Aiming to minimise the 'damage' of warehousing
It is up to the residents of Alsager and the town council to ensure that “damage” caused by the development of five warehouses is kept to a minimum.
That was the message after the town councillor who spoke against the application during a planning appeal, which applicant Construction Development Projects won, said the decision should not be challenged.
As reported by the Chronicle, Coun Derek Hough had said a challenge would have been possible but that the cost to the town council in legal fees would be too high when the decision was likely to stand anyway.
Instead he has called for a pre-application meeting between the developer, residents, and the town council ahead of the reserved matters stage of the planning process, which relates to the information excluded from the initial outline planning application. This usually includes details about the layout, access, scale and appearance of the development.
The applicant had appealed against the decision by Cheshire East Council to refuse the proposal to develop 19,236sqm of floorspace, parking and landscaping on land off Crewe Road, near BAE Systems' ammunition plant at Radway Green. There was also much opposition from Alsager residents.
Planning inspector Kelly Ford found in favour of the applicant, deciding that the warehouses would be set back sufficiently from Crewe Road so they would not impact on nearby housing.
She said concerns about the traffic impact on local roads was negated by the fact a worst case scenario model identified only a marginal increase in traffic and that in respect of concerns that the type of employment proposed would not generate the right economic benefits, the inspector said Cheshire East's local plan did not specify a specific type of employment use for the site.
In an email to town council clerk Nicola Clarke, Coun Hough mentions that conditions made by the planning inspector in her decision, which have to be obeyed, should be flagged up to Cheshire East before the reserved matters stage.
These relate to a proposed landscape buffer involving trees and an earth mound, the use of appropriate building materials in the construction process to help in camouflaging the building and a condition which mentions the development would comply with the section of the National Planning Policy Framework which supports development “that makes efficient use of land and is sympathetic to local character through among other things layout and appropriate and effective landscaping”.
This condition explains it would also not conflict with a paragraph in the Framework which says permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.
Coun Hough’s email said: “I suggest that we ask Cheshire East Council to consider our responses to those conditions.
“Then we come to the reserved matters application itself.
“I believe that reserved matters applications are planning applications and are treated the same way as other applications. The reserved matters application will therefore be considered by Alsager Town Council in the normal way ie we are statutory consultees.”
Coun Hough said the applicant may want to roll out their ideas prior to the reserve matters application.
He added: “I suggest that we ask for a pre-application meeting to involve the council and residents.”
Coun Hough said he believed Alsager's now adopted neighbourhood plan could hold sway in the determining of the reserved matters application. He said: “I suggest that we contact Cheshire East Council's planning department to check this point and whether it should affect the appeal decision.
“It looks like the warehouses will be built. It is now up to us to ensure that the damage done to this part of Alsager is minimised.”