Jones Homes North West and Macclesfield Rugby Club have submitted a joint planning application to redevelop the rugby club on the western edge of town. The application proposes to replace the existing clubhouse with a new one, lay out 8 new pitches and build 76 houses on the site. Somewhat surprisingly, it is stated that “only 10% affordable housing could be provided on site without significantly undermining the proposed improvements to the Club” despite a local policy requirement for 30% of all dwellings to be affordable.
The accompanying Planning Statement acknowledges that the development of 76 houses would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt which should not be permitted except in very special circumstances. However, it is argued that very special circumstances include securing the future of the rugby club (which is currently running at a loss), the net benefit in terms of the club’s facilities which would be open to the community, the lack of a 5 year housing supply and the acknowledged need to release some Green Belt land to meet the housing requirement set out in its emerging Local Plan Strategy. It is also argued that the site does not make an important contribution to the Green Belt and that its inclusion in the Green Belt is an anomaly given that it already includes Fallibroome School, the Leisure Centre and the soon-to-be-relocated Kings School to the north of Alderley Road.
The application follows extensive consultation with local residents and stakeholders as well as Cheshire East Council. However, it will be interesting to see how the application progresses given that the protection of the Green Belt is such a hot topic both nationally and in the Cheshire East area. Watch this space.
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