Residents confirm their preferred sites for new housing developments in Alderley Edge


Questionnaires were recently delivered to every household in Alderley Edge as part of the Neighbourhood Plan process, asking local residents their views on what aspects of living in Alderley Edge are important, where new houses should be built in the village and what type of new housing is needed. The questionnaire also asked for their views on car parking, transportation, local facilities and improvements to the village centre.

Alderley Edge Parish Council delivered 2500 the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire and confirmed that they received 376 completed copies but since the deadline date of Thursday 30th March for returns we have received more, so they now have in the region of 400 copies returned.

The Parish Council has sent the completed questionnaires to Cheshire Community Action for analysis and have been told that they will receive the results around mid May.

Councillor Christine Munro said "The Parish Council felt that outsourcing this work has the benefit of having an independent third party do the analysis, so addressing any concerns that might be raised of bias if we undertook the work ourselves."

She added "We did however ask CCA to give us a faster analysis of Q2.2. This question asked residents to rank a number of different sites in the village in order of their preference for development.

"The assumption behind this is that Alderley Edge will be unable to avoid a requirement under the Local Plan to provide at least 100 new homes over the period to 2030."

Adding up the top scores (scores 4+5) for each site produced the following ranking:

1. Harden Park (228)
2. Hole Farm (157)
3. Land opposite Horseshoe Farm (118)
4. North of Beech Road (101)
5. A34/Tomato Farm (96)
6. A34/Ryleys Farm (89)
7. Multi-property developments within village (64)
8. Infill within village (52)

(Note that the scores for the three sites ranked 4, 5 and 6 are very close).

They got a similar result if they deduct Most Unsuitable scores from Most Favourable scores when the ranking becomes tighter.

In both cases:

  • The favoured sites are Harden Park, Hole Farm and the land opposite Horseshoe farm.
  • The least favoured are development or infill within the village boundaries.
  • In between lie the land north of Beech Road, the land adjacent to the A34/Tomato Farm and the land adjacent to the A34/Tomato Farm.

Christine Munro added "Since we undertook the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire we have established that regrettably we cannot include Harden Park in the sites to meet the 100 home objective, which means that we shall need to include one, or more likely two, of the alternatives.

"The overall figure for Local Service Centres is 3,500 houses, however, this is split between existing permissions (of which Harden Park is included) and new permissions. The target for new permissions is about 1,250 and it is from this latter figure that our allocation of 100 is derived. Harden Park cannot be included in the latter figure as it has already been included in the former."

Neighbourhood Plans allow communities to say what they want their priorities to be over the next 15 years and once completed they have the power of the law. Planning Officers will refer to Neighbourhood Plans when considering planning applications for new developments in and around the village, which means they can have a real and positive impact on the village's future.

The answers from the survey will form an important part of the data being collected for the preparation of the Alderley Edge Neighbourhood Plan, which once complete everyone in the village will be able to vote on through a referendum.

Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plan


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Emma Casson
Wednesday 19th April 2017 at 4:54 pm
What a farce if the site that the majority of people suggest can't be included why even suggest it in the first place and surely if only 400 views have been received it can't really be a fair representation of the villagers views the people who have responded are probably in the main the people who these houses would effect if built.
Craig Browne
Wednesday 19th April 2017 at 6:47 pm
Hi Emma,

Perhaps I can just add a few words of clarification. Harden Park has been included, but as planning permission had already been granted for 26 dwellings (14 apartments on the former County Hotel site and 12 bungalows on the former Yesterday's site) this figure counts towards existing permissions rather than new permissions. Both new and existing permissions count towards the overall target of 3,500 homes for Local Service Centres. The responses to the questionnaire seem to support the decision to approve the development of 26 dwellings at this location.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
David Pearson
Wednesday 19th April 2017 at 10:06 pm
I wish to state for the record that the proposed option 5 A34 / Tomato Farm is on the land associated with now defunct Ryles Farm and is therefore not in any way connected with A Pearson and Sons or on any of the land owned by our company.

Kind regards

David Pearson
Chris Jones
Saturday 22nd April 2017 at 4:08 am
Of course it's a fair representation ,
2100 households have decided to oppose any development in the village.
Roger Birch
Sunday 23rd April 2017 at 3:15 am
Craig, it is invalid logic to suggest the responses to the questionnaire "seem to support" the decision. The questionnaire was couched in terms that we had no option other than to accept development and that "No" was not an option. If the PC has already accepted the 'inevitable' rather than fight it, then what we are talking about is resigned acceptance of the least bad scenario and not support for it!

