Local MP David Rutley has joined local residents in calling on Cheshire East Council’s strategic planning board to reject two major planning applications.
The applications are for a housing development to the north and south of Chelford Road, on the west side of Macclesfield, in view of ongoing concerns about air quality management and inadequate infrastructure plans.
Following the publication of the Cheshire East Local Plan last year, which is intended to guide housing development in the borough up until 2030, two planning applications (17/4034M and 17/4277M) have been submitted for the development of around 400 houses on either side of Chelford Road (A537) which is a key strategic route into the town.
The area of Broken Cross is already recognised as an air quality management area (AQMA), and Mr Rutley along with many local residents, members of the Save Macclesfield Green Belt group and Henbury Parish Council have strong concerns that existing air quality issues would be exacerbated by the proposed developments, if approved.
Henbury parish councillors have written to the strategic planning board, saying: “Henbury Parish Council are strongly opposed to this development, along with the two other planning applications on adjacent sites which are scheduled to be heard at different meetings.”
They added: “We strongly believe there are major issues… which mean that it is not appropriate for Cheshire East to approve this application at this time.
“Further work is necessary to understand the consequences of this, and other developments, on the Broken Cross AQMA and indeed the whole of Macclesfield.”
David Rutley said that he has regularly raised concerns about air quality in this area with Cheshire East Council, which said that it is taking steps to improve and implement action plans for AQMAs, including at Broken Cross.
Cheshire East currently has 18 areas where pollution levels exceed UK limits and the council asserts that improving this is a key priority for the authority.
The council has an air quality action plan, which has been in place since 2011. However, with the increased number of AQMAs in Cheshire East, the council says it has recognised there is a need to review its current plan.
MP David Rutley believes that these action plans should be established before any applications for development are approved in sensitive areas such as those around Macclesfield.
As well as concerns about air quality, David and local residents highlighted further issues, including the proposed replacement of the Broken Cross roundabout with traffic lights and how this would affect the flow of vehicles through the area.
There are concerns over the cumulative impact on traffic flow that will be brought about by the two applications, along with a third application (18/0294M) on the same road, and the impact of traffic flow from the King’s School development.
Further concerns were also raised regarding the lack of consideration given to wider infrastructure needs – the number of additional school places in the area that would be required as a result of the developments, and the loss of biodiversity on important wildlife sites.
The proposed development site includes part of the Cock Wood Local Wildlife Site, which would be affected by the development.
Henbury Parish Council said: “Mitigation is not provided for the habitat loss that would occur with the planned layout.”
Cheshire Wildlife Trust commented: “Within the NPPF sustainable development is viewed as moving from a ‘net loss of biodiversity to achieving net gains for nature’. The current proposals do not appear to be producing a net gain for nature.”
Two meetings of the strategic planning board are scheduled to take to discuss the plans. These take place tomorrow (Wednesday 28th March) and on Wednesday 4th April.
Speaking ahead of these, David Rutley said: “I am pleased to add my voice to those of many residents in South West Macclesfield, as well as members of Henbury Parish Council and Save Macclesfield Green Belt group, who are calling on Strategic Planning Board members to reject these applications until there has been a more thorough review of the air quality management issues in Broken Cross.
“This area is an important gateway into the town and it is vital that the necessary time is taken to fully consider pressing air quality issues and other infrastructure concerns before moving forward.
“I will continue to actively work with local residents’ groups and Henbury Parish Council, working cross-party with the community, in the weeks and months ahead on this vital issue.”