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Access concerns added to reasons for refusal

An application for 25 homes in Sandbach has been refused, with councillors questioning whether construction vehicles would even be able to access the site off the narrow Wrights Lane.

Edgefold Homes applied for permission to build 23 houses and two bungalows on the 1.2ha site off Wrights Lane at Sandbach Heath, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).

The site lies within the allocated Capricorn site in the local plan and Cheshire East’s planning officers had recommended the proposal be refused because part of it is land allocated for employment use.

But most of the debate at Wednesday’s (11th January) meeting of the Southern Planning Committee centred around concerns about the access along Wrights Lane being too narrow, and in particular how construction vehicles would negotiate their way through parked cars to even get to the building site.

Committee chair Coun Andrew Kolker (Dane Valley) asked highways officer Andrew Goligher: “You’re confident that construction traffic will be able to get on the site and potentially reverse back off the site?”

The highways officer said the road was wide enough for an HGV to pass a car.

But Coun Mike Hunter (Middlewich) told the committee the day he visited the site the bin wagon struggled to get down Wrights Lane and then had difficulty reversing.

Sandbach councillor Mike Benson moved the application be refused as per the officer’s recommendation, adding he, too, had reservations about Wrights Lane being so narrow.

Coun Hunter seconded the move to refuse, saying: “This site will come back again … I think there should be some sort of safeguard where access is gained from within the Capricorn development.”

He asked if anything could be done to ensure, if future applications did come in, access must come from within that site because Wrights Lane was not suitable for construction traffic.

“We’re here to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for the residents of that area and for the access to that site,” he said.

Officers said they could not impose any condition to ensure access for any future proposal must come from within Capricorn, but highways concerns was added as another reason for refusing this application.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee had heard from the applicant’s agent that the scheme would deliver 25 new homes, including eight affordable.

He said the proposed development site was roughly half within the residential part and half in the employment part of the allocated site but added: “There’s nothing within this application which would prevent the employment coming forward.” But councillors did not agree and the application was refused, with 10 councillors voting for refusal and one abstaining.

The scheme was refused on the grounds it was contrary to local plan policies and “the piecemeal loss of parcels from the employment area to alternative uses has the potential to prejudice delivery of the employment site as a whole”; it would not make a positive contribution to its surroundings; it would create additional vehicle movements past some properties at Wrights Lane; and it would not provide sufficient public open space and children’s play space.

The additional highways reason for refusal, which was added at the meeting, was that Wrights Lane, by reason of its narrow nature, would not provide a safe and suitable access to serve the proposed development.

Coun Hunter also asked that the committee’s concerns about construction traffic using Wrights Lane be minuted.

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