Discussion of Wrenbury Fishery application (6 July 2010)

An informal account of the meeting, which does not represent formal minutes.


Present: Parish Councillors, Margaret Hollins (Cheshire East councillor), site owner, agent of site owner, about 40–50 members of the public


Chair: Meeting has been brought forward by a week because of the date at which comments are required. Explained that the role of the Parish Council in planning applications is merely to send comments; it is not the planning authority. Members of the public with comments regarding the application should address them as formal comments to Cheshire East Planning Authority. Such comments are more highly regarded by the planning authority than petitions. Introduced Margaret Hollins from Cheshire East and the agent of the site owner.

Agent: Displayed site plan showing the existing fishing lakes, access route, and 34 timber-clad lodges. The idea that the units were caravans with timber cladding was a misapprehension of the application. Explained that high-quality landscaping of the site would be carried out, especially around the edges and in sensitive areas. The scheme was low density and therefore had reduced impact. He displayed a picture of an example of the type of lodge proposed.

Resident: Questioned how the site’s sewage would be treated.

Agent: There would be an on-site sewage treatment plant. This would be of the circular rotating type. Treated sewage would drain into a local water course.

Resident: Questioned location of water course.

Agent: This was a local brook which eventually drained into the River Weaver.

Resident: Brought up the risk of flooding, given that the brook currently floods frequently.

Agent: Flood risk assessment had been carried out and there was no extra risk of flooding.

Resident: Questioned whether lodges were intended to be residential.

Agent: The lodges were holiday lodges and were not intended for people to live in.

Resident: Commented that families holidaying in lodges would not be compatible with the use of the site for fishing – children playing would not be quiet.

Several residents: Queried wildlife assessment as barn owls and kestrels were known to be nesting in the adjacent field.

Agent: A detailed survey of the wildlife had been carried out; in particular he mentioned the newt population. The impact on wildlife would be nil or beneficial because of the provision of a wider range of environments. [No specific comment on barn owls or kestrels.]

Councillor: Asked for details of administration building mentioned in the application.

Agent: Stated that the building had not yet been designed. It would be designed only if the application were successful. No permanent residents were envisaged.

Resident: Queried the mix of letting to sale in the lodges.

Agent: There would be a mix of sold units and let units.

Resident: Questioned the policy on subletting.

Agent: There was no intent to restrict subletting on the part of the applicant. This would be up to the council to restrict.

Resident: Questioned what the double units mentioned in the planning application represented.

Agent: Clarified that each lodge represented a double unit, which would be occupied by a single family, so the site would accommodate 34 families not 68 at maximum occupancy. Stated that national studies suggested that the maximum occupancy of such developments was 45%.

Resident: Queried requirement for 150 car-parking spaces if only 45% occupancy of 34 family units.

Agent: Clarified that parking requirements were for two different enterprises, the day fishing use (from previous accepted application) and the residential lodges.

Resident: Read out statement:

·         He and his wife were the owner of the access track referred to in the application.

·         It was a gravel/stone/hardcore single-track farm access track which was built over peat.

·         It served his farm which consisted mainly of free-range hens and pony breeding.

·         It was maintained wholly by them and required maintenance every 3–4 months because of sinking into the peat underneath.

·         There was no public right of way. It was completely unsuitable for the proposed commercial use.

·         He and his wife were not prepared to give permission for the track to be improved or altered.

·         They had not been given proper information about the development.

·         The right of access enjoyed by the owner of the land under planning consideration was for farming the land and not for other uses.

·         Feed wagons and egg removal absolutely required access to the track to be continuous; a 2 day window at most existed if it were contemplated to re-lay the track on proper foundations.

Agent: Disputed the point about information, stating that he had written to them. Declined to comment on the legal right of way situation.

Resident: Brought up wildlife impact again, particularly mentioning barn owls and kestrels.

Agent: Stated that 5 car movements per hour were the estimated average use. The source of this estimate was to be found in the Highway Engineers report on the planning portal. In further questioning it was clarified that:

·         This estimate of 5 car movements per hour represented an incremental total on the unknown number of car movements for the 80 parking spaces previously approved appertaining to the fishery, which the Agent agreed do not currently exist.

·         It related to the use of the day fishery only. The car movements associated with the lodge occupation for holiday use had not been estimated and would be on top of this figure.

Resident: Questioned passing places.

Agent: At least one passing place currently exists, but is not yet surfaced. This is on the applicant’s land.

Resident: Queried how passing places on the access roads would be provided – compulsory purchase? [No response from Agent/Site Owner]

Councillor: Queried the site’s business model. What price are ‘caravans’ sold at? What letting price is envisaged?

Agent: Stated he had no idea in this specific case. Similar developments were priced at £100–150,000 per lodge. [No comment on the letting price.] Stated that no business model had yet been formulated. Also no decision on what proportion of the units would be let versus sold.

Resident: Commented that there was no mechanism to prevent all-year occupation by a single tenant.

Agent: Stated it was up to the council to patrol this aspect. There was a legal requirement for a log of people living there, so that the council could act if there was a breach of the holiday-only usage.

Several residents and a council member expressed scepticism about the effectiveness of this method of management.

