Plan B for local developer who appealed against CEC decisions

An Alsager property developer has seen his hopes of building a substantial development dashed after a planning inspector dismissed his appeal.
Muller Property Group, headed by Colin Muller, based at The Point on Crewe Road, Alsager, appealed against Cheshire East Council's refusal of its application to build a discount foodstore, petrol filling station and ancillary sales kiosk, drive-through restaurant, drive-through coffee shop, offices and two retail “pod” units along with creation of associated access roads, parking spaces and landscaping on land at Old Mill Road in Sandbach.
Muller also submitted an application for a much smaller development at the site for a care home and 85 dwellings, which was also refused by the borough council. Muller Group also appealed against this decision.
An online appeal hearing was held in August, with Government planning inspector Mark Dakeyne at the helm and this week, Mr Dakeyne released his decisions – he dismissed Muller’s first appeal and allowed the second to go ahead, granting the developer full planning permission to build the care home and 85 dwellings.
The first application had been refused by Cheshire East Council in August last year as it was considered the development would have a “significantly adverse” impact on trade in Sandbach town centre, outweighing the “small improvement” in consumer choice.
It was also felt that as the prominent site was an “important gateway to Sandbach” the planned commercial buildings would be of “standard generic designs that pay little regard to Sandbach as a place and consequently the development will not suitably integrate and add to the overall quality to the area in architectural terms.”
“The planned care home and 85 dwellings were refused as the development “will not suitably integrate or add to the overall quality to the area in character or landscape terms”.
The 33 car parking spaces with the care home would “fall below the standards set out within Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy,” Cheshire East councillors decided, adding the shortfall in parking would result in on-road parking within the development “which would harm the character and appearance of the development”.
Mr Dakeyne said he dismissed the first appeal because the commercial development “would have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area”, adding: “The development would not conserve and respond positively to the character of the area and its landscape or contribute to local distinctiveness.”
On granting the second application – for the care home and houses - he said it would be acceptable in relation to character and would “observe and respond positively to the character of the area and its landscape, contribute to local distinctiveness, and would preserve trees and hedgerows that provide a significant contribution to amenity”.
Mr Dakeyne added 29 conditions to his approval of this application, which included that work on the development should begin within three years and that the development shall not be occupied until the access/roundabout/highway improvements and toucan crossing shown on the plans were in place.
This is not the first time Muller Property Group has locked horns with Cheshire East Council. The authority blocked Muller's planning application for a 189-home housing estate, primary school, employment space and an access road at Stapeley near Nantwich but the decision was recently overruled on appeal by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, who permitted the development on green fields.