PLANS to build three large storage buildings in the open countryside close to the M6 at Holmes Chapel have been refused.

The owners of Cotton Farm wanted to construct the buildings, which would be sub-divided into seven units, on land off Middlewich Road, close to junction 18.

But the council’s planning officer argued there is no evidence the scheme required a countryside location and it was a speculative development.

The applicant’s agent, Rachel Thornley agent, told Wednesday’s meeting of Cheshire East’s southern planning committee: “The council has already granted permission to extend the business in 2019 and the applicants are now simply looking to expand the number of buildings on the estate so they can levy a greater income than they’ve been able to from the open air storage part of the site.

“This isn’t a speculative development. It’s an informed proposal that’s market-led based on professional advice and discussion with existing tenants, two of whom have expressed their desire to move into the larger premises if they are developed on site.”

She added: “In 2019 the case officer didn’t feel it necessary to assess if the countryside location was essential. A senior officer signed off that decision. I’ve seen no material change in circumstances that would warrant arriving at different conclusion now and to do so would be failing to determine similar cases in a consistent manner.”

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Brian BathCllr Brian Bath (Image: Holmes Chapel Parish Council)

Holmes Chapel parish councillor Brian Bath said the parish council was ‘shocked and dismayed’ Cheshire East’s highways officers had not objected because of the access/exit to the site.

“It’s less than 200m from the junction of the M6. It comes out on to an unrestricted road in terms of speed limits,” he said.

Highways officer Andrew Goligher told the committee: “Athough it’s a fast moving road, there’s plenty of visibility and there’s no reason to think that it won’t continue to operate safely as it has done with existing units.”

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Andrew KolkerCllr Andrew Kolker (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Ward councillor Andrew Kolker (Con) said: “I was a little surprised that highways didn’t have a negative opinion on this because it really is a fast road. They come sweeping off the motorway at J18 and there’s no speed restrictions. It is a really dangerous exit on to that main road at such speed.”

He then proposed the application be refused, saying: “This is inappropriate development in the open countryside. It is the creation of an industrial estate where it is allocated as open countryside.”

The committee voted unanimously to refuse it on three grounds including  encroachment into the open countryside and it being a speculative form of development which does not require a countryside location.