A reality TV star and ex-footballer have lost their appeal against Cheshire East Council's refusal to grant them planning permission to create a conference and wedding venue at their Great Warford home.
Having struggled to sell Warford Hall for the past 4 years, Dawn Ward, star of The Real Housewives of Cheshire, and her husband Ashley Ward applied to change the use of the hall from a private residence with ancillary offices to a dwelling with conference and banquet facilities for up to 130 people.
Great Warford, Little Warford and Nether Alderley parish councils all objected to the application along with over 200 local residents who complained that "Party Warford" was inappropriate in a quiet, rural village and would result in noise disturbance and increased levels of traffic on the narrow country lanes.
Whilst the Planning Officer recommended the controversial plans for approval, because he considered it an appropriate development which was not contrary to Green Belt policies, members of the Northern Planning Committee disagreed and voted against the planning application in July 2016.
They refused the plans on the grounds that the proposed development was an inappropriate development in the Green Belt and the proposed travel plan submitted with the application was not practicable or enforceable.
The Wards, who bought the hall 12 years ago and ran their property construction business 'Bilton Ward Developments' from there until it was hit by the recession, subsequently made an appeal to the Secretary of State on the grounds that the change of use and extensions are appropriate forms of development and would not harm the openness of the Green Belt.
Alternatively, they stated that if the development was found to be an inappropriate development then there are very special circumstances which outweigh any harm to the Green Belt.
The appeal also stated that the Council had taken an inconsistent approach to this site when compared with recent local decisions - such as granting planning permission for function venues at both Colshaw Hall and Merrydale Manor - accepting the same travel plan which was originally put forward for Warford Hall.
However, Inspector Jonathan Clarke, dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt.
He said "I have found that it has not been satisfactorily demonstrated that the proposal would operate without causing substantial harm to the living conditions of occupiers of nearby dwellings. Due to the resultant conflict with relevant national and development plan policy, this harm also carries substantial weight against allowing the appeal.
"Whilst I have identified some other considerations which weigh in support of the proposal, having regard to the points which I have set out earlier these individually carry only limited or moderate weight. Consequently, I find that the other considerations in this case would not, considered cumulatively, clearly outweigh the harm that I have identified. Therefore, the very special circumstances needed to justify the development do not exist. The proposal would also not accord with the development plan as a whole or amount to sustainable development in the terms of the Framework."