Equally, Chris's logic is wrong. The fact that 2100 households (assuming this number is correct) did not respond does not automatically correlate to them opposing any development. However, I am in total agreement with the sentiment being floated! Coming back to the questionnaire's wording, it would have been very interesting to see how many people would have responded had there been a "No development" option!

Emma's comment is closest to reality - the results of the questionnaire cannot hold any credibility when the option which clearly came out as the 'preferred one' (again given the context) is not even a valid option! When did the PC realise this?

It seems the PC - who were voted in on a platform of openness and communication - now have the most questions to answer! Not only does this relate to the initial process, but also their apparent 'recommendation' to promote the option the public voted in the block of 4th - 6th and one which 'slips in' the moving of the Heyes Lane allotments.
Mike Dudley-Jones
Sunday 23rd April 2017 at 11:27 am

Putting a 'No Deveopment' option into the questionnaire would have been misleading as most residents, of course, would have opted for this believing that it was realistic. As a Parish Council it is our role to advise and guide our residents as best we can and this, we will continue to do. But to lead them to believe that we might be able to successfully fight off the requirement for around 100 homes by 2030 would have been irresponsible because it is our belief that we would fail.

Without the suggestions we are putting forward we would certainly have 'development sites' imposed on us and these might well be on land we were all opposed to but would by then have no option but to accept.

Nobody likes change but the number of houses proposed for Alderley Edge at around 100 is modest compared to many other communities. We should also remember that, with the exception of the occupants of Chorley Hall, we all live in a 'development'!

I still wish that rather more people had used the questionnaire to tell us all how they feel. How wonderful would it have been if we could have had a representative appraisal. Instead it seems that we all have to continue to speculate.
Craig Browne
Sunday 23rd April 2017 at 1:48 pm
Hi Roger,

If I can just add a little bit of background to help put this in context. As part of the Local Plan Strategy, Cheshire East have a responsibility, handed down by central government, to identify land for the provision of 36,000 homes by 2030. Should CE fail to do this, all of its green belt policies, conservation area policies, nature area policies etc would be considered out of date, leaving us vulnerable to any developer who came along.

Through the Local Plan Strategy, neighbouring Wilmslow have been given an allocation of 900 homes and Handforth an allocation of 2,000 homes. Meanwhile, here in Alderley Edge, we are looking at an allocation closer to 100 homes. Naturally, we would prefer to be looking at an allocation of no homes at all, but that simply isn't an option and it would have been misleading to offer it as one in the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire.

The challenge for us now is to determine where these 100 homes should go, in the best interests of the whole village. We could say that none of them should go in the green belt, but this would just mean more infill development (commonly known as "garden grabbing") instead. The piecemeal nature of infill development would mean no infrastructure levy for investment in things like roads, footpaths, car parking, allotments or parks.

The alternative, reluctantly, is to release small pockets of green belt land for development in order to satisfy our allocation. By doing this, and identifying these sites within our Neighbourhood Plan, we will qualify for investment through the Community Infrastructure Levy and be much better placed to fight the Story Homes proposal, which would have a much greater impact on the green belt and change forever the character of Alderley Edge.

Kind regards,
Duncan Herald
Monday 24th April 2017 at 9:36 am
Parks may not be a problem, as already some Councils are looking at 'farming out' parks to charities!
Have C.E. thought about this ?
Mark Hillyard
Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 6:14 pm
I did not get this survey. I got a survey asking my opinion about affordable housing with no mention of site preferences. How do I add my opinion now?
Christine Munro
Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 8:28 pm
Hello Mark
If you send me an e-mail I will send you a copy which you can complete.
Chris Jones
Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 10:07 pm
With the first surveys results being inaccurate . If it's still not to late to fill in a survey,why not re send them to everyone.
Mark Hillyard
Saturday 29th April 2017 at 11:17 am

Thank you for sending me the survey, It is unfortunate but I never received the original so I am going to ask my neighbours if they had also had problems. Can I give your email address if they need a copy as well? Also, I notice that the survey seemed to be delivered to households rather than individuals so can i ask how did you approach the residents of the care homes in the area?
Mark Hillyard
Saturday 29th April 2017 at 5:31 pm
Just spoken with two of the neighbours and they did not get the surveys either. More to follow...
Roger Birch
Friday 19th May 2017 at 5:43 pm
I realise this is now 'dated' but my wife and I were just about to go on a cruise when I saw your e-mail, and haven't had much chance to respond since.

