White Moss Quarry and Re-submitted Planning Applications

White Moss Quarry and Re-submitted Planning Applications 

Background

ARAG is opposed to the inclusion of White Moss Quarry as a Strategic Location in the Cheshire East Local Plan and also against any planning proposal which might be presented for the White Moss Quarry in the meantime. We recommend that Alsager residents submit their objections to this Cheshire East proposal during the forthcoming six week consultation period.

 The reasons for taking this position are expanded below.

 Cheshire East has decided to delay the Local Plan process in order to have a further 6 week public consultation on additional Strategic Sites/Locations. The White Moss Quarry is one of these and has been classified a Strategic Location. This is both good and bad news. The good news is that there is now an opportunity for the Community to make its feelings known about the White Moss, which we must take. Delaying the Local Plan however means delaying the protection which a Local Plan should offer. We now know that the Planning Inspector has ruled that Cheshire East does not have a 5 year supply of available building land and we can anticipate more speculative development proposals as the window of opportunity for Developers widens. As a result of the Sandbach Road North Appeal Decision, one important consequence for the Community is that a high level of site specific, incisive objections to each planning proposal will be a key factor in influencing the outcomes.

 Developers have re-submitted planning proposals for two sites (Close Lane and Hall Drive) which are currently going to appeal. The period for objections for these two sites ends on November 4th and it is extremely important to ensure that the Alsager Community makes its position clear to ensure that Cheshire East is aware of the strength of feeling and that subsequent appeals are not compromised by a lack of response from the Community.

 Cheshire East Local Plan – Additional Sites / Locations.

  Following the meeting of Cheshire East’s Strategic Planning Board on Thursday 26/09/2013, which was reported here , Cheshire East has now decided to have an additional 6 week public consultation. The results of that consultation should be debated by Cheshire East full Council in late December. This is a significant improvement from the previously reported position which would have rushed the additional sites through with inadequate consultation. In ARAG’s opinion, adopting the White Moss as a Strategic Location would also compromise Cheshire East’s position in future appeals. It would appear that Cheshire East has listened to the input from the various speakers on the day, where Alsager was so well represented.

 When the public consultation starts, we will post to inform our members and request a substantial public response. The White Moss site location is discussed below.

 In the meantime, the Cheshire East Local Plan is delayed and of course this widens the “window of opportunity” for further speculative development proposals.

 The White Moss Quarry.

Cheshire East has identified the White Moss Quarry as an additional Strategic Location in its draft Local Plan. One of the implications of it being a Location, rather than a Site, is that its boundaries are not clearly defined and given that the White Moss Quarry is adjacent to several Greenfields as well as Cheshire East-owned land, ARAG considers it highly likely that Developers will wish to expand this boundary.

A housing quota of 1,000 houses, for the next 20 years, was imposed on Alsager by Cheshire East, a target which has never been objectively assessed. This number was subsequently adopted without challenge in the Town Plan. Cheshire East has proposed that this level should be increased to 1,100, with no justification. This should also be taken in the context that the Cheshire East legal team, in the recent Sandbach Road North appeal, argued that Alsager in its current form is unsustainable both on the grounds of employment and its road system and Alsager should not take any more than the 1,000 defined in the Town Plan.

Even though the White Moss boundaries are not defined, Cheshire East is proposing a housing level of at least 900 houses, which is additional to Alsagers quota, doubling it to 2000.

The ARAG statement of position can be viewed here, and this unjustifiable increase in Alsager’s housing quota is the primary reason for ARAG’s objection.

There are a number of issues associated with the White Moss Quarry which do not appear to have been adequately addressed in the Cheshire East proposal.

  • The licence for quarrying activity on the White Moss Quarry is subject to a phased restoration plan. These phases along with other licence conditions do not appear to have been fully implemented or enforced and there is no discussion or justification within the draft Local Plan about the quarry licence commitment to restore the site according to the agreed restoration plan. It would seem unjustifiable that such an important restoration agreement in such a sensitive area should simply be swept away to facilitate housing.
  • On-site measurement of noise and air pollution from the M6 Motorway has not been carried out to demonstrate that this site complies with European and National standards and to prove that there is no risk to the health of residents and in particular children, living in such close proximity to the motorway. National and European health standards for air and noise pollution do exist and in ARAG’s view, these need to be objectively and accurately measured on the site over a credible and representative time period to prove the site is safe and before any decisions can be made.
  • Throughout the recent Alsager appeals, all of which were attended by ARAG officers, Cheshire East has argued that Alsager cannot take more than its allocation of 1,000 houses, that the Settlement Zone Boundary should not be violated and that any increase would worsen Alsager’s current unsustainability. If Cheshire East does adopt the White Moss as a Strategic Location, doubling the Alsager housing allocation and violating the settlement Zone Boundary, that argument will be undermined and this would compromise future appeals. At least another 5 appeals are anticipated.
  • In making his decision to refuse the Sandbach Road North appeal, the Inspector ruled that it it would seem wise, in this part of the Borough, not to proceed with development which would go beyond the draft strategy at this stage. This is because of the need to assess the impact on adjoining Authorities who have expressed reservations in relation to development close to the common boundaries and specifically, they have expressed concern about development on the White Moss.

 When either Cheshire East starts the 6-week consultation process or a White Moss Quarry planning proposal is received, ARAG will inform its members and recommend objections.

  Re-submission of Planning Proposals.

 Even though the proposals for Close Lane – Muller and Hall Drive will go to appeal, Developers have re-submitted new planning applications . The references are 13/4150 for Close Lane which can be viewed here   and 13/4092C for Hall Drive. which can be viewed here

This approach by Developers demonstrates a clear disdain for the planning process and the clearly expressed views of the Community, however it is very important that there is a strong, clear response from Alsager Residents to these new proposals.

 We would urge all of our members to respond in the strongest possible terms to both of these speculative ( doubly speculative?) Greenfield proposals. We will post in the near future to suggest reasons.