You will be pleased to learn that the Strategic Planning Board have, today, refused the Hassall Road development proposal – against all the advice and the powers of persuasion of the Planning Officers who put up a very strong case. To be fair, it is their job. But their case was based simply on the current legislation and mainly on the fact that Cheshire East still cannot show the required five year supply of housing even though this is expected imminently. Several people spoke passionately against the proposed development with reference to the legislation and how that should be interpreted in the light of a rapidly changing situation. It was a co-ordinated effort by Cllrs Rod Fletcher (Ward Cllr) and Shirley Jones (Town Cllr) against the proposals, supported by Alderman Derek Bould for ARAG and finally Mrs Amanda Davies from Heath End Farm, as a member of the public. The only councillors on the Planning Board, including Cllr Derek Hough from Alsager, who led the debate, who had anything to say or questions to ask were the ones who refused to be intimidated by the Planning Dept. and we are indebted to them for their support. The proposal was finally rejected on the grounds that it would be damaging to the countryside, the landscape and environment. Some Board members rightly regarded this as another ‘piecemeal’ proposal and typically speculative especially when account is taken of the potential of the nearby Brownfield site at MMU! There was also heated discussion on flooding, drainage, road usage and safety with particular reference to Hassall Rd and also the junction with Pikemere Rd. Evidence on these matters, from bodies like Cheshire Highways and the Environment Agency, was strongly challenged and it could become necessary to provide some ‘hard’ evidence, particularly on road use and safety issues if there is an appeal.
There is no doubt then, that this was nothing less than a victory for common sense over rigid bureaucracy.
Although a positive outcome for Alsager residents, there may well be consequences as the developer may go to appeal – this is likely because the elected Board Members have gone against the advice of the Planning Dept. But there is already an appeal pending on the adjoining site – and today’s decision may well affect the outcome – especially if Cheshire East get their act together very soon over the housing supply issue.
Our heartfelt thanks go to all who supported us, especially Ald. Bould who has been working tirelessly on this matter for at least the last two weeks and Mrs Davies who put up such a good show. It was a shame that none of the large, colour photos of Hassall Road parking and flooded fields etc. were permitted in evidence!
If you haven’t already, please join our Facebook group here and help spread the word. We have over 420 members but need lots more (Alsager pop. is 12000).