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Planning investigation about estate’s steps

An investigation has been launched into whether steps on a Congleton housing estate are a breach of planning rules, after residents argued they left wheelchair users with no “realistic alternative”.

The Falcon Rise development, off Goldfinch Close, comprises more than 200 homes and could be the target of “enforcement action” if the borough council rules against its developer, Seddon Homes.

A spokesperson for the company insisted this week that all steps “have been installed to planning approved drawings”, but an active travel campaigner told the Chronicle that their proximity to several bungalows could pose problems for residents.

Antony Bolding, a member of the campaign group Active Travel Congleton, informed the borough council about the steps at the beginning of the year.

He said: “I saw these steps on the Seddon Homes estate and I just thought they didn’t look right. So I dug the plans out that were approved by Cheshire East and could not see any steps in them.

“I complained to Seddon Homes and put a query in to Cheshire East’s planning department at the beginning of the year.

“After chasing it up, I got a call from an enforcement officer who said that a breach of planning notice would be issued.

“But since then, Seddon Homes hasn’t done anything, actually the opposite – they have put a little fence around with handrails on the steps.

“There is no realistic alternative for somebody in a wheelchair or a pushchair and it really ought to be said that the steps have been built next to six bungalows.

“The kind of people that buy bungalows are quite often people that aren’t very steady on their feet, so the people that are most likely to use the stairs are the people living almost next to them.”

Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson for Seddon Homes said: “All paths and steps have been installed to planning approved drawings, however there has been a complaint from a member of the public regarding accessibility and we are working with the local planning authority to see if changes can be made to improve this.”

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: “This matter is currently the subject of an enforcement investigation to establish whether or not there is a breach of planning control.

“If so, then consideration will be given to the expediency of enforcement action at that time.”

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