ANGRY Knutsford residents are demanding to know why Cheshire East will be considering the controversial Tatton Bluebell Village application five years after it was first submitted.

The original application for a mixed use development off Manchester Road at Knutsford was submitted by the Tatton Estate in 2018.

In February 2019 the strategic planning board approved an amended scheme, subject to the completion of a legal agreement, for a maximum of 275 new homes, made up of a care home and no more than 250 houses. The scheme also includes shops.

But the legal agreement was never fully agreed so the application did not get final approval.

The North Knutsford Community Group, which is opposed to the scheme, wants to know why the council hasn’t demanded the developer submit a new application.

Knutsford Guardian: The application siteThe application site (Image: North Knutsford Community Group)

A spokesperson for the group told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The application was made in July 2018 and is now over five years old and should have expired.”

He added: “The plan was last reviewed at planning committee in 2019, things have changed a lot since then.

“Mandatory housing targets have been abandoned, the whole economic outlook has drastically changed. Public sector finances are severely limited and unlikely to be able to address current shortcomings in health, education and transport provision, so any further developments such as this are clearly not sustainable.”

The LDRS asked Cheshire East why the council hasn’t requested a new application and what the timeframe is for legal agreements.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Mick WarrenCllr Mick Warren (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Mick Warren, chair of environment and communities, said: “The proposed development is large and complex and subject to a number of detailed legal obligations, before it can proceed.

“It is not unusual for discussions between the council, the applicants and key consultees, to go beyond what might be considered a normal time period, although the council does seek to expedite all planning applications within a reasonable timeframe.

“There have been further complications subsequent to the resolution by strategic planning board to the granting of outline approval including the Covid pandemic, workload pressures on the council’s planning department, changes to the scheme the council is currently dealing with, changes to planning policy and other matters, some of which are in the hands of the applicant.”

He added: “This is a complex application seeking outline permission and therefore has been subject to different conditions than a full planning application.

“We hope to progress this application as soon as possible, once all the outstanding matters are resolved so it can be reconsidered by committee.”

A spokesperson for the Tatton Estate said the process had been delayed initially by family bereavements.

He said there had also been various changes to national planning policy and some detailed local plan policies. Different council case officers were also assigned to the application.

“We were advised that a number of technical issues would require further committee sign off before a final decision notice could be issued and the Estate has been working hard to resolve these issues,” said the spokesperson.

Regarding changes, he said: “The changes made to the application largely relate to the reduction in the site boundary. As such, this would not result in any additional impacts on neighbouring properties. The various case officers from Cheshire East Council have confirmed that these changes could be dealt with via updates to the application rather than submission of a new application. We have also submitted new technical information in response to various issues raised by Statutory Consultees such as Natural England and Sports England but this information has not fundamentally changed what the application seeks to achieve.”