GREEN Belt campaigners have warned planning authorities that too much housing could destroy Cheshire’s precious rural landscape.
The Government has given its backing for an extra 2,700 more homes to be built across West Cheshire to help tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the area, particularly concentrating on derelict and brownfield sites.
The announcement follows a joint bid submitted by Chester City Vale Royal and Ellesmere Port and Neston borough councils and means a total of 14,553 can be built in West Cheshire over the next eight years including the extra 2,700 homes.
The Government invited bids for New Growth Point Status from all authorities in England as part of its objective to increase the number of houses in the country by 2016, especially in areas of fast economic growth, such as the West Cheshire sub region.
The bid highlighted the potential for new housing in the West Cheshire area and the abundance of available brownfield sites. The new housing will be linked to existing and new employment sites with improved transport provision and will lead to an increase in the number of new homes provided over the next nine years.
Chester is considered the heart of the sub region, with a concentration of highly-skilled workers and a cluster of financial and business services making it an important growth area significantly contributing to the economy of the North West.
However The Campaign to Protect Rural England CPRE has called on all councils to strike a careful balance between housing needs and sustaining Green Belt land.
Ann Jones Chester CPRE planning co-ordinator explained: “The exceptionally large housing allocation for Chester proposed by the Regional Plan together with the Government’s selection of Chester as a Growth Point, will require Chester to build over 9,000 new houses.
“Extreme pressure is likely to be placed on The Green Belt around the City, its rural villages and other green spaces.
“This reverses the long established policy of protecting the Nationally and Internationally recognised Chester as a historic city by policies upheld and endorsed by Planning Inspectors and previous Secretaries of State who were concerned that making excessive demands on Chester for development could endanger its character.”
Cheshire CPRE press officer Claire Lewis added: “It’s not just about housing it’s all the infrastructure and services that will come with it. There really needs to be a balance.”