'Knutsford would get better' claim as Crewe Green roundabout housing scheme finally gets green light

  Posted: 14.10.21 at 10:06 by Belinda Ryan, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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COUNCILLORS have "reluctantly" given the go ahead for a new Crewe housing estate arguing if the scheme had been for Knutsford the developer would probably have come up with something better.

The application from David Wilson Homes for 146 homes on land off Sydney Road had already been deferred twice by Cheshire East’s strategic planning board.

Councillors at yesterday's (Wednesday) meeting made it clear they still weren’t happy with the improved scheme but feared if they refused it they would lose an appeal because the greenfield site is allocated in the local plan for around 150 homes.

Knutsford councillor Stewart Gardiner who had proposed the deferral for improvements at the previous meeting, said: “I am aware of the background, how hard it has been for us to get where we are now, so I know that is highly unlikely that we will get any further.

“That means two options – we approve, or we refuse. If we refuse the scheme then, unfortunately, the mantra at the inspectorate at the moment is housing at all cost.

“That potentially means we could end up with this scheme but none of the benefits.”

Plans for the housing (red) were twice deferred by the borough council's strategic planning board.

He proposed it be approved.

Crewe South councillor Steve Hogben said the committee was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

He said: “I don’t see we have much alternative now but to approve it and accept those improvements that have been made, rather than probably lose them.”

“I have to say that if this were Knutsford… In Knutsford, if you recall, there was a gateway site that was deferred twice, got significance improvements, the sort of thing which it is hoped would actually attract awards.

“That’s Knutsford. It would appear, though, that Crewe doesn’t get the same kind of treatment. It’s an average sort of scheme and we’ve got some benefits out of it but it could be so much better.”

He added: “I will reluctantly second this to approve.”

Cllr Gardiner agreed with the Crewe councillor.

“You can take a horse to water, you can’t make it drink and I think the situation is that the developer in Knutsford was more prepared to drink,” he said.

“I don’t think this development does Crewe proud. I think we should be looking for high quality design everywhere.

“The problem we are stuck with is that we have a development system, which is based on private developers wanting to make profit.”

He said a developer would probably be more prepared to do more if a house was going to sell for £2m rather than £500,000.

“If we reject this today, I’m not convinced how far we can push them [developer], I don’t think they’re prepared to drink any more,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting the planning board heard from one local objector who said the council needed to get it right.

“Crewe is changing rapidly and it’s moving towards a future as a modern and sustainable place for living, working and for leisure,” she said.

“To meet that the town needs the best design, needs the best planning and the best implementation of development.

“This is the gateway to Crewe. This is something that promotes us and how do we want to be promoted?

She added: “Accepting these plans, in my view, without the required changes set a risky precedent. It’s a race to the bottom in housing that lets Crewe down.

“Sustainable future proof design is core to the successful development of our town. This proposal fails to address requirements set by the committee previously, and that’s not good enough.”

The application was approved with six councillors voting in favour, three against and one abstained.

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