Plans for new business park on former Green Belt approved

Outlines plans have been approved for an office development at a new business park located on land to the west of the A34 Bypass.

The site for the new 'Wilmslow Business Park', which is currently agriculture land, lies south of Wilmslow High School and north of The Royal London site.

The site forms around half of the wider Wilmslow Business Park, the southern half of the D-shaped area of land covering an area of approximately 4ha, which was removed from the Green Belt in 2017 and has been allocated for employment use in Cheshire East Local Plan.

The northern part of the site will remain as existing which is fields and is unaffected by the proposed development, however design features have been incorporated in to the Illustrative Masterplan to enable the northern part to be developed in the future.

The initial plans are for the erection of up to 17,162m2 of office floorspace across 8 units, which are a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 storey buildings, and ancillary amenity space along with 572 car parking spaces and a cycle hub.

Access to the site will be via a new junction from the north bound carriageway on the A34 bypass, which was was granted planning permission in October 2017.

The Illustrative Masterplan shows a potential 'campus-style' development surrounded by green spaces and cycle routes. The buildings are expected to be highly glazed, though the layout and appearance of the buildings will be subject to tenants' individual requirements and further planning applications.

Speaking at the Strategic Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, 26th August, Cllr David Jefferay said "In some ways this is the same as the Royal London application we considered last year. My view on that one was that Wilmslow doesn't need it and it's likely to be damaging to the town by drawing office space away from the town centre but I was advised at that meeting that that wasn't a material planning condition so I won't pursue that one.

"This application has got a couple of advantages over the Royal London one in that they've met the allocation for parking standards on the site rather than a massive over excess so it will be less attractive for drawing businesses away from the town centre so I'm quite happy with that. The other advantage it that the entrance is off the bypass so it is less likely to encourage traffic to go through the town centre, I like that.

"So on balance I don't think the town needs it but I actually really like the scheme that the architect came up with, the indicative scheme, and at the pre-application meeting the architect speaking was really quite inspiring. I've got good confidence, if they're still involved, it's going to be a really nice high quality scheme.

"I suspect I'll have more to say at received matters as there's environmental effects and floodwater but I'll be going with the officer's recommendation so I'll be happy to second this."

Cllr Patrick Redstone added "I also feel positive about this development. It does seem well thought out and well designed and provided we put in the flexibility of alternative uses within B1 I think it's probably sustainable as I don't think either that this will be built as offices.

"I think the day of the day of office parks has probably gone. I would also support this provided the issues regarding ecology can be sorted out."

All members of the committee present at the meeting voted for the outline plans so the application was approved unanimously.

Detailed matters relating to layout, scale, appearance and landscaping are reserved for future approval.

The plans, submitted on behalf of A & HD Wain, can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 19/4759M.

Planning Applications, Wilmslow Business Park


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

David Jefferay
Friday 28th August 2020 at 10:23 am
Hi folks, I probably need to clarify the situation about the business park. I am a Cheshire East councillor and I sit on the planning committee that decided on this application yesterday.
The land was taken out of the green belt as part of the local plan process in 2017. We (Residents of Wilmslow) and other groups and individuals fought that for many years but unfortunately that battle was lost and it has been allocated for commercial use. The evidence generated at that time indicated that office space would be needed in the future. Again, those of us who live and know Wilmslow disputed the evidence based on the masses of empty space we already have but the government's planning inspector who made the decision came to the conclusion that the evidence was sound.
Against that background, it is no longer green belt and the owners are free to apply for planning permission for commercial use whether or not Wilmslow needs it. If they want to build something that they won't be able to let out, it is upto them. The lack of need is no longer a ground for refusal because the need was demonstrated by the local plan.
Consequently, for those of us sitting on the planning committee yesterday, it was very difficult to find a valid reason for refusal, and trust me, I did my best to find reasons. It is easy to say that the council should have refused it and, yes, i could have voted against and, if the other members had done likewise, it would have been refused. However, it would then definitely have gone to appeal and the decision would certainly have been overturned. It is a case of our hands being tied by decisions made years ago.
I would hope that the owners also come to the conclusion that there is no point building it out in the new world and that they have only gone for the permission to lock it in before the next local plan to avoid it being put back into green belt (changes to green belt can only be done as part of the local plan process- green belt boundaries cannot be changed on a whim). If so, we may still have that green space for some years.
What really is worrying me is that the government has announced changes to rules which mean the "office" classification that this land was given has now been lumped together with all sorts of other commercial businesses. Consequently, there is a risk that developers could apply to use the land for a different use in the same category. A condition was added to the approval yesterday to try to give the council some control over that but nobody really knows how the new rules set by government are going to work.
Hope that's useful
Julian Barlow
Friday 28th August 2020 at 1:20 pm
Just this week, whilst driving through Wilmslow I happened to spot, wedged betwixt two beautiful areas of reinforced concrete, a patch of hideous green vegetation. Upon this area grazed a ghastly collective of woolly backed quadrupeds the like of which I've never seen before. Periodically, as if to warn me away, they emitted a blood curdling "baaaaaaa".

Terrified and fearing for my life, I ran to CEC headquarters where my concerns were noted and plans were made to immediately bulldoze the area and replace it with more reinforced concrete.

Never let it be said that CEC don't listen to ewe.
Vince Chadwick
Friday 28th August 2020 at 3:20 pm
More offices just when many have discovered during lock down that working from home has many advantages for employer and employee?

