Council approves controversial 'village' housing scheme despite hundreds of objections

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


Controversial plans for a new 275-home ‘village’ development at Knutsford have been approved despite objections from hundreds of residents.

Cheshire East’s strategic planning board (SPB) voted by 10 to one in favour of the outline application for Tatton Bluebell Village.

The proposal from the Tatton Estate is for up to 275 residential units – of which a maximum of 50 could be care home units.

The scheme also includes a local centre with small retail, café, professional services, and takeaways as well as a larger medical/dental facility.

It is the second time the application has come before the SPB.

The original scheme proposed for the land off Manchester Road was approved in 2019 but the legal agreement was never fully agreed.

At yesterday’s (Wednesday) meeting, some objectors called for the application to be deferred, others demanded it be refused, arguing there was insufficient detail.

They also said infrastructure improvements must come before new housing.

The site is allocated in the local plan for 250 homes.

Knutsford town councillor Jamie McCulloch, said the town council believed ‘the proposals constitute overdevelopment of the site and that the suggested upper limit of 250 residential units be applied and any care home provision is within this limit’.

He said only one shop should be provided and he also argued the public space was inadequate, falling short of the 10,000sqm required.

Martin Symes, of the North Knutsford Community Group, said the development is not sustainable, especially when taking into account the hundreds of houses currently being built in the town.

“It’s clear the medical facilities, the roads and the general infrastructure of the town are already inadequate and this application does not improve that,” said Mr Symes.

He added Cheshire East had already exceeded housing targets so the development is not needed.

“Much more consideration must be given, much more investment is required in Knutsford first and more improvements must be made before further development is made in Knutsford,” he said.

Amy Bowden, head of strategic development and placemaking for Tatton Estate, told the committee: “The estate had a clear vision for Bluebell Village to be its flagship, placemaking project, delivering a mixed-use community that is sustainable, well-designed and well-connected.”

She said the scheme would provide approximately £2.7m S106 money and almost £2m in community infrastructure levy (CIL) contributions.

“It is a material consideration that this strategic planning board previously approved this scheme in 2019.

“We have ensured this scheme closely reflects what was previously approved with minor updates to respond to local concerns,” she said.

Cllr Steve Edgar (Haslington, Con) moved the application be approved.

This was seconded by Cllr Hannah Moss (Mobberley, Ind) who said 30 per cent of the homes would be affordable, which she fully supported.

She added: “It is frustrating we can’t have the infrastructure delivered before the development.”

Cllr Garnet Marshall (Middlewich, Ind) voted against the application.

He said: “I’m not convinced with the answers I’ve heard about why we can’t have a playing field on this site.”

Knutsford councillor Stewart Gardiner (Con) who chaired the meeting, also expressed concern the developer was not providing a sports pitch in the development.

Several councillors also had issue about the lack of allotment provision.

In summing up, before going to the vote, Cllr Gardiner said: “If we do not approve this scheme it will go to appeal and, because it’s an allocated site, it will be approved, probably without some of the benefits… so it wouldn’t be in the interests of the people of Knutsford, or the people who are going to live in these houses, for that to be the case.”

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