Fresh battle over village homes drive

Kelsall action group wait anxiously for decision which could seal fate of village

Rob Stratford
Members of Kelsall Residents Action Group are desperately hoping a renewed application to build a housing estate in the village will be rejected

An action group fears yet another bid to bring more houses into their village will tear the heart out of the community.

For the past three years, residents in Kelsall have been battling plans by various developers to build large housing schemes on their doorstep.

A number of them set up the Kelsall Residents Action Group to show their unanimous opposition to the proposals.

Since then, many community members have given up hours of their time to work towards developing a neighbourhood plan, consulting residents and coming up with proactive and sustainable ways they can develop the village.

But as 140 homes have already been approved, with dozens more applications in the pipeline, their campaign was given a boost last month after an appeal to the national planning inspectorate by Rowland Homes to build an 11-home housing estate on Willington Lane was unanimously rejected.

The scheme had already been unanimously rejected by Cheshire West councillors who labelled it ‘a five-bedroomed ghetto’.

To the community’s delight, in rejecting the appeal, inspectors ruled that Rowland’s design would be ‘too cramped and congested’ and ‘out of context with its surroundings.’

But their joy was short-lived as another developer, Elan Homes, took over from Rowland, and submitted their own application to build 14 homes on the same site.

Rob Stratford The site in Kelsall where plans for a large housing scheme have been resubmitted
The site in Kelsall where plans for a large housing scheme have been resubmitted
 

Just weeks later, Elan appeared to respond to the inspector’s comments by removing just one house from the proposed scheme on Willington Lane.

The action group has once again managed to get the application called in to planning committee, and residents had until Tuesday this week to submit their comments.

They now face an anxious wait to see if all their hard work has been in vain, as they wait for the planning comittee’s next meeting to decide Kelsall’s fate.

Chris Spray, chairman of Kelsall Residents Action Group told The Chronicle: “This situation has been going on for nearly four years now. All we want is a scheme that’s sensitive to the area.

“We’ve already had nearly three quarters of Kelsall’s 10-year quota of housing approved in just three, and with other villages having been inundated with new housing – we fear our village is going to end up turned into a vanilla urban town without the supporting infrastructure.”

“We’re not against development, we are pro-development; what we are against is fast, unthought-through development that doesn’t deliver the mix of housing and infrastructure that we know our village needs.

“The fact the inspectors refused  Rowland’s application is a victory for the  democratic process – that organised residents can actually have a voice in what they want their village to look  like.”

Mr Spray added: “It was a ground- breaking and precedent-setting decision because the inspectors commented on the poor design.

“We should be using this precedent to press for sensitive and truly sustainable  schemes throughout Cheshire.

“These are important considerations that shouldn’t just be about finance and profit, it’s about the long-term sustainability of our communities.”

And Mr Spray said he doesn’t understand why Elan Homes is simply ‘rehashing’ the original scheme by Rowland with their latest submission, which was deemed unsuitable.

“We believe the amended application from Elan does not resolve the concerns that the planning inspectorate raised in their decision,” he said.

“There are too many houses, they are cramped together.  Many of the gardens are tiny and there is no green space at all. This scheme is just a rehash of Rowlands and continues to be speculative.

“We’re thankful our councillor, John Leather, has called this application into committee should the planners be again minded to approve it, and we are just  desperately hoping for the result we want.”

At the time of going to press, a date for the meeting had not been set.

 

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