A complete lack of real planning
Dear Sir, — I hope that all readers will persevere with my personal beliefs in this letter which may initially appear to dwell wholly on Alsager where I live.
I believe that the fortunes of this small town provide a microcosm for what has gone wrong with our whole country over decades of mismanagement by governments of all political parties.
Alsager was once the biggest teacher training establishment in the country, which led to its mergence with Manchester Polytechnic and the campus becoming a faculty of Manchester Metropolitan University.
Twyfords Sanitary Ware was eventually to become the largest single unit devoted to vitreous china production and distribution in Europe. Twyfords was sold to Sanitex Corporation of Helsinki, which led to the closure of the Alsager factory.
Cardway Cartons, manufacturers of corrugated paper, sacks and bags was established in 1995 but is now seeking larger premises.
All three of the aforementioned sites have been used to accommodate houses in the local plan, resulting in a 40% increase in homes and relative population.
The remaining main source of employment is the ammunitions manufacturer, CBRE.
Since WW2 manufacturing has bought prosperity to any owners and to the town but sadly land owned by this company at the entrance to the town is causing grave concern.
Town councillors and residents pleaded with CBRE and the new owner of the roadside site to respect the sites’ position and green aspect when developing future employment and to abandon the plan for five warehouse units. These would dominate both the entrance to the town and houses immediately across the B Road.
It has been made clear that the margin of profit between erecting the warehouses or smaller individual employment buildings is a major factor.
Recently there are many warehouses being built around the Crewe area and not all are reported to be in use.
The current disallowance of the units was the subject of a recent appeal and a decision is awaited.
At the outset of the local plan, ministers boasted that the planning regulations had been greatly reduced, which would increase the production of new houses. Lately there have been reports of hundreds of faults found in a single housing development.
Alsager is an example of a complete lack of real planning and an absence of any attempt to create a balanced community.
Not content with the three major sites, allocated for houses, valued green areas used for recreation have been concreted over so that the town is losing its identity.
In the local plan the key word was sustainability, which I believe is an absolute farce; a country brook becomes a designated main river and flood plains suitable for houses. The population is increased by 40% without any thought to welfare, traffic, real employment and pollution.
The only possible site for new shops was allocated for a fire station which, as predicted, has suffered access problems. The nearest town for comparative shopping was Crewe, but most of the major retailers have moved to the retail parks, further afield and not serviced by public transport.
The largest buildings in Alsager, previously banking establishments, have been allocated for uses such as wine bars.
County-wise I have concerns about the loss of farm land and what I perceive as a north and south divide where the south east is becoming overdeveloped and the north is an area of valued tradition and greenbelt.
Any improvements to social life and welfare in Alsager are down to volunteers and projects instigated by town councillors and residents. Areas such as infrastructure and pavements which are in the care of the local authority, are abysmal.
The true nature and priorities of some MPs in central government were revealed during Brexit but claims of bullying, and forced resignations, continue while the country faces a potential epidemic and widespread flooding.
So much local planning is needed now to take the stress out of everyday living, improve local transport and health facilities, create more apprenticeships and training and I cannot see how a commitment to HS2, which will take 10 years and probably be outdated by then, can possibly relieve current tensions.
It will undoubtedly use more billions that any other three planned expenditures and damage the countryside and wildlife.
My closing comment is a sentiment from an objector to HS2 who recently spoke in a discussion. She said that she knew of 24 streams that would be culverted thereby disappearing underground and asked how then will the kingfishers fare? — Yours faithfully,