Wilmslow and Handforth set for over 3000 new homes as Inspector backs Local Plan

LPS  Front Cover - Proposed Changes, Final Version - large size

A planning inspector has backed Cheshire East's Local Plan for shaping future development in the borough which allocates 900 new homes in Wilmslow and 2200 new homes in Handforth by 2030.

It follows three years of public comments and submissions on the council's proposed strategic blueprint for the borough's development to 2030.

The report by Planning Inspector Stephen Pratt gives the Local Plan 'a clean bill of health' and means the council can now move ahead with the document's formal adoption within weeks. The receipt of the inspector's report brings the Local Plan examination to a formal close.

Importantly, his report says the Local Plan, once adopted, will secure 'at least' a five-year supply of housing land to meet projected need which the Council says will provide a vital protection against inappropriate or unsustainable housing proposals from developers.

The proposal for 900 new homes in Wilmslow by 2030, includes: 175 at Royal London (around 80 on land to the east of the existing campus, around 20 to the north of the existing campus and around 75 on land west of Alderley Road), 200 at Little Stanneylands and 150 at Heathfield Farm with 97 listed as being completed and 305 having already been committed by March 2016.

In Handforth the expected level of development is 2200 new homes including 250 on land between Clay Lane and Sagars Road and 1500 at the North Cheshire Garden Village, located off the A34 opposite Handforth Dean Retail Park, with 70 listed as being completed and 323 having already been committed by March 2016.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council said: "This is good news for Cheshire East and a major step forward for residents and businesses alike."

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East cabinet member for housing and planning, said: "The Local Plan is the council's most important tool for shaping development in Cheshire East to 2030 – so this is great news.

"The council is grateful for the inspector's report, which now enables us, after a lot of hard work by our planning team, to press ahead and adopt the Local Plan in a few weeks' time.

"The inspector acknowledged that our Local Plan was one of the most complex and consulted upon he had seen in his more than 20 years' experience. His report shows that any shortcomings identified in the process have now been rectified and, with the published modifications, the Local Plan now has a clean bill of health.

"There has been a tremendous response from our residents and other stakeholders during the extensive 13 rounds of public consultations on our proposals and I'm sure it has allowed everyone to feel they had the opportunity to have their say.

"Our Local Plan has been shown to be both comprehensive and robust and will give the people of Cheshire East its best protection against unplanned and unsustainable development."

The focus of public consultation earlier this year was on the changes the council proposed to the plan it originally submitted to the Secretary of State in May 2014, in light of interim views by the planning inspector during examination.

This included additional and amended strategic site allocations to accommodate the larger scale of growth now expected and planned for in the borough.

The council received a total of more than 60,000 comments during the various consultations to arrive at the finalised Local Plan.

Planning Inspector Mr Pratt said in his report: "I conclude that Cheshire East Council has adopted a balanced and rational approach to economic and jobs growth, which is both ambitious and aspirational, yet realistic and with a reasonable prospect of success."

Cheshire East's Local Plan includes provision for a housing requirement of at least 36,000 new homes and 380 hectares of development land, to reflect a stronger anticipated jobs growth rate of 0.7 per cent per annum.

The inspector also endorsed all of the 60-plus strategic sites within the Local Plan, including large-scale proposals, such as the North Cheshire Garden Village at Handforth.

The report supports the council's strategy of making amendments to green belt land.

Whilst the first part of the Cheshire East Local Plan focuses on Key Service Centres, including Wilmslow and Handforth, the second stage - the Site Allocations and Development Policies - looks at the Local Service Centres. There are 13 of these - Alderley Edge, Audlem, Bollington, Bunbury, Chelford, Disley, Goostrey, Haslington, Holmes Chapel, Mobberley, Prestbury, Shavington and Wrenbury.

The SADP will allocate additional sites for development, these will be smaller sites within town centres, the larger villages and rural areas and generally they will be sites of less than 150 homes or 5 hectares in size.

There remains 1125 homes and 3.56 hectares of employment land to be identified across the 13 Local Service Centres to meet the targets established in the Local Plan Strategy. 

Alderley Edge is expected to receive an allocation of around 100 new homes as part of the Site Allocations & Development Policies document

The Site Allocations and Development Policies' Issues Paper was subject to a six-week consultation earlier this year, which will be followed by a further consultation on the initial draft plan.

Cheshire East Council, Local Plan


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

Fiona Doorbar
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 7:02 am
What is the proposal put forward to provide adequate schooling?
Craig Browne
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 11:33 am
Hi Fiona,

It isn't really my place to comment upon proposals for other wards; however, I do recall that the masterplan for Handforth East included construction of a new school. I would imagine that there will also be a CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) charge, based on a payment per sq metre of all land developed, which goes towards improving local infrastructure and amenities.

It is perhaps worth adding that Part 1 of the Local Plan Strategy is due to come before full council for approval on 27th July; however, Part 2 (which addresses the Local Service Centres, including Alderley Edge) is not scheduled to be adopted until the end of 2018. There will be a consultation on proposed development sites for the LSCs early in 2018.

Kind regards,
Fiona Doorbar
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 6:36 pm
Hi Craig , thanks for your reply but as a parent , you need to understand that this issue is a problem for all local wards/councillors. My family were offered a school place at Thytherington High and , as I hope you will agree , as an Alderley Edge resident , is not ideal from the logistical point of view as a working parent. If all ward councillors do not 'pull together' on this ongoing issue then I fear the education of our kids will suffer.
Once again , Thankyou for being visible on this online forum.
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 9:33 am
Fiona is rightly concerned about secondary education provision for our young people and for the fact most of our Ward Councillors remain silent on the issue. It is just not acceptable that a young person living in Alderley is offered a place at Tytherington. RoW, in the presence of Stephen Pratt, Goverment LPS Inspector, raised the need for an additional 1000 and growing places brought by the LP and the fact well over 350 young people cannot currently get into Wilmslow High School. CEC accepted a need and asserted this will be met via development on land already identified in the LP. So what is the hold up? If CEC can approve offices on land currently still in the Green Belt at Royal London then outline approval for education is possible too. A new school takes time to build. Getting on building it is a priority.