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Proposals for 370 homes rejected for second time

Cheshire West has become the second council to reject plans to build up to 370 homes between Middlewich and Sproston.

Persimmon Homes wanted to build the houses, plus a new church with community facilities, on land off Holmes Chapel Road.

The plans have already been turned down by Cheshire East Council.

At a meeting, Cheshire West's planning committee also rebuffed the development.

The location does not feature in the local plans of either authority – and 87 per cent of the development would have been built in Cheshire West.

“Enough is enough,” said Cllr Jim McKechnie, chairman of Sproston Parish Council.

“We need to protect the remaining open countryside and high-grade agricultural land in Cheshire – and not see a concrete jungle between our towns.

“The roads adjacent to this site are already congested and dangerous – with the A54 overburdened.”

Cllr McKechnie also raised concerns about the impact the development could have on air quality – and suggested that schools and health services in the area are already stretched.

Samantha Lee, acting on behalf of Persimmon, insisted the scheme would be a welcome addition to the area despite not being included in the local plans.

“This proposal can help to significantly boost the housing land supply of the authority in line with national planning guidance,” she told councillors.

“The housing requirement for CWAC set in the local plan strategy is only a minimum, not a ceiling for new development.

“It is agreed with the officer that the site is in a sustainable location, and the development can offer a number of benefits – including providing open market housing and up to 111 affordable homes to meet local needs.”

Officers had recommended the scheme for refusal ahead of the meeting over fears it would intrude on the open countryside and contradict the local plan – and there was little disagreement among the committee.

Cllr Jill Houlbrook, Conservative, said: “I haven’t heard or read anything which would make me want to disagree with the officers’ recommendation for this application.

“I think it is totally out of place, totally unsustainable and totally not wanted.”

However, Cllr Peter Rooney, Labour, suggested the scheme would be a small step towards resolving the nation’s housing shortage.

“I have no doubt that I will be outvoted strongly by my fellow councillors today,” he said.

“But this country does need two million homes in the next decade – and they are going to have to go somewhere.

“Saying this is not in a sustainable location when it is plonked right next door to a large housing estate – if that’s not sustainable, how did the other place get planning permission?”

As he predicted, Cllr Rooney was the only committee member to support the application in the vote, with the 10 other councillors voting against the scheme.

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