Dispute over access heading to High Court

Over 120 objections have been made to plans for an access road and emergency access road to serve a residential development of 175 homes in Handforth.

However, the developers say they are prepared to withdraw the planning application provided that Cheshire East Council withdraw from the current High Court proceedings and cooperate in establishing access via the A34 as intended and approved.

Local residents, a nearby primary school and church as well as Handforth Parish Council are all concerned that the new roads, which Jones Homes are seeking planning permission to build on land off Hall Road, will result in a significant increase in traffic which will bring risks to local residents and create 'a rat-run'.

Handforth Parish Council strongly recommends refusal stating "There are already 95 objections recorded on the CE Planning portal from various residents. Noted that there is both a church and a school on Hall Road, both have submitted planning objections on the basis of increasing the highway capacity which could be dangerous to their parishioner's and children respectively."

St Benedict's School in Handforth is campaigning against the plans which they fear would vastly increase traffic flow past their school and put the safety of pupils at risk.

Headteacher Hannah McGuire said, "Hall Road currently connects 174 homes with Station Road in Handforth, and at certain times of the day is already dangerously busy with parents picking up and dropping off pupils. The single lane already makes it difficult for large volumes of traffic.

"We are deeply concerned about the prospect of the new road, as are children, parents, staff and many residents of Handforth. People are concerned that Hall Road will become a rat-run for people from Handforth accessing the A34, the volume of traffic will increase dramatically and we have serious concerns for the safety of our pupils."

Mrs McGuire added "We urge the planners to put the children and the local residents ahead of the developer's profits."

Mark Royle of Jones Homes said "We believe that there is misunderstanding around the reason for the application and its parameters and have sympathy with the school and residents who have expressed concern and therefore hope that the need for this access can be avoided by parties working together."

He added "The application is for an alternative access into the planning approved residential site and not to link through to the A34. The very reason for this application is that Cheshire East Council, despite granting planning permission in 2016 to access the site from the A34 via Jamie Webb Drive/Coppice Way, have for 2 years prevented and frustrated The Group from utilising this access even though we have already built Jamie Webb Drive for this purpose." (Please see full statement below).

Plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council planning portal by searching for planning reference 20/4197M.

HALL ROAD – JONES HOMES STATEMENT – WITHOUT PREJUDICE

We believe that there is misunderstanding around the reason for the application and its parameters and have sympathy with the school and residents who have expressed concern and therefore hope that the need for this access can be avoided by parties working together. Jones Homes and the Trust that own the Planning Approved residential land for which this alternative access is sought, are prepared to withdraw the Planning Application provided that Cheshire East Council withdraw from the current High Court proceedings and cooperate in establishing access via the A34 as intended and approved.

The application is for an alternative access into the planning approved residential site and not to link through to the A34. The very reason for this application is that Cheshire East Council, despite granting planning permission in 2016 to access the site from the A34 via Jamie Webb Drive/Coppice Way, have for 2 years prevented and frustrated The Group from utilising this access even though we have already built Jamie Webb Drive for this purpose and which is currently being used as an agricultural access in the same location as has been technically approved by the Council.

Cheshire East Council inherited a track from Macclesfield Borough Council following a transfer from the MOD who acquired it and other land of the former 61MU from the owners, Wadsworth Trustees, in 1959, with the Trustees retaining ownership of the land on either side of the track. This conveyance contained the rights to pass 'over and along' the track for the benefit of the adjoining land which includes the approved housing development, however The Council are denying access and say that there is a consideration to be paid to cross over the track and further although pressed are not willing to say what they believe to be the quantum, nor despite numerous requests, will they meet as either Officers, respective solicitors or barristers. There is a clear, unambiguous and unrestricted right to cross the track in respect of which no payment is due. The Council have avoided all reasonable approaches to resolve this matter and have commenced High Court legal proceedings for an injunction against use of the track to serve the development, which will be vigorously defended.

The Council had even positioned huge vertical logs along the hedge line to block access of any type. When informed that they were trespassing on the Trust's land, they proceeded to reposition the logs and place on the track to prevent access (photographs available). This situation appears absurd, given the site has planning permission for 175 dwellings including access across the track and is a committed residential site in the Councils own Local Plan Strategy, delivering 53 much needed affordable homes. Permission dated 11th April 2016 ref. No. 13/0735M.

We don't know but presume that Council Leaders, Cabinet and Officials are aware of these matters, however no approaches have been received in an effort to resolve. It is unclear as to whether the position taken is in any way related to the Handforth Growth Village project being developed by the Council as landowners.

If we could start on site then Jones Homes are also committed to a Section 106 (signed under seal) with contributions approaching £2m, including the cost of affordable housing provision. This includes over £720,000 for education, from which we have requested assistance for St Benedict's Primary School, but have been told the money has already been committed elsewhere without reference or consultation. We and other developers have made considerable S106 contributions to the Council for which there seems to be little or no consultation with developers/rate payers or public information as where it is spent.
With the current economic and health situation, the Council's stance is not just preventing job creation, but is accelerating job losses and reducing much needed investment. The 2 years lost and continued delaying tactics of The Council have caused considerable disruption to the company's building plans and due to pressures from other areas, substantial losses, resulting in having to seek a suitable alternative access. We would much prefer to use the planning approved route of Jamie Webb Drive/Coppice Way, but due to The Council's actions this is not currently possible.

We would however be happy to withdraw the Application should the Council cooperate in establishing the access via the A34 as intended by the original Planning Permission. We wish for this matter to be amicably resolved, but this is in the Council's hands.

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Comments

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

Stuart Gatley
Friday 30th October 2020 at 10:03 am
This article provides more context than the application and all discussions I have had with Council employees, so thank you!

It seems Jones Homes need access via Hall Road to prevent paying consideration for connecting to the bypass.

If the application is approved, everyone will be worse off, particularly the local community. It would bring further disruption since the council would need to remodel and widen Hall Road as well as provide allocated parking to bring it upto standard.

Whatever the situation, I believe the best option for both the community and developers would be the access onto the bypass.

Time will tell!
Pete Taylor
Friday 30th October 2020 at 10:41 am
Who is "the Trust" that owned the land?
Colin Tuffs
Saturday 31st October 2020 at 10:16 am
I am bemused as to why the council is blocking the James Webb access to the 175 home development. This access from the A34 thro the Care Village has been on the plans from square one and Jones have built the section inside the boundary of the Village although I have wondered about the substantial gateway to the footpath. Whilst foot traffic on the path will cross the access to Sun field there is no more danger than crossing any vehicular road ( probably less ) and a raised section on the footpath area would mitigate this. I cannot recall any objections to the james webb section of road ever being raised in all the discussions pertaining to the Village now under construction despite a Government Inspector advising against it receiving Planning permission.
to Pete Taylor - the trust is the Wadsworth Trust, original owners of this area. details can be obtained from your local councillor

Resident since 1981
Pete Taylor
Saturday 31st October 2020 at 4:45 pm
Thanks Colin.
Simon Atkins
Thursday 5th November 2020 at 9:22 am
How did they get planning permission to build houses but no access into them?
It looks to me like The Group didn't do their homework or as per most developers build first and then get/beg for retrospective permission later.

This changes nothing in terms of the Hall Road access. The Group promised from the very beginning there would be NO access onto Hall Road and now they have backtracked and are using it as a bargaining chip against CEC.
Lynne Prescott
Thursday 5th November 2020 at 3:39 pm
it would be really useful to get someone from the council chiming in on their side of this issue as on the face of it it seems extremely obstructive of them ( and unlike the cosy relationship Jones Himes generally have with our planning department!)

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