Plans to build townhouse on site of 'multiple burials' are refused

-Credit: (Image: Google)
-Credit: (Image: Google)

Plans to knock down a 200-year-old Sunday school and build homes over a former burial ground have been refused.

The eight three-bedroom townhouses proposed for the former United Reformed Church site on Townley Street, Macclesfield, were said to be an ‘unsympathetic, contemporary, modern design’ in a conservation area.

Cheshire East Council also listed ‘poor quality, cramped living environment’ and insufficient information with the application as grounds for turning down the plans.

The proposals, from John Womby, were similar to a scheme approved in 2019 – which itself divided opinion – and this permission had lapsed.

So a new application was submitted and again there were dissenting voices.

Five letters of objection raised concerns over the design, flooding and the loss of an historic building.

One said: “As much as I understand the need to develop and create new housing, building what are almost certainly going to be high-cost homes whilst ripping down a historical building is not the way.”

But another resident said that if the Sunday school was not going to be restored then redevelopment would at least help decrease anti-social behaviour at the site.

The Sunday school was built between 1802-03 and land to the front was used as a burial ground for the Townley Street Chapel from 1817 to 1865.

But there are no gravestones present and the site is not consecrated.

The site, in Park Green Conservation area and on the corner of Charlotte Street, was marketed for sale from 2010 – when it became vacant – with no takers.

Developers have previously looked at refurbishing the building but decided too much work was needed and demolition was the only viable option.

A statement submitted with the application from AE Planning Consultants said: “In granting planning permission for the re-development of the site in June 2019, the council accepted that the structural condition of the buildings were such that demolition was necessary and the only appropriate way for the site to be developed.

“The condition of the buildings has continued to deteriorate over the past four years so this situation remains.

“Overall, the proposed development would preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

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