Town Council Response to The Cheshire East Draft Development Strategy
ARAG Officers attended the Town Council meeting held in the Civic on Monday 18/01/2013 when the Town Council presented its response to the Cheshire East Draft Development Strategy and its Policy Principles. This document, and any Town Council decisions related to it, is extremely important as it defines the strategy and policies for house building in Alsager for the next 20 years. We were pleased to note that many of the concerns identified by ARAG and forwarded to the Town Council have been adopted and we are appreciative of the support demonstrated by members of the Town Council and its Officers in this process.
There was an opportunity for public participation followed by a wide-ranging debate by members of the Town Council. During this discussion a number of amendments were agreed. Of particular importance in these amendments was recognition that the number of houses allocated to Alsager must not exceed 1,000 as a matter of principle. This is the number agreed in the adopted Alsager Town Plan. Reference was also made concerning the impact of the proposed Barthomley development upon Alsager and its surroundings.
The Alsager Town Council’s response is an important part of the Public Participation Process, in which ARAG is also urging its members to participate. In its response to the Cheshire East Draft Development Strategy (DDS), ARAG will strongly represent the perspective that there must be serious and early consideration of the infrastructure of Alsager as a Key Service Centre for all of the proposed local developments. We strongly urge all residents to engage with this process so that the community is not seen as passively accepting whatever Planning Officers propose or Developers put forward. In this context it is vitally important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation before 26 February so that it is made clear that the community as a whole cares what happens to the Greenfield and playing fields/sports facilities on the MMU site as well as other Greenfield sites under threat. You can see how to register your points of view here .
White Moss Quarry. New Information, Some Concerns.
Following the Town Council meeting, around 22.30 the same evening, a member of the ARAG committee received an email which documented a meeting of the White Moss Quarry Liaison Group. The minutes of the meeting drew attention to a housing proposal for 700 houses on the White Moss Quarry Site.
The meeting took place on 13/01/2013 and was attended by our Cheshire East and Town Council representatives and a local resident. It is, perhaps, notable that ARAG has never been invited to send a representative to these meetings and, therefore, had no knowledge of these proposals nor do we receive the minutes of all meetings. It is clear, however, from the formal minutes that the proposal was strongly supported by the Alsager Town council representative.
ARAG is concerned that the Town Council was not made aware of this proposal or of the support for it by its own representative, before its deliberations and the formal approval of the response to the DDS.
White Moss Quarry lies within the Haslington Parish but on the border of Alsager. Any development there would have a significant impact on Alsager’s infrastructure and services. It is not, therefore, an adequate response to ignore the proposal as Alsager Town would be defined by Cheshire East Council as the Key Service Centre for such a development and not Haslington. After all, this is why the Town Council is represented in the White Moss Quarry Liaison Group meetings. In this context, we will urge the Town Council to review the advice of at least one Cheshire East Councillor regarding definition of the Town boundaries. If there is a clear case to consider the impact of the proposed Barthomley development on the infrastructure of Alsager, there is an equally clear one for formal consideration of such a proposal for White Moss Quarry.
The White Moss Quarry proposal is a significant consideration when agreeing the number of houses that will be needed and that are sustainable in Alsager itself and it’s environs.
ARAG has requested, via the Town Clerk, that as the proposed White Moss Development is ‘a material consideration’ in relation to Alsager’s infrastructure,the Town Council should consider its full potential impact in its response to Cheshire East Council and in particular that it amends its statement on the Barthomley proposal to include reference to White Moss.
ARAG is not proposing that the Parish boundary between Alsager and Haslington is moved in order to include White Moss. This could only be considered by a Boundary Commission and we are not aware of any government plans to do this in the foreseeable future.
However, any developments in Haslington Parish, which impact directly on Alsager’s infrastructure (roads, schools, medical services, sports pitches etc), must be a ‘material consideration’ when setting the level of housing development within the Town Boundary.
Alsager certainly does not need 1,000 houses within its boundaries if very large housing developments, such as White Moss and Barthomley which use Alsager’s services, are built right on our doorstep.