Kingsley Village
in the heart of Cheshire

The following letter has been sent to Ms Fiona Hoare of Cheshire West & Chester council about the planning permission recently granted in the field at the end of Higher Heyes.

 

KINGSLEY PARISH COUNCIL

Chairman: Cllr. D Crossley

Parish Clerk:  Jo Preston, 19 Nursery Park, Delamere Road, Norley, Frodsham, WA6 6LX

 

Telephone: 01928 787303

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ms Fiona Hoare

Senior Manager - Planning & Strategic Transport

Cheshire West & Chester

7th December 2017

 

Dear Ms Hoare

Planning Ref: 17/02356/FUL - Development of 15 Affordable Dwellings on Land off Higher Heyes Drive, Kingsley, Frodsham, Cheshire

Kingsley PC and its residents are obviously unhappy with the recent decision taken to Approve planning application 17/02356/FUL, for 15 affordable units off Higher Heyes Drive, