Response From Cheshire Lakes
We write in response to the article posted on this website on 21 April 2016, querying the benefits the proposed Water Sports Centre at Hanson Quarry will bring to Chelford.
Whilst we have expended considerable time and resources to seek to try and explain the benefits of the scheme before it was submitted, the recent article demonstrates that some further explanation from us may be required.
As such, responding to the article under the headings used by its Author, we seek to make the following brief points:
'Breach of Green Belt'
Government planning policies seek to strictly control development in the Green Belt, however, national and local policies do allow for the delivery of sport and recreation facilities in the Green Belt and development at previously developed sites, where the openness of the Green Belt will be protected.
This is a facility that requires an existing water body and delivers a sport and recreation facility at a previously developed site. The delivery of the scheme occurs with only a small amount of newly built development being required.
On this basis, it is our planning case, supported by a respected and well established local Planning Consultancy that this development complies with the strict national and local Green Belt planning policies.
Our case is further enhanced, in our view and that of our Consultants, on the grounds that the impact of any minimal increase in built form in the Green Belt is further offset by the proposed investment, job creation, tourism and sport participation benefits of the scheme, all of which are key planning objectives of the Government, alongside Green Belt protection.
The author makes reference to Green Belt 'breaches' leading to Green Belt land being lost forever once developed, and thus setting a dangerous precedent. This development is unique and seeks to advance development that is allowable in the Green Belt in the form of sport and recreation. Moreover, all rights of way will be retained as part of the scheme. Thus, this private land will not be lost and no precedent is set by its proposed development.
Picking up on a minor point raised in the article, reference is made to Government Policy PG3 regarding Green Belt. I confirm that this is not a current policy noted within the National Planning Policy Framework, or elsewhere.
It remains our intention that at least 30 jobs will be created via the application and, wherever possible, these will be filled from the local area. Our sister site Foxlake Adventures has over 30 people working there during the summer season. Our public consultation triggered huge interest from parties seeking future employment at our site, and all of these people's details are on file to talk with further, subject to planning being allowed.
Noise and Light Pollution
The application details confirm that no floodlighting is or will be sought here. There will be no loud music either.
Our sister site in Liverpool operates with no music and our other sister site, Foxlake Adventures has quiet background music playing in the café, reception area.
The submitted application form confirms proposed opening hours of 0600 to 2200 daily. However, it should be clarified that the overall scale of activity of the site is likely to be much less, depending heavily on the season.
In the summer, the South Lake may be made available from 0600 for use by Open Water Swimmers only, many of whom seek to access such facilities before work. Wakeboarding and other activities would not start until 0900 and would cease at a time when natural light began to fade (dusk). As no floodlighting is sought, or will be subsequently, all activities on the lakes would cease at dusk. Thereafter, the 'Clubhouse' may remain open for a short time longer to enable users to change etc. The site would then be clear of customers by 2200.
In the summer months, reflecting activities at the Applicant's other facilities; operation is expected to occur as above 7 days a week.
In the winter, when temperatures are colder and days are shorter, activity will be much less and will be heavily influenced by day-light and usage. Generally, 3-5 days of trading would be expected per week in the winter, but this a fairly fluid matter dependent on demand. As such, we have applied for 7 day trading, 0600-2200, however, it will only be operational on this basis for a relatively short period of the year.
We have commissioned extensive works via a respected Highway Consultant to cover all matters relating to highway safety and capacity. Their findings confirm that no adverse highway impacts will arise from the proposals.
The peak operation of the site will occur outside of traditional peak highway use hours, further reducing any perceived impact.
One would surely expect that having a greater number of people visiting the site and surrounding area would increase the potential for spin-off spending in local shops, hotels, restaurants and shops.
We see no reason why the proposals would not add significantly to the profitability of surrounding businesses, that has certainly been the feedback from our consultation to date.
The use, management and activity at this site can only be a positive in terms of surveillance and monitoring. We have experience in looking after and caring for similar sites.
We are not a 'large, noisy, urban tourist attraction'. We are in fact the opposite; we will be fitting into our natural surroundings and promoting the great outdoors. Our key aims are to get people participating in sport on a regular basis and to get young people away from computers and televisions and into the outdoors. All of our activities are environmentally friendly and the only noise will be people having fun and enjoying physical activity. Our facility will allow more people to see the Cheshire countryside and enjoy it! Cheshire Lakes is a non for profit, Community Interest Company and our prices will include membership, where local people can use the facilities in a similar fashion to how you would use a monthly gym membership.
Our sister site in Liverpool promotes Stag and Hen Do's, as it is a city center location. Whilst we do expect some bookings from these kinds of groups, it will not be to the same level as Liverpool Wake Park and even when these groups come, it does not mean we suddenly have loud music playing. They enjoy and use the facility in the same way as any other groups or users.
The application is accompanied by a detailed assessment of all drainage matters and confirms that no adverse impacts will arise from the proposals.
We hope that the above summary has been helpful in explaining our proposals a little further.
Whilst we would be a new addition to Chelford, our view is that we are taking a former industrial site and delivering a modern and attractive leisure facility onto the site that will be of great benefit to Chelford and the surrounding area.
We consulted extensively before we submitted the application, to seek to understand local view on the proposals. Of the 489 respondents who engaged with our consultation, 468 were in support of the proposal, with 20 undecided, and 1 against. Attendees to the consultation event were asked to complete a questionnaire. 62 completed questionnaires were received, with 62 respondents agreeing that the proposal would provide positive economic benefits to the area and 61 welcome the proposal to the area and see it as a positive regeneration of the quarried landscape.
We welcome the opportunity to engage further with the community and answer any questions that might remain about our application.
Tim Woodhead & Jonathan Vose — Cheshire Lakes
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