Sandbach councillor speaks out in debate on 55 home scheme for nearby town

By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter

29th Sep 2022 | Local News

Sandbach councillor, Mike Benson.
Sandbach councillor, Mike Benson.

Plans to build 55 affordable homes on land off Close Lane in Alsager have been refused.

Cheshire East's planning officers had recommended the application be approved arguing that, even though it is in the open countryside, permission has already been granted for 16 houses on the northern part of the site.

They also said that, because of other developments, it is, effectively, landlocked.

But councillors disagreed with the recommendation.

Ward councillor Steve Edgar (Haslington, Con) told yesterday's (Wednesday) meeting of the southern planning committee that permission was granted for 16 houses on part of the site last year and now the developer wanted to put 55 in total on the whole site.

"What about public open space? Play areas? Where do the kids play?" he asked.

"The site is overcrowded, it does not integrate at all with the local community."

Sandbach councillor Mike Benson (Con) said: "I don't see why we should cram everything on to this small site."

Alsager town councillor Michael Unett (Lab) said there was not enough greenspace on the site for residents of the proposed development to enjoy.

Cllr Michael Unett

"It would be a ghastly decision to allow so many affordable homes to be crammed on to such a small site with the amenity for residents being well below standard," he said.

Alsager councillor Phil Williams (Lib Dem), speaking as a visiting neighbouring councillor, said: "This application is wrong on all counts.

Cllr Phil Williams

"The only thing that's right about it is that it would be affordable homes. Alsager needs affordable homes but they need them in the right location."

Another objector, Mr Swan, told the committee: "It's an isolated estate with one kind of housing provision… It's reminiscent of a much discredited 1960s housing policy. This creates a ghetto mentality."

The applicant's agent, Darren Muir, said the proposal would provide a mix of two, three and four-bed much needed affordable homes.

But committee members were unhappy with many aspects of the scheme.

Cllr David Marren (Shavington, Ind) said the gardens were too small for family homes.

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con) told the committee: "I accept we need affordable housing but I do not accept that we must accept substandard planning and design and everything else, simply because it's affordable housing.

"We're compromising on design… then we're looking at amenity space, gardens. These are family houses and there are too many of these houses that still have gardens that are far too small.

Cllr Janet Clowes

"Then the public open space…

"My argument would be – lower the density, get rid of the houses, do the job properly and give people affordable housing with quality space."

Sandbach councillor Mike Benson (Con) said: "I don't see why we should cram everything on to this small site."

Congleton councillor Suzie Akers Smith (Ind) agreed.

"It's just not good enough and I would be happy to propose refusal," she said.

This was seconded by Cllr Clowes.

The application was unanimously refused by the committee on the grounds the open space provision does not satisfy the council's policies, there is insufficient private amenity space and on design grounds

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