You talk about a 'No development' option as being "irresponsible". However, was it 'responsible' to put out a flawed survey where the number 1 preferred option was not even an option? Someone in the PC must surely have known this - otherwise it puts into question how well you are managing the task at hand!

Equally, is it then 'responsible' to take a decision based on this flawed survey?

I was also surprised, to put it mildly, that Craig would respond to another comment of mine in a previous post re the Hayes Lane allotments (apparently a major 'plus' in your decision re the Beech Road site) that the difference now is that the PC are working with the allotment holders. I thought the major issue before when over half the people signed the petition was that it was land bequeathed to Alderley and so not up to the PC to take it. It was also probably THE major reason the old PC was voted out.

Pardon my take on this, but it seems that the difference now is that instead of the allotments being moved to somewhere the allotment holders didn't want, but the developer's did, they're now to be moved to somewhere the developers still want but other stakeholders, I.e. the people on the estate where Beech Road is located, may not want - and have certainly not been consulted about. Furthermore, who gave the allotment committee the right to sign away the bequeathed land? Is this another of your PC's 'responsible' decisions?

The other major question must surely also surround the options given. If my reading is correct, then these are all current proposals from developers - all of whom are out to make money. Why are we only given the option of picking who shall make a million? Why cannot the PC take a more holistic approach and look at where best development should take place (assuming it must). Is this not the 'responsible' approach?

Finally, why do you assume a 'no development' option would fail? Given the development on the preferred option from your survey, plus Alderley Park, how much more development does Alderley need or, more to the point, how much more can it take?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Saturday 20th May 2017 at 9:15 am

The questionnaire and survey was the first necessary part of our need to put a Neighbourhood Plan together for the residents of Alderley Edge so that they are able, at a later stage, to vote on the various options open to us in a referendum. The results of the survey will give us all some indication of where future housing might be best built to satisfy the requirement for 'around 100 homes'.

In the time it takes to finalise the questionnaire for printing and it's distribution we became aware that houses already under construction in Harden Park would not be included in the build programme handed down to us from central government via Cheshire East and so that option was rendered somewhat 'flawed' - but it was certainly not a deliberate ploy nor was it in any way designed to be misleading. It was purely a question of timing that we could not have foreseen. It did at least support the current building taking place there - but it still leaves us with the task of selecting a site or sites to build the allocated 100 homes.

Craig Browne has sought to clarify issues in his responses and I can only support him in this. To have offered a 'no development' option really would have rendered the survey 'flawed' as it would have given our residents the unrealistic notion that we will be bypassed by the huge proposed building programmes being put forward for all of our neighbours. We
cannot risk being that complacent and none of us on the Parish Council would want to be sitting idly by as Cheshire East set about making the development sites decision for us all.By then we would have no option but to accept their decision.

As to the Heyes Lane allotment site, you are right that it was indeed bequeathed to our Village for recreation purposes, hopefully to be enjoyed by as many villagers as possible. The Parish Council has always known that the route to making any change to Heyes Lane is a long and difficult one dependent on putting forward realistic and workable options to the current allotment tenants. These discussions continue as the huge investment that we have made in the Medical Centre and the Festival Hall suggest that a small part of that site might be best used to build a car park to support the Hall. Whether the remainder should stay as an allotment site or be converted to a Park is certainly not for us as a Parish Council to decide - nor perhaps is the car park - but carefully examining realistic alternatives to unlock the puzzle is a key part of our role. This we will continue to do.

Ultimately the Village must decide through voting in the Neighbourhood Plan referendum. As a Parish Council, we will continue to present the options we have available to us and we will always do this openly and honestly. I would like to think that we have displayed those qualities throughout our tenure so far and it was the confidence the Village had in our ability to do this that caused our election success in 2015.

Roger, I do thank you for your concern and I hope I have gone some way in reassuring you. We are at the start of a process which will culminate in the Neighbourhood Plan referendum. Your help and support in this process would always be welcome

Mike DJ
Roger Birch
Monday 22nd May 2017 at 10:36 am
Your initial post essentially ‘interrupted’ – or added to - a dialogue between Craig and myself. In itself, that’s fine, but I specifically picked up on one adjective you elected to inject into the dialogue, namely ‘irresponsible’.

