The Rhodes Field Planning Application for 110 houses was approved at Thursday’s Strategic Planning Board meeting, which at times was little more than a poorly attended shambles.

At any one time there was a maximum of 9 members present (of a 14 member Board) with some attending up to the lunch break and others only appearing for the afternoon session.  We believe that this was the result of Cheshire East arranging the meeting at very short notice and therefore it would have clashed with councillors other commitments.  ARAG only became aware of the meeting on Tuesday evening.

One member indicated that he was going to vote against the Rhodes Field site because of the Pylon; and that he had personal experience of people developing cancer. He was accused of having a ‘Pre-determined view’, was cross examined by the Cheshire East legal officer and eventually had to leave the room for the remainder of the debate.

Councillor Rod Fletcher, Alderman Derek Bould and Sylvia Dyke made effective detailed presentations, objecting to the application, and answered questions from members of the Strategic Planning Board.

During the debate; Councillor David Brickhill ‘moved’ a motion to refuse, the application, which was ‘seconded’ by Councillor Derek Hough.

They both did a really good job of arguing that the cumulative effect, of a range of 9 detailed points, was adequate reason to refuse the application. Some of the points identified were Noise, Dust, Objections from Newcastle-under-Lyme Council, Highways and failure to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework.

When it came to the vote; 3 were in favour of refusal and 3 were against, with two abstaining, including the Chairman.

A discussion followed about whether an alternative motion was needed but the Legal Officer told the Chairman that he had a casting vote.

The Chairman, Cllr Davenport, then voted against the motion and so it was lost !

Further debate followed; which led to Cllr Peter Mason moving Approval and the resulting vote was 4 in favour of approval and 3 against, with one abstention.


That such critical decisions can be made, when such a small number of the members are present, is appalling. Sadly for us, Cllr Brendan Murphy who has often strongly supported our efforts, had to leave at lunch time; otherwise the outcome may well have been much different.