Ollerton Nursery housing is approved

Despite the long standing protestations of local residents and parish councillors, Cheshire East Planning Committee yesterday voted 9-1 to approve the plans for new housing on the site.

Dating back to 2016 this site had an application for 26 dwellings which was deemed “an inappropriate form of development” and “environmentally unsustainable”. An appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017 was refused for much the same reasons. An application was eventually approved in 2018 for just 10 dwellings.

The parish council listened and read the concerns of the local residents and decided to object on 2 main areas, “infill” and “drainage”

We realised that houses would be built on this site and we wanted those houses to enhance the area and integrate into the parish in a workable and sustainable way, long after the developer has moved on to other projects.

Therefore we tried to prevent the application growing into filling the earlier rejected application’s ambitions by stealth. As a result we requested that conditions were applied that prevented further infill building on open parts of the site, with the removal of permitted development rights and all 106 and open green spaces adhered to by the developer.

This was rejected by the Planning Committee

“[residents’ concerns] are based on fear rather than substance “

Councillor Alift Harewood

Secondly we spoke about the concerns of residents around drainage.

The application didn’t take into account or even mention the surrounding residents’ septic tanks. All the existing surrounding properties drain into the nursery site and there was no consideration at all of this on any drainage strategy documents. We pointed out how devastating this could be to those neighbouring households.

Cheshire East Highways said that “they have concerns regarding the surface water drainage strategy which will need to be resolved prior to any construction” and that the applicant needs to “submit a Land Drainage Consent application with detailed engineering specification”. Neither of which had been done.

United Utilites questioned the applicant’s drainage strategy, stating “No development shall commence until a surface water drainage scheme has been submitted”… indeed, United Utilites pointed out that the developer has simply “provided options rather than a drainage strategy”

These concerns need to be addressed properly, fully and comprehensively before approving this application.

“It appears all that all the concerns about drainage have already been addressed… although I haven’t seen the new drainage proposals”

Councillor Tony Dean

Again these requests were rejected by the Planning Committee and the Planning Officer. Indeed the developer simply stated, without any evidence, that the Parish Council hadn’t got all the facts and these concerns were addressed.

We stressed that residents are understandably concerned that they are going to face future issues around general surface water drainage, as the area of Ollerton Crossroads is notorious for flooding now and more importantly they are concerned at the complete disregard for their needs regarding septic tank drainage.

Finally we pointed out concerns about tree removal and the dangers of the entrance of the site, but again these were largely ignored by councillors on the planning committee.

It was clear that Planning Officer Paul Wakefield was keen to approve the application and councillors seldom override the officer’s recommendation. Disappointingly, it was also clear from questions that many of the councillors on the committee either hadn’t listened to what had been said, hadn’t read the comments from local residents, or weren’t paying attention. Several of them asking questions about details that had been clearly iterated both in the meeting and online.

“You’ll be pleased to know I won’t be saying very much… I invite you to read the parish council’s objections”

Councillor Marc Asquith

Our own Cheshire East councillor Marc Asquith (Conservative – Chelford) had 5 minutes to state the case of locals but instead simply said “You’ll be pleased to know I won’t be saying very much… I invite you to read the parish council’s objections” using just 22 seconds of his 5 minutes.

It is worth pointing out that Councillor Iain Macfarlane (Independent – Wilmslow West and Chorley), uniquely, not only took the time to visit the site, but also clearly had read the comments of residents and indeed reiterated them. However he still voted for the application

Councillor Paul Findlow (Conservative – Prestbury) asked the Planning Officer “I’d suggest that an infill of properties would be likely to be approved” realising that the approval of this application would easily lead to further development. He subsequently was the only councillor to vote against.

Councillor Alift Harewood (Labour – Macclesfield West and Ivy) said the concerns of residents were “based on fear rather than substance” she then eagerly and mistakenly approved the application long before being asked by the Chair for her vote.

The list councillors who voted against is;

Councillors Liz Brathwaite and Brendon Murphy lost their internet connections so had to abstain.

You can watch the proceedings here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GSGkPyXx4I

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