green belt” land!
Brian Tolver
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 8:06 pm
This really is the development that virtually nobody wants. It destroys a massive area of wild land - just go and have a look at it right now, with all the wild life and the wild plants - and it'll just be lots of poorly built, environmentally unfriendly boxes. People will buy them, eventually, and we'll have about 5,000 extra people vying for attention at the Health Centre and the High School and for space on the roads. But what a waste. This could be a fantastic country park, but instead, it's going to be an entry on the planners' spreadsheets, just making up the numbers because Cheshire East in the last administration, were scared of the Planning Inspector and accepted his diktat to push the housing numbers up from 27,000 to 36,000.
David Smith
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 8:14 pm
The only other use for this land is for a Wilmslow Forest of native English trees with a large lake in the middle and recreational areas like flower meadows.
Instead we have brick boxes making no doubt a few interested parties very wealthy.
The A34 bypass is heading for car park status and might as well be a 'park and ride' for Wilmslow the average speed cars will be doing when all these schemes are finished.
There needs to be a simple survey in Cheshire East to gather information on residents.
It wouldn't be difficult.
Every resident should declare their postcode and that of where they work.
Every commercial premise in the area should declare the postcode of the business and that of all of the employees.
Then some sort of evaluation should be possible to create a picture of who lives where and what sort of travel demands they will make on the roads round here.
William McQueen
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 8:42 pm
We’re chronically short of housing in the borough. I saw the plans a while back and thought that turning this largely derelict land, between two busy roads, was thoughtful and welcome to the local plan and local businesses. There’s a lot of negativity around losing “green belt”. In fact this is a largely unkempt, out of the way parcel of land. I for one see no reason not to be practical about revitalising it in the interest of all of us living here.
Carol Shawcross
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 8:44 pm
Ps: does anybody know who changed the definition of “green belt”? “Green belt” used to mean that building would never be allowed!
David Jefferay
Thursday 9th July 2020 at 4:26 pm
I understand the sentiments expressed in the comments above and I would like to point out that those sentiments are shared by the Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) Councillors and other Independent Councillors that form the cabinet. Those who listened to the meeting online (you still can if you wish via the CEC website) will be aware that the way this decision has been reported (and indeed described in the council’s own press release) does not wholly reflect the discussion and vote that took place.
In fact, all independent members present including RoW’s Cllr Toni Fox and Alderley’s Cllr Craig Browne did not support the proposal and, as it was apparent that the vote looked set to be lost, chose to “not vote” in protest.
The Handforth Growth Village was conceived by the previous administration and the site was allocated for development as part of the Local Plan in 2017. RoW and the Independents recognise that local residents in general did not support it.
In light of the potentially wide ranging impacts of Covid and the significant changes to the planning system announced last week by Government, it is possibly even less worthy of support now than it was in 2017. The Independent members at the cabinet meeting tried to argue that point but, unfortunately, their position was not supported by other members of the cabinet.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 9th July 2020 at 8:02 pm
Having now listened to the meeting; I'm somewhat confused by the CEC "Press Release" can the author of that release be named? I have a couple of questions for that person.
Dan Barnes
Sunday 12th July 2020 at 12:35 pm
This is a big opportunity to build affordable housing in the area. There's a housing crisis in this country which hasn't gone away with Coronavirus and when the recession hits then it will be more important than ever.

Unfortunately, a lot of new developments by the big name builders aren't sympathetic to their surroundings and it gives new developments a bad name. I hope this goes ahead and is well planned and developed. There's an opportunity for Cheshire East to build low energy housing and should look at places like Goldsmith Street in Norwich which won a RIBA prize. This will fit in with their carbon neutral plan.

I can see that residents feel this is being imposed on them but the conservative government committed to building 300,000 homes a year and are below that target. People can’t vote them in and expect these houses to be built somewhere else.

If independent councillors aren't supporting this then where will the affordable housing be built ?
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 16th July 2020 at 8:17 am
Yes, Dan, but as we all know. This is Wilmslow. Affordable Housing will not be what eventually does get built. And do you not think that we have taken more than our fair share of the numbers recently ?

Where else should they built ? well I would agree with the Prime Minister in his thoughts that office blocks and shops that will now rapidly become vacant should be converted into residential use. Planning is to be quickly changed, he said, to enable this. What's not to like ?