2014 July: Cheadle Unite Response to SMDC Regarding Housing Proposals 1/3
Principal Planning Officer
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
ST13 6HQ 28th July 2014
Comments on Planning application for Housing Development in Cheadle East
Cheadle Unite have been made aware by residents of Thorley Drive that a planning application has been made to build 190 properties In Cheadle East (South of Thorley Drive). While we understand that you are inviting ‘comments’ (via placement of a very small advert in a local paper) our understanding is that this is not a consultation (we have received no direct notification) and there are no site notices around Cheadle East. We have therefore posted this housing application on our website www.cheadleunite.co.uk but have not extensively contacted residents around Cheadle.
We are clear from growing numbers of residents over the last 5 years that excessive housing development around Cheadle is considered wholly inappropriate. Expectations exist that the areas removed from the Core Strategy will remain off the planning map. It is a simple fact of reality that when SMDC agreed to abandon the South West Distributor link road as detailed in the ‘Local Transport Plan for Staffordshire’ (2000) affecting areas 4 & 5, that SMDC were in effect leaving only area 1 (North) as a potential development site unless residents could be convinced that alternative areas were more appropriate. This has not happened and in effect the objections to building in Cheadle East were very high when proposed.
Infrastructure in Cheadle cannot cope with significant development. There is increased potential for flooding around Cheadle and Tean if building is allowed on Greenfield sites. Any increase in risk is not acceptable especially when Brownfield site alternatives in the Potteries exist with proven drainage capability. The abandoned South West distributor link road would have linked ‘A’ roads (A522 & A521) and offered some level of alternate route around Cheadle. Development in Cheadle East would have to use minor ‘B’ roads (e.g. the B5032) and ultimately would feed traffic into the town where there are already significant flow problems along the A522 (Tean Road) and Tape Street. Catalytic converters produce substantially increased toxic fumes for the first 15 minutes until they reach temperature (which would certainly apply for traffic from new properties in Cheadle East log jammed through Cheadle) and toxic chemicals if they are damaged (which is easily done). It is not acceptable to promote increased health and safety risks to residents and our Children as they walk to school. Health concerns include increased stress from needless additional houses where there is inadequate infrastructure.
Apart from Area 1, areas in the South West scored the highest sustainability assessment. It was not and is not reasonable for SMDC to expect residents around Cheadle to accept housing in areas that are less sustainable. Delays in securing an effective Core Strategy are not attributable to the vast majority of Cheadle residents. It will therefore not be acceptable to very many residents for housing applications to be approved in areas outside of Brownfield areas or the areas with the highest sustainability assessments (that have been carried out at great time and cost), during a lack of agreed Core Strategy. To be clear all residents around Cheadle have a genuine right to oppose housing and there is little evidence that any particular areas welcome development on anything other than Brownfield sites. This is a very reasonable stance given the extensive Brownfield wasteland that exists around the Potteries. Previous representations from Cheadle Unite and Residents still stand as part of our comments. SMDC have copies of these for reference.
Residents unfortunately have low confidence in SMDC listening to their opinions at this time, following numerous representations aimed at securing a fair deal for Cheadle and the most effective strategy for what we believe is real sustainability and for what we feel is a lack of an effective response. Our focus is and always has been on securing development on Brownfield sites around Cheadle and our local city Stoke-on-Trent and the Potteries and on minimal impact to residents on limited Greenfield sites. By and large residents accept Area 1 for development given its historic rating as the most sustainable development area in Cheadle. Our concerns extend beyond housing. For example we believe that the majority of Cheadle residents wish to protect businesses around the town and the identity of Cheadle and do not want to see large scale retail development and a ‘Chain Store’ clone town. Cheadle is making progress through difficult times with growing numbers at regular events and great tourism potential for the town as the economy recovers. However the Core Strategy still talks of growth for sustainability when the two words are in direct conflict in an overpopulated planet. We have written to Bill Cash MP in the hope that he can intervene (Letter attached. Please consider the contents of the letter as an extension of our ‘comments’).
Recently we have written to Cheadle Councillors and via feedback from them and residents believe we have broad support of the Town Council and our Councillors as well as very significant support from Residents around Cheadle, for a significant reduction in housing allocation for Cheadle.
However Cllr Stephen Ellis infers that SMDC are largely tied by Planning Inspector expectations. Cllr Ellis in a letter to Cheadle Unite stated:
‘from a planning inspector viewpoint, it would require SMDC to demonstrate why an under-allocation was appropriate – which, given our lack of applications, our lack of approvals, a longer planning period coupled and an established and identified need shown to and approved by an inspector … it’s just impossible’.
Cheadle Unite are not happy at the prospect of SMDC and any Councillors blaming National Planning Policy and the Planning Inspector unless SMDC are willing to write directly to our MP Bill Cash and the Housing Minster (Brandon Lewis MP) or the Secretary of State (Eric Pickles MP) stating that SMDC believe they do not have sufficient powers to prevent building properties in lower scoring sustainability areas of Cheadle and that they cannot reduce the housing allocation numbers for Cheadle and to copy that letter to Cheadle Unite and other local interest groups.
When we met with John Healey MP the then Labour government housing minister on the 4th April 2010, it was made clear to us that the then Regional Spatial Strategy (which encompassed the Potteries and Cheadle, now abolished) had flexibility to ensure regeneration took precedent over housing allocation and numbers could be reduced for Cheadle (hence the term regional strategy).