CHESHIRE East has deferred an application for two chimney stacks for a medical research company in Macclesfield saying there are some serious questions about what the fumes could contain.

More than 100 residents had objected to the application to build the 14m high chimneys at Peakside House on Tytherington Business Park so the former office building could be used for medical research.

They had questioned whether there could be health implications with the chimneys being sited so close to their homes and a children’s nursery.

Members of the northern planning committee shared their concerns today (Wednesday) and, when planning officers said they didn’t know who would be occupying the building, their concerns grew.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Michael GormanCllr Michael Gorman (Image: Cheshire East Council)Wilmslow councillor Michael Gorman (Ind) said: “I just don't think we've got the information here to be secure on making a judgement.

“We don’t know what’s going to go up the chimney here… And why the secrecy?”… There are some really serious questions to be answered here.”

Earlier in the meeting, the committee heard from ward councillor David Edwardes (Ind) that he had been trying to find out since April who the tenants of the building would be and ‘what comes out of the chimneys’.

“I haven’t really received satisfactory replies to those,” he said.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr David EdwardesCllr David Edwardes (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Steve Edgar (Haslington, Con) said: “I’m having difficulty. I don’t know what the company is, I don’t know what they’re going to be putting in the fume cupboard… How can we approve this if we don’t know what’s going to go up the chimney?”

Poynton councillor Michael Beanland (Con) questioned the air quality assessment which had been provided by the applicant which stated the predicted impact was ‘not significant’.

“Is there an independent assessment of that assessment?” he asked.

Planning officer Paul Wakefield told him: “Our environmental protection team have reviewed the air quality assessment and they’re satisfied with what has been submitted.”

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr David JefferayCllr David Jefferay (Image: Cheshire East Council)But committee chair David Jefferay (Wilmslow, Ind) said: “I have the same concern that they’ve just taken the word of the applicant’s assessment.”

He later added: “I’ve got grave concerns about this being so close to the nursery and we haven’t got information on what’s coming out of it.”

Bollington councillor Ken Edwards (Lab) proposed the application be refused.

“We've heard about this acetone, but we don't know the acetone is the most dangerous substance,” he said.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Ken EdwardsCllr Ken Edwards (Image: Cheshire East Council)“Fume cupboards presumably produce their fumes and they go into the chimney. Well if there’s a mixture of things, how do we know the way they combine and so forth and are distributed into the atmosphere?”

Cllr Nick Mannion (Macclesfield, Lab) said he thought the application should be deferred for more information rather than refused.

He pointed to a paragraph in the report which said the most hazardous substance to be used would be acetone and that, even in the worst case scenario of a spillage simultaneously in all fume cupboards, the impact would ‘negligible’.

“I’d like to hear that from our own in-house expert,” he said, adding: “We owe it to the local community to get the maximum reassurance possible.”

Macclesfield councillor Brian Puddicombe (Lab) said: “I would have liked to see the applicant or the agent here so we could ask them and they could justify what they’re trying to bring to the local economy here.

"At the moment they shouldn’t be surprised if we fail to pass this today.”

The committee was unanimous in its decision to defer the application on the basis there was insufficient information to make a decision, specifically on the air quality situation.