Resident: Queried expansion plans.

Agent: There was no intent at the moment to expand but it could not be ruled out in future. There were extra areas owned by the applicant that were not being used by the current proposal. This would need a further planning application. Stressed that the development was intended to be a high-quality, low-density scheme.

Resident: Stated that this might be true compared with urban developments, but the density was actually high relative to the very low local population density. For example the civil parish of Marbury had a total population of around 200 in 2006 over an area of over 2000 acres.

·         Stressed that the current site had no landscaping, it was just ponds with mounds of earth, so any previous landscaping requirements of the earlier planning application had not been met.

Resident: Queried the status of the Wrenbury Fishery company.

Agent: Clarified that Wrenbury Fishery has never traded.

Resident: Stated that there was a large amount of traffic currently at the junction between New Road and Nantwich Road.

Resident: Queried the piecemeal approach to the planning applications, with the earlier fishery application and the current holiday lodge accommodation.

Agent: Stated that there was no deliberate tactic of making piecemeal applications. Denied that there was the submission of incremental schemes to the planning authority. He had not been involved in the previous fishery application.

·         Highway Engineering had agreed details of access and the traffic count performed on behalf of the applicant.

Several residents: Stressed that Hollyhurst Road was a particularly narrow and dangerous lane even compared with the many single-track lanes in the area.

·         Despite the low speeds used by cars used to the conditions, many cars drive at 50–60 mph, forcing cars and pedestrians into the hedges, and this is particularly perceived as a problem with drivers unfamiliar with the lane’s dangers.

·         There is a blind junction at the Wrenbury Road end and a particularly narrow section immediately adjacent to the access track.

·         Horse-riders are particularly common on Hollyhurst Road because there is an existing livery stables near the proposed development site. This business would be adversely affected if increased traffic prevented horses from safely using the lane.

·         The lanes are also commonly used by walkers, dog-walkers and cyclists, including children walking to the primary school in Wrenbury.

·         Large vehicles commonly use the lanes including tractors, milk lorries and chicken lorries.

·         Increased traffic on the narrow and heavily used Pinsley Green Road was also mentioned.

Resident: Questioned whether the use of public transport would approach the levels mentioned in the transport report.

Agent: Obviously all that the owner could do would be to promote the use of public transport.

Resident: Suggested providing fewer parking spaces as an incentive.

Agent: A minibus service would be provided to drive holidaymakers on excursions, for example to visit local pubs.

Resident: Expressed concern about the suitability of minibuses for local lanes.

Resident: Enquired where the figures for number of cars came from.

Agent: Figures were from similar types of development; the details were in the transport statement.

Resident: Enquired whether a risk assessment had been carried out regarding deaths from drowning in children because of the close proximity of the holiday lodges to the ponds.

Agent: No risk assessment had yet been carried out. This would be performed if planning permission were granted.

Councillor: Expressed sympathetic views towards the need of farmers to diversify the use of their land away from purely agricultural. However, commented that this development appeared to be on a substantially greater scale than other change from agricultural use developments previously considered by the Parish Council. Questioned whether the land that was not part of the current development proposal would be farmed, perhaps by leasing to a farmer. [No comment from Agent/Site Owner]

Resident: Expressed concern about the value of surrounding housing being decreased by the development.

Agent: Stated that this was not a planning matter and was not included in the factors considered according to advice from government.

Several residents: Stated that people tended to live in the area because of the peace and quiet.

Resident: Commented that the units could be 100% sold and this could lead to year-round usage.

Agent: As units would be restricted to holiday usage, sold units would be likely to be more lightly occupied than let units.

Resident: Stressed need for the planning authority to prohibit subletting.

Resident: Raised question of the maintenance of the access track in terms of cost of maintenance 4–5x per year.

Site owner: Expressed willingness to make small cash payments towards maintenance.

Resident: Expressed concern over the ability of Wrenbury facilities to cope with the volume of business, in particular relating to the existing traffic/parking problems around the Wrenbury post office/village store, the difficulty of getting a table for a pub meal at peak times, and the traffic congestion around the primary school at pick-up and collection times.

Chair: Summarised the follow-up actions of Wrenbury Parish Council — the Parish Council would make comments to Cheshire East which will be published on the planning website.

Margaret Hollins: The decision would be made ~4 August at a hearing at Macclesfield. The public could attend the hearing, but only the applicant and objectors who had applied in advance of the meeting could speak. Applications to make objections in person at the meeting must be received 3 days in advance of the meeting, and could be rejected if multiple applications were received.

Resident: Complained that the notification of the application had been inadequate. Cheshire East had only notified those in Yew Tree Barns, and not those directly affected by the application such as on the access roads or at Pinsley Green, the nearest settlement. There were no planning application notices on the access track or at the public footpath which crosses the site. The Parish Council had done nothing to notify residents of such a large planning application within the CP.

Councillors: Clarified that it was not the role of the Parish Council to notify residents about planning applications. The plans were available at the Planning Portal website and lists of applications were available at parish noticeboards and in the appropriate pages of local newspapers. Cheshire East was not legally obligated to notify residents either.

7 April 2010