ENFORCEMENT action could be taken by Cheshire East Council over controversial hardstanding installed in a field.

Villagers are demanding the hardstanding and a six-foot high security fence at land off Moss Lane in Mobberley are removed and the site reinstated to a field.

Dozens of villagers wrote to Cheshire East to express their anger at the work which has taken place.

They are suspicious the site may be turned into a travellers’ site or airport parking, and opposed an application to vary a condition of plans approved in November 2017 for the building of a stable block on the site and changing its use to equestrian.

Chris Dring sought approval from Cheshire East to reword a condition to amend the approved site plan to show an area of temporary hardstanding.

The application by Mr Dring was refused by planning officers yesterday (Wednesday).

The council said the application, which had been recommended for refusal by Cheshire East planning officer Matthew Keen, represented inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

Mr Keen said: “The scale and appearance of the hardstanding, together with the large security fence give the appearance of an industrial site, totally out of character with the rural location.”

Charlotte Leach, Cheshire East councillor for Mobberley said: “I am delighted that this application has now been refused.

“It isn’t clear if the applicant is intending on appealing the decision, but Cheshire East Council is now conducting an enforcement investigation in relation to the hardstanding currently on the site.

“I am hopeful that the site can be returned to its original condition as soon as possible, and will be keeping a close eye on the situation as things progress.”

Mr Keen said in his report that the land was formerly a mown grass field, and had recently been covered in hardstanding and was the subject of an enforcement investigation.

He added that the hedgerow had been removed and replaced with a 1.8-metre green security fence.

Mr Keen said the application for the temporary hardstanding had not been justified, and the application had resulted in a ‘significant encroachment of a built form’ into the countryside.

He said the land was in the Green Belt, and the hardstanding constituted an engineering operation.

National planning policies stated that engineering operations were not inappropriate in the Green Belt, he said, provided they preserved openness and did not conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.

He added: “The proposal is clearly inappropriate development due to the significant encroachment into the countryside, and no justification has been put forward in regards to the need of such an excessive area.

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“Although not included in the application, a large permanent security fence of the type found in industrial developments has been erected on site.

“This fence divides the site in half, preventing easy access from the northern part of the site to the south.

“No justification or mention of this element has been put forward, and the presence would impact on the ability of the horses to graze the whole site.

Almost 50 residents wrote to the council to oppose the application, saying the hardstanding and fence were more suited to an industrial area and were clearly meant for a different purpose.

The application was also opposed by Mobberley Parish Council, which said the works which had taken place at the field were retrospective, and were so much more than a variation of the 2017 planning approval.

The council said: “We see no justification for any of the retrospective works, and find it totally implausible that the applicant states that temporary hardstanding to this scale is required to build three stables and a tack room.”