Wychwood Community Group

Working as a community to stop the development of 900 homes and re-open the Gorstyhill golf course


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Chairman’s Statement – 26th August 2014

As the holidays draw to an end, and as I look out of my window at the pouring rain [when I wrote this], it is time for an update from your hard working committee.

You may have noticed a fair amount of activity on the Golf Course recently, with the fairways and rough being cut, and the resultant waste being bailed, presumably for silage. Haddon seem to be trying to get money back off the course in any way they can, which shows an element of desperation, which is good news. The course from a distance looks much better, however close up the fairways and greens in particular are a real mess, certainly not completely lost as a golf course, although every day it makes life harder for anyone wishing to turn it back to golf course. I notice that even the bricks that formed the patio between the club house and the 9th green have been taken up, again pretty desperate. The cut course does make it more attractive to dog walkers, but please try to refrain from this as we do want to retain, and encourage, any wildlife.

The Examination in Public will shortly be with us, starting on the 15th September and going through to the end of October. We have been unable to get a seat at the table, but have submitted lengthy submissions to both Cheshire East and Weston and Basford Parish Council supporting the non-inclusion of our site, but also supporting the Parish Council’s position on other local developments. Please refer to the Cheshire East site for the latest updates, http://cheshireeast-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/cs/sub1. It appears that the sites around us will be discussed on the 7th and 8th October, at Macclesfield Town Hall, and it is open to the public to attend, and the committee will be there to support Cheshire East and the Parish Council, who will be speaking on those dates.

The Country Park maintenance is still not up to par, and I am working with the Parish Council to provide a dossier of issues which we can escalate through Cheshire East. Haddon has a legal obligation to maintain the park, hedges, paths etc and they are failing in a number of areas. If you have any specific evidence please let us know. The Parish Council are also planning to replace the Maureen Campbell Memorial Bench on the Country Park, which is dilapidated and dangerous and this should be happening shortly.

In terms of the school bus turning circle a deal has been brokered through Janet Clowes to use the golf club car park as a turning circle for the school bus as a temporary solution, as the haul road is being returned to grass land as Bovis leaves the site, which is scheduled for the end of September, although this has been delayed a number of times. The Committee has been very forceful in insisting on involvement in the decision making process on the turning circle, and whilst we may not be entirely happy with the proposal at least there are no concessions to Haddon re access solutions, which you can be sure we will NOT allow. There is still an outstanding query on how the turning circle will be safely secured, which again the committee is insisting upon.

I think that is all I can update you on at the moment, but this is a crucial phase as the Examination in Public is upon us, the decision on approval could still go either way and we have to be prepared for the worst, and believe me myself and your committee members are, but as ever your support is paramount.

I will update again as and when I can about the Examination in Public and if there are any further updates.

Enjoy the rest of the holidays and look out for our next fund raising events in the Autumn.

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Wychwood Update – 30th July 2014

Time for an update! The Inspector and Cheshire East Council had a meeting last week to outline the process of reviewing the Local Plan submission. The public were invited and as you can imagine, the room in Macclesfield was absolutely packed; largely made up of greedy developers whom many of which have not been included in the local plan and were seeking information on how to go forward. As expected, Haddon representatives were there in force, and of course we attended too to gain an understanding.

The inspector assigned to this case is Stephen J Pratt BA(Hons) MRTPI, an experienced inspector having reviewed numerous cases in the last 9 years. He came across very knowledgeable, doesn’t stand for nonsense, and made it very clear from the beginning that he will only assess what has been made available to him as part of the Local Plan Submission. He insisted that this was not a “beauty contest” and that sites not included (which is ours) will not be considered or discussed unless the council re-consider their decision. Whilst Haddon Property Developments Ltd will have the opportunity to speak in October (because they submitted a representation), like many other developers, they can only discuss what they have already submitted (nothing new), and only the reasons why the Local Plan is not sustainable and shouldn’t be approved for the benchmark of growth over the next 15 years. To look more at what was said and the ongoing schedule, refer here http://cheshireeast-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/cs/sub1. People supporting the plan are generally not encouraged to speak, although we will be providing some ammunition to challenge Haddon, to a number of parties.

For those of you that read the Haddon representation, it was very much themed around comparing our site against the proposed “Village A” site, next to Crewe Hall. That tactic may have backfired as they won’t be able to discuss our site (and we will do whatever we can to make sure of that!), so any comparisons made will also be excluded from discussion, leaving them to try and rebut the Local Plan on very little additional information they included. Their representation was so weak, that we feel they will be largely ignored. This doesn’t however mean we are safe, not by a long way yet, as the Local Plan needs to pass on its own merits first, which will be an incredibly tall order.

The fight continues, but is very much now between Haddon, the Inspector and the Council. Rest assured we will continue to support the Local Plan and offer vital information at the appropriate times, on behalf of our Members. Hopefully this won’t drag on too long and we can finally see the back of Mr Hunt/Haddon and help determine the future of the Gorstyhill site.

In other news, you may have spotted a reduction in the amount of maintenance activity taking place; this is down to Haddon allowing the golf course to grow wild and seemingly only one groundskeeper now remains on-site! This site is too large for one individual, especially given the large list of contractual obligations Haddon have which are presently being neglected, including hedgerows, pathways, sign visibility, verges, to name but a few. We have escalated these issues through both the Parish Council and Cheshire East and expect action to be taken.

The Family Fun Day took place at the end of June and was a huge success, raising an additional £1,000 towards the ‘fighting fund’. More residents and locals turned out than previous and all local businesses went away very happy, looking forward to next year. Well done to Paul and his team for organising such a great event.

Discussions are ongoing regarding a turning point for the school buses and despite many attempts by Cheshire East Council, Haddon have been unwilling to cooperate. A meeting did take place this morning with representatives from Cheshire East, Parish Council, Local Police and Haddon in attendance, but this was just to thrash out a temporary solution for September now that the Bovis haulage road is being dug up. The Committee met with Janet Clowes (Cheshire East Council) last night and stressed how we see this as a very strategic point and we made it clear that we expect to be included in any decisions made on this. We will not allow Haddon any leeway in manufacturing an opportunity to create an access point. We are chasing up the outcome of the meeting and can only stress how important we feel this is. We offered up alternatives and will see how they are progressed. Our children’s safety remains the priority here, but need to ensure Haddon don’t try to use this as a bargaining tool. The committee are involved in this process as it impacts on potential further development on the site.

Just to reiterate that point, we as a committee are here to fight development only. Any other issues that arise are being handled by residents, for residents. The only times we’ll get involved are when it compromises what we are trying to achieve to prevent development on the Gorstyhill site.

As always, we encourage Members to ask questions to avoid feeling excluded (not forgetting that some matters we cannot discuss at any given time) and get involved where ever possible. It is a huge undertaking of the committee and sub-groups acting on your behalf, so help is always appreciated.