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Development moved for political reasons

Council Backtracks Over New Houses in Marginal Parliamentary Seat

Earlier this year the Ombudsman ruled that Cheshire East Council had knowingly and persistently misled the public over a planning application (ref 11/3759N) to change the status of land at White Moss Quarry near Alsager from greenfield to brownfield. The Ombudsman found 5 separate counts of maladministration in the way the Council had approved the planning application, and ordered the Council to engage a lawyer to advise on whether the decision could be overturned.

 

In the meantime the Council has conducted an unexpected ‘additional sites’ consultation for the Local Plan. This consultation included plans for 1,000 houses on the land at White Moss Quarry. Why is the Council so keen to allow housing on the site at White Moss Quarry? Could it be that political pressure to drop plans to build hundreds of homes on a site at Barthomley has led to plans to allow those houses to be built at White Moss Quarry instead?

 

The Barthomley site would have affected many Conservative voters in the parliamentary constituency of Crewe & Nantwich MP Edward Timpson, a seat targeted by the Labour party in the next general election. By contrast, the White Moss Quarry development will most affect the residents of Alsager who live in the Congleton parliamentary constituency, whose votes are taken for granted by the Conservatives.

 

By a strange co-incidence the owner of the White Moss Quarry land lives in Barthomley.

 

The number of counts of maladministration in reaching a favourable planning decision on the White Moss Quarry site, the unexpected additional sites consultation and then the decision to allow 1,000 houses on a site not previously allocated for housing all add up to a very strange story.

 

Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said

“I was very surprised when I heard that Cheshire East Council were carrying out an additional sites consultation lasting a month. Every month of delay to the Local Plan is another month for developers to get their speculative planning applications through. I realised at the time that there must have been a strong motive for the Conservative controlled Council to carry out the additional sites consultation and risk delay to the Local Plan. Now I think I am beginning to work out what the reasons are.”

 

Cllr Chris Thorley, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said,

“Edward Timpson MP was nowhere to be seen when I was objecting to the atrocious plans to build 400 houses at Barrows Green and 650 houses in Coppenhall East. Hundreds of Crewe residents objected to those plans. With regard to the case of Coppenhall East I have an email (20.10.2011) from his secretary saying that he has no direct influence on the planning process, but where there is a clear, unambiguous and consistent local opinion, then his role is to represent that view. She goes on to say that in the case of that particular application, no views, to date, had been expressed to Edward by any constituents.

 

“I am, however, sure that Cllr Bebbington had submitted a petition about Barrows Green to Edward Timpson in April 2011, and that Cllr Martin had also submitted a petition from the residents of Coppenhall East, both petitions objecting to the developments. Was it not Edward Timpson’s duty to present these facts to the Committee at the relevant Strategic Planning Board meetings? Edward Timpson was silent at both of these meetings. He’s changed his tune now that his parliamentary seat is threatened.”

 

 

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