Community leaders are concerned about the impact of more houses at Saighton Camp because of fears over flooding and traffic gridlock.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee last week gave the go-ahead in principle for Redrow Homes to build 266 homes on part of the former Army camp where 952 houses will be built altogether.
The application will see an extra 100 homes on this particular plot compared with a previous approval.
Controversially, councillors voted before the public consultation period had expired. This action was taken because an appeal has been lodged against the council on a similar duplicate application on grounds it failed to make a decision in time. CWaC is keen to see the appeal withdrawn because of the potential costs involved.
However, the final decision has been left with Fiona Hore, senior manager, planning and strategic transport, who promised the scheme would be brought back before the committee should any significant issues arise.
Huntington parish councillor Jacky Creswick, who described the unusual procedure as ‘naughty’, spoke against the plans at the committee. She feels the various developers’ interests involved with Saighton Camp have held sway in the face of community concerns.
Talking about Saighton Camp as a whole, she said: “We are disappointed. We think ‘the developer’ has wielded too much influence over the area.”
She added: “We are very concerned about the traffic implications relating to the whole of the new development and we are concerned about the sewage and drainage but given we are where we are, we would like residents of the whole area to have an input, via a working group, into how the lump sum – or what’s left of it – that was set aside for soft travel measures, is spent.”
'A good deal'
Daniel Jackson, who represented the developers, said the plan represented ‘a good deal’ for CWaC and reaffirmed Redrow’s commitment to providing quality homes. A full contribution of £418,000 was now being made to help pay for the education of children who would live there. More but smaller houses suited the current market and were ‘more affordable’ than large executive homes.
Committee member Cllr Jill Houlbrook (Con, Upton) raised concerns the 1930s drainage system couldn’t cope already and that sewage periodically overflowed into the gardens of residents who live in the original village of Huntington.
However, planning officer Steve Lewis said Welsh Water had looked at mitigation measures, including a pumping station and storage tanks, and was now ‘satisfied the scheme will work’.
Cllr Keith Board (Con, Great Boughton) said local residents had ‘great concerns’ about transport issues and the amount of traffic using Caldy Valley Road at certain times was ‘horrendous’ with ‘huge queues backed up from the roundabout’. Increased occupation of the site could only 'make the situation worse'.
But highways officer Paul Parry said the overall impact of the application, because of changes on other parts of the site, amounted to increase of 59 homes compared with what had already received approval and so the effect was ‘minimal’.
In a statement issued later, CWaC explained why the application was dealt with before the consultation period had expired.
Cllr Don Beckett, chairman of the planning committee, said: “The application considered by the planning committee on February 2 is similar to the previous application which is the subject of an appeal, but additional information had been provided to overcome the previous planning objections.
“In order to minimise the determination timescale of the ‘duplicate’ application and, if approved, to enable the withdrawal of the ongoing appeal at the earliest opportunity, the current application was reported to the first available planning committee.
“The officer report advised the committee of all of the representations received in relation to the current application, as well as those made in relation to the previous similar application.
“The planning committee decided that, subject to no new planning issues being raised during the remainder of the consultation period, and the decision then being delegated to the senior manager, planning and strategic transport, that the application should be approved with the recommended section 106 legal agreement and conditions."