White Moss Quarry Update

The White Moss Quarry

Introduction

If the proposed development of 700 to 1000 houses on the White Moss Quarry site goes ahead it will have a very significant effect on Alsager’s infrastructure (its schools, medical services, roads, shops etc) and it must be taken into account in Cheshire East’s Local Plan.

Because this proposal is so recent the site was not considered for housing in the Draft Development Strategy and it was therefore necessary to include a reference about its impact in Alsager Town Council’s formal response to Cheshire East’s consultation process.

ARAG drew attention to this issue and the Town Council arranged for it to be considered at its Planning and Community Services Committee meeting.

The Alsager Town Council minutes show the following:

At the meeting of the Town Council’s Planning and Community Services Committee held on Tuesday 26th February 2013 the following addendum to the Alsager Town Council’s Consultation response dated 20th February 2013 was unanimously agreed:

 “ As the Town Council has expressed serious concern on Page 1 of its response on the impact on Alsager of the proposed new settlement at Barthomley, then the Town Council contend that there is an equally clear case for formal consideration of such a proposal for White Moss Quarry on the impact on Alsager”

This council meeting was well attended by ARAG members and others and there was a good contribution from the floor. The outcome was consistent with ARAG’s request to the Town Council and this is an excellent example of “working together”.

Background.

The White Moss Quarry, Radway Green is a large site on the boundary of Alsager and Haslington. It is situated off the Crewe Road, behind the garden centre, running between the motorway, Nursery Lane and Close Lane.

A 20 year quarrying licence was granted to Beecroft Peat Products in 1987 to extract peat and underlying sand, this licence came with conditions and a commitment to a restoration plan. The documentation of these arrangements can be found on the Cheshire East website here.

The restoration plan identified ‘two shallow landscaped lakes of natural interest used for recreation and fishing together with a larger deep water lake which will be used for leisure purposes ( e.g. wind surfing, sailing etc. )’. There was also a comprehensive re-seeding and planting programme.

20 years later, the restoration plan has not been implemented as planned and a new licence has now been granted for another 20 years.

Over the years, residents adjacent to the White Moss Quarry have complained about the noise, dust and intrusion of the quarrying operations and that the licence conditions have not been met. A number of residents do feel that their views and complaints have been consistently ignored.

In recent weeks, a proposal to build houses on the White Moss Quarry site has been publicised. The number of houses currently being proposed is 700 although higher numbers have been discussed.

The proposals lack detail and in particular, the relationship between the proposal and the committed restoration plan has not been clearly explained.

The Impact on Alsager as a whole.

In the Cheshire East draft Local plan, Alsager is a Key Service Centre, providing infrastructure and services to its catchment area. Cheshire East has defined a housing allocation for Alsager for the next 20 years of 1,000 houses. Alsager is unique, in that all of its allocation can be achieved through building on its Brownfield sites. If the rules are applied by the Cheshire East Strategic Planning Board, this means that our greenfield sites are protected, if Alsager can demonstrate that it will achieve its allocation.

Planning permission has already been granted for the Twyfords site and Crewe Road, giving a total of at least 400 houses already in year 1.

When the Alsager Town Plan was produced, there was no suggestion of building either on the White Moss Quarry(700 – 1000) or Barthomley (4,500). There is no doubt that if these two sites had been considered, the plan would have been very different.

The White Moss Quarry is an industrial site so from that point of view some well planned building there would be consistent with Alsager’s Brownfield first policy. Some residents have expressed the view that having some housing there is a better option that continued quarry operations.

There is as yet no detail of a White Moss Quarry proposal and if one is made, it will be subject to public consultation in the normal way. It is not at all clear however how such a proposal will be treated by Cheshire East. Common sense suggests that any building on the White Moss Quarry would be a direct contribution to the Alsager Housing allocation and Cheshire East planning officers have agreed with that point of view in meetings.  However, that is very different from a formal agreement on how these number will be handled. The White Moss Quarry is not covered by any Cheshire East plans and a large part of the site is in the Haslington parish, so until a formal position is established, the appropriate rules for planning board deliberations are unclear.

 ARAG View

ARAG has an ‘open mind’ on the White Moss Quarry. There is as yet, no detailed proposal and the received views of residents are mixed.

It is essential though that Cheshire East clarifies the position on how such a development would impact the housing allocation of Alsager. The Town Council has requested that formal consideration is given to this in the Cheshire East Local Plan . ARAG will follow this up with the developer and Cheshire East.