Dearie me, Councillor Roberts is taking the high moral ground over destruction of Green Belt. It is fine, though, if he buys him votes. Who on earth would ever vote LibDem?

“Conservatives at Cheshire East Council plan to sell greenbelt land they own near Handforth Dean to build a new development of around 1800 houses. As you drive south past the A555 into Cheshire and have Handforth Dean (with Tesco and M&S) on your right, the new development would be on your left, stretching over nearly to Woodford.

This is part of Cheshire East’s Core Strategy & Local Plan (a planning document that sets out, among other things, where they want to build houses across their authority).

The nine councillors (six Lib Dems and the three Heald Green independents) at Cheadle Area Committee were united in having serious concerns about the Conservative plans. Our concerns are in line with the report from Stockport council officers which you can read here (section 5).

The points I made were:

1. We recognise that more houses need to be built – in Stockport, in Cheshire East and everywhere else across the country – to meet need. We aren’t objecting to building houses, and we aren’t Nimby’s. We accept that some new housing will be near us and will affect us.

2. Building on greenbelt land should be a last resort. Before deciding to build on greenbelt, all other options (e.g. brownfield) should be explored. This doesn’t seem to have happened in this case. Several Cheshire East councillors came to our meeting and they alleged that the Conservatives in Cheshire East had decided to build on the greenbelt first, and sought to justify it afterwards. I don’t know if that claim is correct, but we certainly haven’t seen the evidence of a proper study.

3. This volume of housing all on the Cheshire border right next to the A34 will have a massive detrimental effect on Kingsway, especially at the Gatley Road junction, unless the effects are properly mitigated. We don’t know how that mitigation would be achieved, but we’d need to see Cheshire East’s proposals. Currently we’ve agreed that Stockport officers will work with Cheshire East to look at the options and develop proposals.

4. Although the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road is clearly essential to any significant house building near Handforth Dean, it isn’t sufficient. The new road has not been designed to take all that extra traffic, so additional mitigation would be needed. The risk otherwise would be traffic from the new development clogging up local roads in Heald Green, Gatley and Cheadle as drivers try to find a way past long jams on the A34 and A555.

The Conservatives in Cheshire East have a lot of work to do to fulfill their planning obligations, and we will not be accepting any proposal that results in more traffic jams on our roads.”