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Business park for Sandbach

Capricorn Business Park

(bounded by M6, Old Mill Road and the wildlife corridor)

 

A planning application has recently been submitted for “Land South of Old Mill Road, Sandbach” (reference 12/3948C),

The application is for:

“Commercial Development comprising of family pub/restaurant, 63 bedroom hotel, drive through cafe, eat in cafe and office and light industrial commercial units with an adjacent residential development of 250 dwellings. The proposal also includes associated infrastructure and access.”

This is NOT the world class science park that I have been campaigning for on this site. Sandbach has lost several major employment sites in recent years and is in danger of becoming a commuter town. We need more employment and this is the only realistic site in Sandbach for a world class science park. Please do not let this site be wasted on housing.

I urge everyone to object to this planning application. To register objections go tohttp://planning.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ApplicationSearch.aspx
Then search on 12/3948C
Then click on the link on the bottom right ‘Comment on this application’

Grounds for objecting are
1) the site is ideally suited to employment (not housing)

2) housing on this site was rejected in the consultation on the Development Strategy

3) houses on this site would be dependent on car use as there are few facilities within walking distance, contrary to government policy. The housing is NOT a sustainable development

4) the development would harm the wildlife corridor, which has received a lot of public support in all the consultations.

 

 

Why the Prospects Are Now Good for a World Class Business Park

1.   The prospects for this business park are looking more hopeful than for a decade. Previously disputes between the landowners have caused problems, but these are now resolved.

2.   The government has agreed to pay for J17 improvements.

3.   There is now a clean slate for planning applications.

4.   There is a developer interested in (and owning/controlling) the whole site.

Of course the developers will not put forward plans for a business park when they have the prospect of being allowed to build houses. The developers will make a lot more money out of housing and so will argue for housing. However, I predict that once the Local Plan is in force making clear that housing will not be allowed for 20 years on the Capricorn Site then (and only then) the developers will come forward with plans for a decent business park.

 

 

Why Employment Only Sites in Sandbach Are Important

Over the last 10 years several employment sites in Sandbach have been closed and replaced with housing estates. As a result there are now 0.51 jobs for every worker in Sandbach. Put another way, there are 2 workers in Sandbach for every job in Sandbach. This means that people have to look outside Sandbach for work and Sandbach is at risk of becoming a dormitory town.

There is a highly skilled workforce in Sandbach and we need highly skilled local jobs. This is not a rival or an alternative to Old Mill Quarter. Old Mill Quarter is primarily a retail park. The J17 site should be for laboratories and offices.

If more people live, work and shop locally then this has benefits for community spirit as well as for the environment.

There will always be people who commute in and out of Sandbach, but if we wish to promote Sandbach as a sustainable town then we need more employment sites in Sandbach. Many of the key employees of businesses in the NorthWest live in the Sandbach area. In my work I have travelled to board meetings in Liverpool andManchester only to meet up with people who live in Cheshire. If there were a suitable location in Sandbach then businesses would locate here. That is why I have argued for many years for a science and business park close to junction 17.

 

 

Why Nothing Has Happened in the Past

To those who say nothing has happened for the last 20 years so nothing will happen in the next 20 years, I say that there was outline planning permission for a decent business park, but Congleton Borough Council approved rival plans for a pub and a couple of office blocks on a third of the site instead. That planning permission has now expired (without a brick being laid) and so there is hope again for a decent plan. (See planning references 30578/1, 04/0128/OUT, 37773/3,  05/0502/FUL.)

 

To those who say houses are needed to make the site commercially viable, I say that in a speech I made at Sandbach Town Council in 2009 I set out the finances surrounding the millions already made on the site:

“I have obtained the accounts of Halfmoon Investments Ltd and Avenue Shelfco 17 Ltd and from these it appears that the land was sold

a) from Nigel Dale, a former Congleton Borough Councillor, to Halfmoon Investments Ltd for about £1M-£1.5M in about 2004

b) from Halfmoon Investments Ltd to Avenue Shelfco 17 Ltd for £5.5M in about 2006.

Avenue Shelfco 17 Ltd then raised a £6.8M mortgage on the land from Bank of Ireland.”

If over £5M can be made just through getting planning for a pub and 2 office blocks on a third of the site, then a proper development of the whole site could be a profitable project for a genuine developer.

Furthermore, the government has recently agreed to pay for J17 improvements, giving a £5m boost to the development.

 

To those who say the economic climate is not right for a business park, I say that this is a 20 year plan. Although we are now in the depths of a double dip recession, in 5-10 years time the economic situation will have changed. We should not abandon the long term future of Sandbach so that developers can make a short term profit.

 

 

Public Support for a Decent Business Park

In the public consultation in 2012 the site was approved as a business park site by 161 to 41. That is a remarkable outcome. Most people don’t want housing in their backyards, so to get a clear vote in favour of an employment site shows the strength of feeling in favour of a site to provide employment.

In the public consultation in 2013 the plans for houses on Sandbach Heath were overwhelmingly rejected and the plans for a business park were supported. There was also strong support for protecting and enhancing the wildlife corridor.

 

 

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