Your latest post basically confirms my point that the PC have been anything but ‘responsible’ given that you now admit you knew – before the survey was circulated – that one option was invalid. As such, your suggestion in your latest post that the survey was “somewhat ‘flawed’” is a bit like being ‘somewhat pregnant’. You either are or are not!

One of my major concerns about the current process relates to the apparent sub-texts in what is happening in this ‘planning’ process, especially the moving of the allotments.

However, I believe it's important to remember that it’s not just the allotments that have been bequeathed to this village, it’s also, by way of history, the existing green belt north of Beech Road. It’s my contention that the PC has the responsibility for protecting this because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever – and, with it, the last piece of green belt over which we as a community have any level of control. Once it is gone, we will inevitably just become a suburb of Manchester.

You talk of the allotments being converted in a park to be enjoyed by as many villagers as possible – but have you any idea as to how many people already ‘enjoy’ the land north of Beech Road? I have seen people using that area for 70 years ever since the houses were built in Beech Road and so I would again suggest your arguments in taking it are, at best, inadequately considered or, at worst, flawed.

I have just returned from seeing our daughter in Australia. She lives in Melbourne and when I was looking to get transport to the airport, realised she lives 50 MILES from Melbourne airport – and everything between her place and the airport is one continuous piece of urbanisation. Furthermore, she lives in the south east whereas the airport is in the north. The developed area of Melbourne also stretches down the western part of the Bay meaning there is probably at least 80 miles of continuous development! Do we want something similar here? Surely one of the real beauties of England is the green belt which prevents that sort of development taking place.

You conclude by suggesting I might be able to help. I am more than happy to offer any expertise I might have to assist the PC in this whole process, but not if that means I have to help justify destroying what has been bequeathed to this village and taking decisions that will lead to Alderley becoming a suburb of Manchester.
Mike Dudley-Jones
Monday 22nd May 2017 at 2:44 pm

Had we known that the houses being built at Harden Park would not be included in our allocation we would not have offered that option in the Questionnaire. We didn't - until the document was being distributed to the 2600 households. Unfortunate but in the overall scheme of things not a total disaster.

The Neighbourhood Plan seeks to explore and evaluate our options and there is a Steering Committee overseeing the whole process. It is supported by the PC but not controlled in any way by it.

The questionnaire has given some indication as to what might be possible and when everything has been taken into account the NP Steering Committee will present their findings to the residents in a formal presentation allowing everyone time to decide on what they favour. They will do this by voting in the Alderley Edge Neighbourhood Plan Referendum. The more people that examine the document and decide to vote, the more representative of the Village feelings it will be. It will be this part of the process that matters - not so much the early indications that spring from the questionnaire

Once the vote is decided the Neighbourhood Plan will be 'made' and has a place within the Law. No development over our allotted 100 houses can take place here if the Plan forbids it. If the Plan is not 'made' however, we remain vulnerable to development wherever others see fit. It will be out of our hands.

The Parish Council has no bias in any direction other than to present the available options. Over the next 13 years we as Village will be required to accept the building of 100 new homes. Developers and landowners will seek to provide inducements to support their bids and we will play our part, alongside the residents and the Neighbourhood Plan, to protect our future as best we possibly all can.

A brief examination of other neighbourhoods in Cheshire will confirm to you I believe, that we have 'got off lightly'.
Roger Birch
Monday 22nd May 2017 at 4:12 pm
I am struggling to see consistency in the information being released by the PC.

In your response above, you state “The Parish Council has no bias in any direction other than to present the available options.”

However, in the article in entitled “Help needed to 'protect our village from indiscriminate development'” (May 11), it is reported that “at the Annual Parish Council Meeting on Monday, 8th May, Councillor Craig Browne” said "This is why we have reluctantly agreed to support the proposals for the development of 50 houses on the land north of Beech Road and a further 50 houses on the land opposite Horseshoe Farm.

You claim there is “no bias in any direction”, whereas Craig states the PC has “reluctantly agreed to support” two proposals. So, whose words are correct, yours or Craig’s?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Monday 22nd May 2017 at 4:41 pm

Yes, the proposals (or options) still have to be voted on by the Village and we have no influence over that. Our job is to protect any green belt land we have but as we have no real alternative for the siting of new homes we have had to 'reluctantly agree etc...' .

The Neighbourhood Plan referendum will decide where our new homes will be built - not the Parish Council. If no decision can be made at the referendum - then Cheshire East, backed by central government will decide for us!