TATTON Estate’s changes to its Bluebell Village housing plans in Knutsford have failed to win over councillors.

Land is earmarked off Manchester Road for up to 300 homes and a village centre with local shops and facilities, including space for GPs and dentists.

Town councillors voted in September to recommend Cheshire East Council reject the outline planning application.

They said the site included land identified as protected open space, the scheme sought permission for uses not compatible with housing, the number of homes proposed was at odds with the maximum proposed by the Local Plan and the plan was premature by not providing access details.

Tatton has submitted an amended scheme in response to concerns raised by various groups, including the adjacent sports clubs, which excludes most of the land occupied by Knutsford Sports Club and Knutsford FC.

The changes follow consultation responses from residents, the town council, local sports clubs, Sport England and Cheshire FA, who raised concerns about the potential impact of the scheme on current sports facilities.

Meetings have been held with Cheshire FA, Knutsford FC and Knutsford Sports Club to discuss their concerns.

Despite the changes the town council’s planning committee voted on Monday to again recommend refusal of the scheme, supporting Cllr Stewart Gardiner’s motion for calling for it to be rejected.

He said there was inadequate detail to consider the appropriateness of the access, the suggested non-housing uses did not comply with the spirit of what was approved by the Local Plan, there was insufficient detail about additional non-residential uses, and the application was therefore premature.

Sebastian Tibenham, a planning agent for Tatton, told the meeting: “We have been working hard with the sports clubs to try and come to a suitable solution, and also want to work with the town council in terms of making sure Knutsford has the best available facilities for the town.

“If this application is secured the football club gets a 30-year lease. With that the club can go and get additional funding to expand and improve the facilities.

“That could come about through a legal agreement attached to this planning permission.

“We feel it would be beneficial for this site to have a mix of uses on it, to generate jobs and ensure local residents on this site can access day-to-day services on site.”

Knutsford FC chairman Jimmy Evans said: “Whilst we have held constructive discussions with the applicant, and are potentially prepared to make some compromises, concerns, clarification and guarantees remain unresolved, so we are obliged to maintain our objection.”

Cllr Peter Coan said he was concerned that under the scheme ‘half the frontage’ onto Manchester Road, an important approach to Knutsford, could be taken up by commercial premises.

The application is an outline scheme, with all matters reserved for future approval, for a residential-led mixed use development, including a local centre.

Cllr Gardiner was concerned about the potential for the proposed non-residential uses to affect the viability of town centre because of their proximity to it.

Brian Chaplin, speaking on behalf of local community groups, said there had been some improvements to the application, but it was still inconsistent with the Local Plan strategy.

Annette McDonald, deputy managing director of the Tatton Group said: “Since starting to work with the Tatton Estate three months ago I have been struck by the huge amount the Tatton Estate does and is seeking to do to support communities in and around Knutsford.

“The Estate already provides Knutsford Sports Club, the Football Club, two bowling clubs and the Heritage Centre. This application would directly fund hundreds of thousands of pounds for enhanced sporting facilities, GPs and school places.

“Whilst we are disappointed at a number of misunderstandings at planning committee - for example their not being aware the A50 will be reduced to 40mph - we are pleased to see the recognition by members and the public of how this delivers on the requirements of the Local Plan to secure new homes with a local centre at their heart and infrastructure.

“Had time permitted, we would have explained the ethos around some of the specific uses.

“We are conscious that Knutsford, the home of Henry Royce, has recently lost both Rolls Royce and McLaren due to lack of space.

“A small but high-profile occupier like these are important in lending the town significant cachet and attracting footfall that supports local traders and businesses.

“Knutsford has waited decades and still has no purpose-built medical facilities. This is unacceptable and unsustainable with the future pressures on the NHS, and it is essential we all work together to ensure something is delivered urgently, rather than waiting forever for a site that is ‘perfect’, but so far has been impossible to identify, let alone deliver.

“The mix of uses are ‘either/or’, not ‘both/and’ and as such the precise mix of development will be determined through future reserved matters application.

“Comments from our consultation very strongly emphasise the affordability issues young and old alike face and Bluebell Village has been allocated in Cheshire East’s local plan to deliver new homes, at least 75 of which will be provided as affordable housing subsidised by the Estate.

“This current second consultation is for changes we have made, listening carefully to feedback and acting to addressing concerns for example regarding the sports clubs that the Estate already provides and protects.

“This is only an ‘outline’ application - points of detail will be addressed in a subsequent ‘reserved matters’ process which will include matters of layout, design and access.

“Even at this early stage this outline application is already something the Estate are very proud of, being the only proposal to meet so many of Knutsford’s needs, or to create a proper, mixed-use community - rather that the facility-free housing estates and out of town shopping centres seen across the country.

“We are most grateful for the support from so many to date and look forward to delivering something ultimately everyone will take pride in and benefit from.”