Further investment and jobs in Handforth

Promotional Feature

T his briefing document has been prepared by Orbit to summarise the planning application proposals for the new retail development on land off Earl Rd adjoining Handforth Dean - reference 16/5678M. The application is to be considered by Members of the Strategic Planning Board on 22nd March 2017.

The application is a resubmission of one refused in February 2016, which is due to be heard at public inquiry on 13th June 2017.

There have been a number of changes since the last application was determined;

  • The new large Next retail store is now constructed and open adjacent to the site.
  • Another year has passed and there is still no demand for office or warehouse space. Our Epsom House office building adjacent to the site remains empty since construction 10 years ago.
  • Boots are now opening adjacent to the site.
  • The existing warehouse tenants on site have confirmed, by letter, that the warehouse is not suitable for modern day facilities or their purposes going forward and they support the redevelopment plans. They would relocate the existing 7 jobs from the site.
  • Planning permission has been granted enabling the demolition of the warehouse building (8th June 2016).
  • A South Manchester market analysis has been produced by established specialists GVA Billfinger and Knight Frank showing the complete lack of demand for typical 'B' use classemployment floorspace in this area. Orbit have let office floorspace in Wilmslow with little difficulty but have had no interest next to Handforth Dean retail park either in the permitted office scheme or the vacant Epsom House.
  • Significant information has been submitted showing the economic benefits of the proposals;


Increased employment over 290 additional jobs. 7 existing warehouse jobs can be re-employed at the Macclesfield branch, or on-site by The Emerson Group until the development is complete and then within the 'back of house' in the retail units.

£9m local inward investment.

£282,000 financial contribution to CEC towards employment generation and investment.

£331,292 financial contribution to highway/footpath improvements towards Handforth village, train station and public transport improvements.

£25,000 financial contribution towards local public open space and parks, outdoor sport and recreation improvements.

Much needed £800,000 in new local Business rates payable to CEC.

Important History

There is an opportunity to continue the retail units (as illustrated) opposite Next, which was approved with similar planning restrictions (employment land) on 23rd October 2014 (12/4652M).

A number of planning applications and appeals including significant retail uses were considered by an Inspector and the Secretary of State in 1997/98 (almost 20 years ago), which affected this and the Local Authority owned adjacent land which is currently the subject of a planning application for 380,000 sqft of retail floorspace. All were refused.

£100,000's cost to the Council and all parties involved (including lost revenue from land).

Refusal of the application before you now, on the grounds of loss of employment land, directly affects any decision on the much larger retail scheme currently applied for on the Council owned site opposite, which is allocated as flagship employment land.

Whilst the Secretary of State was concerned at the location of out-of-town retailing here in 1997/98, he actually concluded that 'The Council's land should be retained for development within Class B1 (Offices) in accordance with the Local plan. It is not essential that the Orbit land be retained for development within Class B' (Therefore it does not preclude an application for retail). Now the only reason for refusal on Orbit's site is loss of employment land, which is what the inspector stated the land was not essential for.

Other Key Planning Matters

Handforth Parish Council have resolved to support the planning application in preference to the permitted offices which they did not support (13/3041M - 8th June 2016).

No significant retail impact on local centres, as acknowledged in the officers report.

The site is located in an established retail destination, adjacent to M&S, Tesco's, Outfit, Boots, and a new Next store.

High quality design to complement the adjacent retail developments.

There have been no objections to our scheme.

Traffic implications far less than consented office scheme for the site (particularly at peak hours). No objection from CEC highways.

Site allocated for 'Employment uses'. This new development will significantly increase employment from 7 up to 291 new jobs.


The Emerson Group, (located within the borough for 57 years) which includes Orbit, owns approx 33 acres of land and over half a million square feet of buildings within the Earl Road / Epsom Avenue / Stanley Green area. The total investment to date has been around £35m through acquisition, remodelling, refurbishment and development of new buildings. This is part of the Group's Commercial overall investment in the Cheshire East Borough of £260m which generates around £8m in business rates annually.

The Emerson Group also owns and continues to invest in the local community at The Paddock Shopping Centre in Handforth, Cheadle Hulme Precinct, Lyme Green and many retail, office and business units in Handforth and Wilmslow Town Centre - some of the closest centres to this site and have, as such, a significant vested interest in the success of all.

Alternative development and investment is now required for this site.

Summary of proposals

  • 5 new non-food retail units (5,606 sqm) and 2 new non-food retail units that could also be used for restaurant / café uses (429 sqm) as a complementary continuation of the existing retail frontage at this established location.
  • Demolition of an existing warehouse (consent already granted for demolition) and development of under utilized vacant land.
  • Retention of Stanley Court Office building with associated 100+ jobs.
  • Greatly improved amenity, extensive landscaping, native hedgerow planting and appropriate car parking provision (same ratio as approved for 'NEXT' that is now open).


Orbit have demonstrated the significant merits the application will bring and are committed to further investment and jobs in the Stanley Green / Handforth Dean area.

The provision of a high quality development, generating significant employment opportunities, is a positive move forward for this site.

Orbit Developments