Controversial Cheshire village housing scheme set for go-ahead despite 'strong concerns'

-Credit: (Image: North Knutsford Community Group)
-Credit: (Image: North Knutsford Community Group)

Controversial plans for a ‘village’ development of up to 275 homes at Knutsford have been recommended for approval. The original scheme proposed for the Tatton Bluebell Village on land off Manchester Road was approved in 2019 by Cheshire East’s strategic planning board (SPB).

But the legal agreement was never fully agreed so the application did not get final approval and no decision notice was issued. Next Wednesday (May 29) councillors will consider a revised outline application for up to 275 residential units – of which no more than 250 can be ‘class 3’ houses/homes and a maximum of 50 could be ‘class 2’ care home units.

The latest proposal also includes a local centre which will provide for small retail, café, professional services, takeaways as well as a larger medical/dental facility. The scheme would also include 30 per cent affordable housing.

READ: Cheshire town outraged as controversial housing village scheme is revived Residents are demanding to know why the scheme is being considered by Cheshire East Council despite being five years since the plans were submitted

READ: 'Horror' as plans for Cheshire village housing scheme are back on the cards Tatton Estate’s Bluebell Village was first discussed in 2018

The main changes between the application considered by the SPB in 2019 and the latest proposal include:

  • reduction in site area – omitting the sports clubs and adjacent paddock to the south of the site;

  • removal of the previously sought hotel and public house – these two elements were not supported by the SPB in 2019;

  • proposed financial contribution towards sport/outdoor recreation in lieu of on-site provision previously proposed;

  • further footpath and cycle connectivity;

  • more on-site public open space provision;

  • re-location of proposed ‘local centre’ – closer to Manchester Road

  • proposed voluntary contributions/provisions towards a Toucan crossing on Manchester Road and towards traffic regulation orders to reduce speed limits on parts of Manchester Road and Mereheath Lane.

A report from the council’s planning officer to next week’s meeting states: "It is deemed that the provision of the local centre would provide appropriate retail provision to meet local needs, subject to controls, and cumulatively, would provide a community facility, as would the medical/dentist facility. Any C2 care home that may come forward would contribute to the mix of housing types, sizes and tenures."

As the application is only for outline permission, no details of house types, design and layout have been submitted. These will be considered by the council at the later reserved matters stage.

Knutsford Town Council has objected to the application on a number of grounds including it represents overdevelopment of site and, councillors say, the proposals should be restricted to 250 residential units, inclusive of the proposed care home. These objections were made at the end of 2022 and the town council has not made any later comments, the report says.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has ‘strong concerns’ regarding the proposals. These include the impact of the development on the local landscape character and quality of the area.

Sixty residents objected during the latest consultation round, which took place in March and April this year. Among their arguments were claims the proposed development is not in line with the intended allocation of the site in the local plan; the plans are vague; and there is no need for the additional housing.

They also said the local infrastructure needs to be improved before Knutsford can take any more houses. Planning officers have recommended the scheme be approved subject to a S106 agreement to secure contributions towards off-site highway improvement works, health, education, allotments, sport, and on-site open space, its management and affordable housing.

The strategic planning board meeting takes place at 10am at Macclesfield Town Hall on Wednesday, May 29.

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