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Friday, May 17, 2024
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Councillors hit out at ‘antiquated’ rules

Frustrated councillors hit out at “antiquated” 20th century planning rules that prevented them approving a “brilliant” 21st century eco-friendly Passivhaus Plus home, which would produce more energy than it used.

Eco Design Consultants want to bulldoze the existing farmhouse and agricultural buildings at Dawson Farm, off Buxton Road at Bosley, and build a partially subterranean Passivhaus Plus home, with associated renewables and landscaping, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).

The house, which would be set into the hillside, would include nine en suite bedrooms, guest suite and living accommodation at ground and first floor, with vehicle and cycle parking and plant at second floor level.

The scheme also includes 760 ground-mounted solar panels Cheshire East’s planning officers had recommended the scheme be refused.

Planning officer Rob Law told Wednesday’s meeting: “Unfortunately, officers have found it is materially larger than the dwelling it replaces … as a result, the proposals would result in harm to the rural character of the countryside by virtue of its scale, siting, size and design.

He said the loss of some buildings would also impact on bats.

The applicant’s agent, John Scott, told the meeting the proposal was for a multi-generational family home that would respond to climate change, in particular extreme weather, be carbon neutral and help improve the environment, including biodiversity.

He said an existing large barn was being retained for storage and the bats.

Nine members of the 11-strong Northern Planning Committee wanted to approve the application.

But they were told by the council’s lawyer if they were minded to approve an application recommended for refusal and considered to be a significant breach of policy, then it would have to be referred up to the Strategic Planning Board – meaning they could not approve it outright.

Several councillors were clearly frustrated, arguing the size of the scheme wasn’t as relevant because much of the new build would not be above ground level.

Knutsford councillor Tony Dean (Con) said: “We appear to be in a situation now where we’re looking at a 21st century planning application but we’re applying 20th century rules to it. “

He suggested the head of planning gave feedback nationally, saying the rules do not work with Passivhaus homes and modern design.

Coun Dean said the definition of what was considered innovative and exceptional design is out of date “because this to me is the most innovative and exceptional design I’ve ever seen”.

He added: “We’re in that situation where poor old Mr Law has got to use antiquated tests and rules to have a look at something as brilliant as this. “ Bollington councillor Ken Edwards proposed the committee accepted the application.

“It contributes to amelioration of climate change. It’s green, “ he said.

“There has been some debate about size … but it does seem to me, if we can ensure it is multi-generational and energy efficient, that’s practically exactly what we want as a domestic dwelling development. “

Coun Anthony Harrison (Chelford) seconded the move to approve.

But Wilmslow councillor Michael Gorman said: “It does offend the local plan and I do know that residents rely on us, as politicians, to defend these local plans when they’re drawn up.

He said the proposal “would be highly suited to another location, but not to this one”.
Coun Thelma Jackson (Prestbury) agreed with Coun Gorman.

The committee voted by nine to two to approve the application against officer recommendations, listing numerous reasons why they were in favour.

These included considerable environmental benefits, the proposal is not visually intrusive and bats can be mitigated.

The application will now be referred to the council’s Strategic Planning Board for a final decision.


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