COUNCILLORS have reaffirmed their objections to a proposed increase in homes at The Crown Estate’s Northwich Road site.

Along with residents and MP Esther McVey, the council voiced concerns over the 49 per cent increase from 175 to up to 260 homes, before plans were deferred by the Cheshire East Council strategic planning board.

The application is still live, and will be discussed by the board early in 2018. The next meeting is on January 31, although no agenda items have yet been confirmed.

The Crown Estate held a consultation this time last year on the plans for 175 homes in Northwich Road, but then in a shock move submitted plans for 260 homes in July.

A spokesman said this was because the land held enough space for 260 homes, but councillors say the Local Plan allocation must be adhered to.

Cllr Tony Dean spoke at the planning meeting, along with residents’ group representative Terry Griffiths, and together they convinced councillors to go against a planning officer’s recommendation to approve plans.

Cllr Dean said: “To immediately go and increase the number of houses by 49 per cent puts the whole Local Plan in the dustbin.

“They say there is a great deal more space than is needed for fewer houses, and there is going to be a continuing argument over how many homes will be built on that land.

“There is also the danger of setting a precedent for other sites in Knutsford.”

Fellow ward member Cllr Stewart Gardiner pointed out that the planning inspector, in approving the Local Plan, had made site allocations based on existing infrastructure. There are fears that Knutsford’s roads would struggle to cope with the additional 85 homes proposed.

He said: “It would be a nail in the coffin for the whole of east Cheshire and the people of Knutsford, who acted very sensibly in the creation of the Local Plan, particularly when we were told we needed 960 homes not 600.

“It’s important that we continue to make these points.”