PLANS for a major housing development divided Knutsford town councillors this week as the scheme won support by a single vote.

Land east of Parkgate Lane is earmarked for the 234-home Tatton Park Gate Village, and updated detailed plans have been submitted to Cheshire East Council by Tatton Estate and Bellway Homes.

The Tatton Group says the development will provide a range of new homes for local people within easy reach of the town centre and railway station, including accessible and affordable housing, as well as bungalows, to cater for local needs.

However the town council’s planning committee was divided over the scheme, mainly over the number and kind of properties earmarked for the site.

Cllrs James McCulloch and Lesley Dalzell voted against the scheme, councillors Pete Coan and Mike Houghton gave it their support and committee vice-chairman Christopher Gray used his casting vote in favour.

The final say on the application will rest with Cheshire East Council.

Debbie Jamison, representing Knutsford community groups, told the meeting she objected to the application because the 234 proposed homes exceeded the Local Plan allocation for the site of about 200.

Henry Brooks, managing director of Tatton Group, said changes had been made to the scheme by working with the town council and community groups to ‘deliver something better for the community’.

Seventy per cent of the proposed properties were two to three-bedroom, he said, the scheme complied with affordable housing policy and included 50 accessible homes.

He said: “Since we launched the Facebook page a week ago we have been overwhelmed with positive support, and I hope we can work together to deliver something special here.”

Cllr Dalzell wanted to see 200 houses, said plans for only four bungalows were very disappointing as they were in short supply in Knutsford, and it was ‘a shame’ there were no one-bed properties in the scheme.

Mr Brooks said he would speak to Bellway to see if there was an opportunity to provide more bungalows, adding that two-bed properties were likely to be important with more people working from home because of the pandemic.

Cllr Coan said: “I would much rather have 234 houses Knutsford actually needs, which are these smaller houses, than 200 as detailed in the Local Plan, 50 of which would be large houses, of which we have an excess.

“We need to build what the people in Knutsford want to live in, and what we are short of, which is the bungalows and the smaller properties.”

Cllr McCulloch said “One-bed properties are exactly what our young people are looking for.

“They want to stay in Knutsford, live in Knutsford, enjoy employment in Knutsford, and other accommodation isn’t affordable.”

He said it was ‘a crying shame’ more bungalows had not been provided in the scheme, which did not provide for young, particularly single people, older people or those who may be disabled or infirm.

He said the scheme should be 200 homes, and Cllr Dalzell asked Mr Brooks how feasible it was to reduce the figure to 200.

Mr Brooks said: “We have been working extraordinarily hard on this scheme, which has been going on for seven years.

“It’s already a much-reduced number of homes, a much-reduced amount of development and a very fundamentally changed mix.

“We’ve got to a point now where we can’t make any more fundamental changes. You can never please all people all the time.

“We have acted in very good faith and really tried to get something here which is an acceptable compromise.”

Cllr Gray said: “There is lots of things I dislike about the scheme; however the applicant and agent have gone out of their way to appease us as a town council, to comply with national planning practice and to talk to Cheshire East.

“It’s a reasonable scheme, and the country needs housing.”