THRONGS of concerned residents flocked to Monday’s town council meeting in response to the new Booths Park proposals.
Landowner Bruntwood asked Knutsford Town Council to formally support its proposals for Booths Park by writing a letter to a government inspector who is considering the Cheshire East Local Plan.
More than 40 members of the public filed into Monday’s meeting, where the item was to be discussed, and six people volunteered to speak out about their concerns.
The main concerns highlighted by the speakers was the impact on the existing residents’ quality of life and property value, impact on agriculture and community, livelihood of farmers, lack of ‘logistic’ public consultation, and the fact that the site is not a preferred site of the local plan.
“The local plan was achieved through consultation, negotiation and hard bargaining between stakeholders and this application seems to have arrived by parachute,” said Brian Chaplin, a representative of South Knutsford Community Group.
The news comes after Booths Park owner Bruntwood revealed that it would consider a proposal for new homes to meet the housing need - as highlighted in the Draft Knutsford Town Strategy – following its public consultation on the application for new commercial space at the park.
Feedback from this consultation was used by the developer to start to shape a ‘vision’ for the park – including potential sporting, community and leisure facilities, investment in road improvements and up to 150 new homes.
After the public speakers addressed the council, Clr Stewart Gardiner, who chaired the meeting, invited Bruntwood’s development manager Chris Roberts to speak.
“Our primary interest is in commercial office space and we come to the whole residents debate very, very late – it is not our game and we are not particularly switched on,” said Chris.
“We did have a number of conversations about potential for residential and that’s all we are looking at at the moment – potential. We can’t give details on the scheme as there is no scheme.”
Chris added that the main objective at this stage is to engage the community and hear their views.
He added: “We understand people don’t know what we are thinking about and will have concerns and fears, quite rightly and legitimately.
“Whether it is 150 houses or 2 houses, we just want engagement.”
Town council members spoke briefly on the subject and unanimously agreed that that the town council would not be provide formal support by letter to the inspector.
Bruntwood responds to meeting outcome
Following the meeting, Colin Sinclair, director of property marketing at Bruntwood, said:
"We understand the issues raised by those directly affected neighbours who attended Monday’s meeting about the impact of the value on their houses and the issue of access. We are pleased that we have heard their concerns so we can work on addressing these.
“We were also not surprised that the committee could not endorse our plan as they have to stand by the local plan that they have already agreed. That plan did not include Booths Park, and the current proposal of only 10% of the land has not yet been considered by Cheshire East Council.
“The proposal for 150 homes is not necessarily in addition to the 650 homes earmarked by Cheshire East Council. The strategic sites currently in the plan would create 500 homes, and we believe Booths Park is the best site to ensure the 650 minimum figure needed is achieved."