Woodside Golf Club's grand plan scuppered by planning board

Knutsford Guardian: Woodside Golf Club's grand plan scuppered by planning board Woodside Golf Club's grand plan scuppered by planning board

A GOLF Club’s grand plan to build a hotel, seven houses and sporting facilities in Cranage has been thwarted.

Woodside Golf Club, on Knutsford Road, submitted plans to Cheshire East to build an on-site 27-bedroom hotel with six detached suites, multi-use games facility and bowling green, outdoor gym and play area, and an enabling development of seven houses.

At a meeting of the Strategic Planning Board on May 28, members voted in favour of the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse and rejected the application.

Before making their decision, committee members heard from a number of public speakers, who all spoke in favour of the development.

First to address the board was ward councillor Les Gilbert, who highlighted how the development would benefit Cheshire East visitor economy by boosting the number of staying visitors.

Cranage Parish Councillor John Halstead was next to speak and said he was ‘amazed’ by the officers’ reasons for refusal.

“I’m all for preserving open countryside, but this is not open and hardly countryside,” he said.

“It is hardly isolated when 50 houses and facilities are in easy walking distance. The site, by any stretch of the imagination, can’t be described as isolated.”

Clr Halstead added that the development had the support of both the parish council and the community. In excess of 200 letters were submitted by the public, with the majority in support of the application.

After hearing from the applicant and his agent, the floor opened up for debate and at first, the application gained considerable support from members, with a vote to approve moved by Clr John Hammond.

“They all want it,” said Clr Hammond. “I’m for it if the parish is for it.”

Clr Brendan Murphy echoed Clr Hammond’s views and said that the board was there to serve the public.

Clr Phil Hoyland said: “It seems ludicrous to me a whole community is saying ‘this is what we want’ that we should turn it down.”

Officer Sheila Dillon pointed out to members’ that the concern was to do with whether or not it was an enabling development.

“It seems to me the very heart of the enabling development argument is missing here,” she said.

“These are community facilities are not needed according to the evidence before you.”

Officer Susan Orrell added: “The problem stems from the houses, they can’t be regarded as an enabling development.”

After hearing from the officers, Clr Hammond retracted his move to approve.

Subsequently a vote was moved to refuse the application, with seven voting in favour, Clr Murphy and Clr Paul Edwards voting against, and abstentions from Clr Hoyland and Clr Lesley Smetham.

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