Plans to extend the offices and create additional car parking at a former farm located within the Green Belt are due to be determined by the Northern Planning Committee next week.
Select Property Group has been working to develop the former Horseshoe Farm site on Horseshoe Lane as their international Head Quarters since taking over as the sole owner in 2016.
Work has recently taken place to provide a separate access from Wilmslow Road along with a building to provide staff amenity areas. These latest plans include infilling between the buildings to extend the offices as well as the creation of additional car parking and landscaping.
The proposed scheme includes woodland, a pedestrian footpath through a wildflower meadows linking to an external seating area, and a central courtyard space.
The application proposes to create 62 additional car parking spaces to provide a total of 120 spaces. The existing car park would be retained and resurfaced along with the creation of new visitor car parking areas including an overflow car park, which would be used less frequently.
During the course of the application, revised plans were submitted reducing the size of the proposed extension.
The application states that the "very limited harm" to the openness of the Green Belt would be outweighed by very special circumstances which include economic benefits, the need for additional parking, improvements to highway safety and ecological benefits as the landscaping scheme would provide a screen for the development and a soft edge to the car park area.
The application has been called in to committee by our Ward Councillor Craig Brown. He felt because the site of the proposed development lies within the Green Belt, the application would benefit from being heard at Northern Planning Committee, to enable them to debate whether there are special circumstances.
Alderley Edge Parish Council had no objection, subject to a landscaping condition and requirement for improved traffic management plans.
Whilst one letter of representation has been received from a neighbouring property stating that the proposed car park is inappropriate development in the Green Belt, if the application is approved landscaping should be carried out in a timely manner and any illumination of the car park should be kept to a minimum.
A report prepared for the meeting of the Northern Planning Committee states "The proposed extension is considered to amount to limited infilling within a previously developed site and as such is not inappropriate development in the Green Belt. No concerns are raised with regard to the design of the extension, the impact upon the character of the area, the living conditions of neighbouring properties, trees of amenity value, ecology or highway safety.
"However, the proposed car park extension is a material change of use of the land and an engineering operation that is considered to reduce openness and encroach into the countryside. Accordingly, the car park is an inappropriate form of development in the Green Belt, which also adversely affects the visual amenity of the Green Belt by introducing the distinctly urban feature of a car park into this semi-rural location. The considerations put forward by the applicant are not considered to outweigh the substantial harm to the Green Belt and therefore the proposal is contrary to policy PG3 of the CELPS.
"The applicant is seeking to implement a travel plan at the same time as providing additional car parking within the site, which will inevitably limit the effectiveness of the travel plan aimed at promoting sustainable travel. By virtue of the proposed car park's impact upon the Green Belt and the likelihood of it undermining any encouragement towards sustainable forms of travel the proposal is not considered to be sustainable development."
The planning officer is therefore recommending refusal because the proposed carpark is an inappropriate form of development within the Green Belt.
The Northern Planning Committee will meet to determine this application at Macclesfield Town Hall at 10am on Wednesday, 11th July.
The plans can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 18/1591M.