The Lakes Development
Lakes Planning Submission
This planning submission was originally considered by Cheshire East Strategic Planning Board (SPB) in July, when based on the Planning Officer's recommendation, the application was refused. Essentially, it was decided that the proposed development would have a serious impact on the wildlife of the area, which is in Green Belt and on a site used for nature conservation and agriculture. The current restoration programme for the land received its planning permission following the cessation of sand extraction. Regrettably, due to an administration error, the decision was suspended pending another meeting to consider the application again.
The second meeting of the SPB was held on August 24th and the Planning Officer recommended once again, that the application be refused on the grounds that the development would have a serious negative impact on the bio diversity of the land. The Cheshire East Conservation Officer, who argued that suggested mitigation measures from the applicant would have little impact in protecting the bio diversity, also supported this recommended refusal. Officers argued that the land had a high conservation value of county wide significance and that the ongoing restoration programme was designed to restore the land to woodland, wildlife habitat and agriculture thus protecting its ecological habitat.
Both Nether Alderley and Chelford Parish Councils objected to the plans and supported the recommendation of Officers. Both Parish Councils had argued that the plans were an unnecessary intrusion into the Green Belt, thus setting a dangerous precedent and would reduce bio diversity. Similarly, organisations such as the RSPB and Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society had objected to the plans on the grounds that the abundant and diverse birdlife in the area would be seriously affected. Their views were supported by years of scientific observation and bird counts.
The Chair of Chelford Parish Council and a resident from the Quarry Liaison Group spoke at both meetings, outlining their objections to the plans and supporting the reasons put forward by Officers to refuse the application. Arguments from the applicant were also heard by the SPB at the second meeting. Our Ward Councillor, George Walton, spoke in favour of supporting the plans. The SPB membership was not identical at both meetings.
After some discussion by SPB members, a vote was taken and the result was a split decision 5 in favour 5 against. In such cases, the Chair has a casting vote and consequently as the Chair had already voted in favour, his casting vote was to allow the plans and not to accept the Officers' recommendations. No explanation was given by the Chair as to why his casting vote was in favour of the plans.
The decision to approve means that valuable Green Belt which protects Chelford from over development has now been breached. The Parish Council has always sought to protect the Green Belt for the benefit of residents and it will continue to do so.
Chair Chelford Parish Council
St John's Chelford
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