And one wonders if this the thin end of the wedge for development all along the Wilmslow, then the Alderley, bypasses? First build the road, then in-fill with development?
Pete Taylor
Friday 28th August 2020 at 3:59 pm
Royal London have been advertising office space for rent for a least the 22 years I've lived in Fulshaw. Evidently they never managed to fill them. As they are reportedly moving out of their (part-vacant) site they now have a new "Offices available to Let" sign, offering spaces from 1000 Sq Ft to 1000000 Sq Ft. As they could not let the existing offices, perhaps they will not be able to find takers for these either?
On top of this empty-office empire, they have planning applications in to build even MORE empty offices on their "campus".

Is it me?
Jon Newell
Friday 28th August 2020 at 4:59 pm
David Jefferay’s comments are well made.
I know David and his long standing commitment to Wilmslow and its residents.
David is a committed County Councillor and former Town Councillor.
I know and share David’s frustration that the views of local residents - which are much more in tune with the current climate in which we now find ourselves - are incapable of being acted upon because of National Policies put in place by National Govt over the last 3/4 years and were based on data collected in 2012/4.
We are forced to make decisions on policies based on outdated data which even those making the decisions know is wrong.
It is a stupid place in which we find ourselves and the current Conservative Govt seem determined to make things worse.
In the interests of balance, I should say the current Labour front bench have nothing to offer and it is quite difficult to figure out any Lib Dem policies.
A space for a new political grouping.
Mark Russell
Friday 28th August 2020 at 6:39 pm
Why would a developer spend all this money to build buildings they can not sell or rent? So there must be a market even in these Covid times. At a time when town centres/bars/shops etc need every penny from office workers , this is welcome news. We now live in a different world to last year where 5 million unemployed may not be too far off. Anything that drives jobs has to be welcomed. If we lose a bit of land that wasn’t used then so be it. Bear in mind every house built in Alderley edge and Wilmslow is built on what was once a field.
Pete Taylor
Friday 28th August 2020 at 9:46 pm
@ Mark Russell; how much money have they spent, on buildings they have not built?
Roger Bagguley
Saturday 29th August 2020 at 9:57 am
Mark makes a valid point when expressing concern for town centre retail. However, is it likely office workers on the wrong side of the railway line will walk in to Wilmslow to buy a sandwich and coffee? I see it differently: Any offices built here will suck the current lunchtime economy out of the town.

Very worrying too is that proposed new building regulations favour developers at the very time when the government needs to bring them under better control. Being within a designated growth zone we in Wilmslow can look forward to more land being given over to development and to our estates being blighted by box extensions added to houses, sideways, backwards and upwards in the name of permitted development.
Mark Russell
Saturday 29th August 2020 at 11:06 am
What are you on about Pete? There is an obvious investment cost to build anything. No sane person would spend a lot of money without some idea it’s going to be recouped.
Manuel Golding
Monday 31st August 2020 at 5:07 pm
Mark, you are confused by the words "investment" & " build". The former doesn't relate to profits in the current & foreseeable future financial climate, any office or commercial development is a guarantee for financial ruin, Everyday we hear of yet more commercial organisations, offices, retail et al, withdrawing from the commercial world and looking to conserve what shrinking resources they still have.
The golden days of commercially cavalier developments is over, unless would-be developers wish to build empty eyesores to blight local communities and to totally destroy their own financial strengths. Those mad days of "build and be damned" are long over.
One good thing, Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) who fought long & hard to protect this town, has at long last been rewarded by the present economic climate but our fight still goes on against myopic developers and their agents.By the way, developing this site will not help the local community in any way, that salvation is up to the current business' employees & employers, not to some mythical fairy godmother future development that may or may not happen.
"Profit, profit" was the developers' mantra, now we are in another reality age.
Simon Rodrigues
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 at 5:50 pm
Thanks for trying in this circumstance it is what it is. Just hopefully empty offices will still incorporate business rates and not then split to make it non rateable if that makes sense
Andrew Backhouse
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 at 7:42 pm
A cycle hub without a bike lane along the A34? Or are they helping fund the Cycle Wilmslow ideas and we don't yet know about in some other way? Cutting cars would be helpful if they did more to improve the access to the site from the station too - there is a climate emergency.....
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 at 9:31 pm
When the Congleton by pass is finished, expect a much larger flow, than the pre Virus time, at the morning and evening rush hours . For those going north on the A34 in the mornings, I have seen queues of traffic from Swettenham church to Monk's Heath, static.
This plus Congleton bypass, we will no doubt see the planner's outlook. So much for planning in many instances of late.
Peter Davenport.
John Stewart
Thursday 3rd September 2020 at 12:30 pm
As with many of these applications there is a depressing sense of disconnect with the local population. Firstly, survey results, as well as the existing commercial market, suggests that there is not at present significant demand - except perhaps as an overflow area driven by proximity to the airport.Even the Councillors sound resigned to the application rather than excited. Secondly, it is a generic scheme - just look around Warrington etc : office blocks with parking areas attached and a nominal and random sprinkling of trees.How can a person 'really like a scheme' that is illustrative, sketchy in detail and predictable?
There is no attempt to offer clever, imaginative design.Design that could create demand by the sort of prestige businesses that would benefit the area more. Hi tech, research, design. Instead, this scheme appears to present an unhealthy and unquestioning link between Council and developer. Wilmslow and the surrounding areas are of high commercial value with price premiums.That value should be reflected in the expected building quality. Environmentally, such layouts as the one proposed, have changed little since the 70's. People will drive to work and away at tea time.Great for call centres. But, the location becomes irrelevant. Is that the level to which we aim?
There is little offered that hints at something more creative: greater use of planting in, around and within the structures would aid evironmental and visual issues, as well as greening the office experience. Car parking could be part integrated within structures using green roofs and terraces for the employees. This would break the visual blocklike structures to those around. Serious links to Wilmslow could be provided so that the development becomes an integral Wilmslow scheme ie part of the community.
Perhaps the reality is that the Council is without power or control.