Over 14 months into the fight against controversial plans for houses on a greenfield site in Whaley Bridge, campaigners at a meeting of High Peak Borough Council’s planning committee witnessed, for a second time, a vote in favour of the plan, 7-2.
But it still isn’t over! At the meeting, the council announced yet another public consultation, over 35 days, after they failed to properly consult the public earlier in the process. The council stated that, should any material issues be raised by the public during this consultation, the application would need to be sent back to the development control committee yet again for them to reconsider and vote again!
The campaigning group Whaley Bridge Matters (WBM) is now taking the fight into a 15th month. More than 30 WBM members and residents crowded into Chapel en le Frith town hall on Wednesday 11 March), to witness the latest battle against developer Gladman’s plan to build up to 107 homes on the green fields between Macclesfield Road and Linglongs Road.
At one point in the meeting, enthusiastic campaigners applauded Francesca Read, who addressed councillors and officers on behalf of objectors. Committee chair David Mellor sternly warned the audience: “We have work to do here – this is not a music hall.” Committee member Robert McKeown, a former mayor of High Peak, said he had never seen such opposition to a plan as the Whaley Bridge response.
During the meeting, it emerged that housing target figures for the High Peak being used by the Council had been based on a projected population growth of 18 per cent. It is now less than 8 per cent. Local borough and county councillor David Lomax told the committee: “This is another fine mess we’ve got into.” He described figures for future housing needs as ‘farcically wrong’.
A statement from WBM said: “Whilst the result of the vote was obviously disappointing, the application will still be subjected to further scrutiny before the decision can be finalised. In addition to the council’s consultation, we have referred the application to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, and requested that it be called in for his review. We again thank the community for their continuing support and the fantastic turnout at the meeting.”