CHESHIRE East has granted ‘permission in principle’ for an affordable housing scheme at Alderley Edge after being told concerns about flood risk and highway dangers had to be ignored at this stage.

The council’s northern planning committee voted by seven to four to grant the ‘permission in principle’ for up to nine affordable homes on green belt land adjoining Jenny Heyes at Heyes Lane.

Planning officer Paul Wakefield told councillors this application varied from most, in that what was being considered today (Wednesday) was the first stage in the process to establish whether the site was suitable in principle.

The detailed proposals would be assessed if, and when, a later application was submitted.

He told the committee: “With the application we’ve got today, the scope of it is limited to consideration of its location, the land use and the amount of development.”

The council’s planners had recommended the application be approved because it was for 100 per cent affordable housing to serve an identified local need, meaning it qualified as an exception to inappropriate development in the green belt.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Jon NewellCllr Jon Newell (Image: Wilmslow Town Council)

Five objectors spoke against it, including Wilmslow town councillor Jon Newell who told the committee: “There are other solutions to deliver affordable housing which could be considered, without putting pressure on the green belt.

“To allow this development could potentially set a disastrous precedent.”

He was one of several objectors who argued there were brownfield sites which should be developed before green belt.

Mr Wakefield later said sites which had been suggested by the objectors had already been discounted for various reasons.

Committee member Michael Gorman (Wilmslow, Ind) said there was very strong local opposition to the proposal.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Michael GormanCllr Michael Gorman (Image: Cheshire East Council)

“What is the point of neighbourhood plans, all that activity , all that discussion, all that focus, if we don’t take account of them,” he asked.

He also argued the site is not sustainable and ‘from a pedestrian point of view, it’s completely dangerous’.

And he said there was a flooding problem and told how he had recently helped nearby residents mop out two feet of water that had gone into their houses from the brook.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Nick MannionCllr Nick Mannion (Image: Cheshire East Council)

But Macclesfield councillor Nick Mannion (Lab) said affordable housing was desperately needed.

“There are currently more than 10,000 people and families on the Cheshire Home Choice waiting list, yet little more than 1,000 properties become available every year,” he said.

Cllr Mannion said he had been on planning committees since 2015 and this was the first ‘permission in principle’ application he had seen.

He added: “I will be happy to support the officer’s recommendation [to approve] because the devil will be in the detail when the full application comes forward and, if that can’t satisfy the committee with regard to things like drainage and access, we’ll refuse it, but that’s not what we’re here to consider today.”

He later proposed the application be approved and this was seconded by Cllr Fiona Wilson (Macclesfield, Lab).

Cllr Anthony Harrison (Chelford, Con) said he could not support the proposal because it wasn’t very special circumstances.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Tony DeanCllr Tony Dean (Image: Cheshire East Council)

But Knutsford councillor Tony Dean (Con) said: “Our view on that [special circumstances] has been taken out of the equation, because the government has said this particular situation is a special circumstance - and that is affordable homes.”

The committee granted permission in principle but all matters, including flood risk, access and highways issues will have to be considered if a future, more detailed application is submitted.