AN APPLICATION to bulldoze storage buildings at Oakwood Nurseries near Knutsford to make way for housing has been approved.

Cheshire East’s northern planning committee voted nine to one in favour of the proposal on land at Chelford Road, Ollerton, despite one councillor vehemently arguing the development would change the nature and the openness of the greenbelt in that particular area.

According to the written report from Cheshire East’s planning officer, the scheme was for 10 houses – and that number was referred to more than half a dozen times in the report.

But planning officer Paul Wakefield told the committee at Macclesfield on Wednesday he needed to stress what was being applied for ‘because the report might lead you a different way’.

Knutsford Guardian: The meeting took place at Macclesfield Town HallThe meeting took place at Macclesfield Town Hall (Image: Google)

“There’s no fixed number of dwellings proposed, it’s just for a replacement for residential development. We do have indicative plans that have been provided with the application, but they’re purely indicative,” he said.

The applicant’s agent, Jill Naylor, told councillors the site wasn’t a garden centre or nursery but was now mainly occupied by warehouses, some light industrial and the associated surface areas and car parking.

She said the proposal would improve the appearance of the site with more green space and planting ‘giving a softer integration of buildings into the context of the surrounding countryside’.

“A sensitively designed residential scheme would provide a less densely packed mass of buildings and reduce hardstanding throughout the site,” said the agent, adding residential use would also generate fewer vehicle movements.

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

Cllr Andrew Kolker (Dane Valley, Con) said he was inclined to follow the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the scheme.

“The council is often criticised for building on greenfield sites where we’ve got brownfield sites available, so this is a brownfield site… it’s previously developed land,” he said.

Macclesfield councillor Nick Mannion (Lab) proposed the application be approved and said the site was well screened, previously used ‘and it does appear to be quite a high quality development’.

But Cllr Ken Edwards (Bollington, Lab) disagreed, saying: “I do think this is a very significant development, although modest.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Ken EdwardsCllr Ken Edwards (Image: Cheshire East Council)

“The green belt is a very, very significant protected structure and it seems to me a real step in undermining that structure if you put a small isolated settlement of housing in the midst of an open, green area."

He added: “I think this development… will act as a core of changing that area forever and I think everyone round here knows it. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

He proposed it be refused but committee chair David Jefferay said the proposal to approve had been seconded.

The committee approved outline permission for access and for the demolition of the existing commercial buildings and the construction of new dwellings on the site.

The number of houses, design, layout and landscaping will be considered at a later date when the reserved matters application is submitted.