PLANS for a retirement complex at Alderley Park were refused after councillors argued existing residents shouldn’t have to put up with a seven-storey block to fund a science park development.

Cheshire East planning officers had recommended approval of the proposal for a single integrated retirement community with 159 extra care units, associated healthcare and swimming pool, at Heatherley Woods.

The officers had acknowledged the proposal was ‘finely balanced’ with many factors counting against it.

But profits from the development were to be ploughed into a new build proposed for the life science sector at Alderley Park and the officers had concluded: “The delivery of life science employment uses and the wider economic benefits tip the balance in favour of supporting this application.”

Members of the strategic planning board (SPB) didn’t agree and on Wednesday unanimously refused the scheme.

The SPB heard from the developer’s agent, Conor Vallelly, that the proposal would provide ‘high quality accommodation, with significant health and social benefits, allowing older people to retain independence for longer, enhancing quality of life and reducing pressure on the NHS’.

He added: “This proposal represents a final opportunity for a critical injection of enabling funds to be secured by legal agreements to deliver new life science buildings delivering up to 1,600 new jobs. This is a key next step for the park, helping to secure status as a world class life sciences centre.”

He said the development would also provide funding towards 24 key worker homes at Alderley Park.


Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Paul FindlowCllr Paul Findlow (Image: Cheshire East Council)

The SPB heard from visiting councillor Paul Findlow (Prestbury, Con) the local plan had agreed 200-300 residential units on Alderley Park, and this would take it to over 400.

“If implemented on the scale envisaged, it will change the character of the parish irrevocably,” said Clr Findlow.

Nether Alderley parish councillor Dave Clark said: “Light pollution is a significant issue already with the Glasshouse and Royal London buildings all being very highly illuminated. The addition of a further seven-storey building will only exacerbate this concerning issue.”

Ellis Mottershead-Crawford, who lives on Alderley Park, said he had bought his family home on the understanding there would be a few dwellings of similar size and a sports field on that site.

“But that has obviously changed to what we've seen today without any direct correspondence,” he said, adding the building was overbearing and would look directly on to his young daughter’s bedroom.


Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Stewart GardinerCllr Stewart Gardiner (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Stewart Gardiner (Knutsford, Con) said he did not see any benefits of the scheme ‘beyond the financials’ for the science park.

“It is not for the people of Nether Alderley to have to put up with the development that is not in their interest merely to facilitate the development of the wider aspirations of that organisation,” said Cllr Gardiner.

He said the proposed facility was ‘clearly over-development’, listed numerous concerns he had with it and moved the application be refused. This was seconded by Cllr Peter Groves.

Cllr Brian Puddicombe (Macclesfield, Lab) said the development clearly would have a dominating impact on the houses on nearby Morris Drive.

He added the life science sector is an extraordinarily profitable sector and ‘as far as I’m concerned big pharma can pay for itself here’.

The application was refused on the grounds there were too many units so it is contrary to the local plan site agreement;  the large scale and mass of the development; the loss of amenity and overlooking on nearby properties and the lack of affordable housing.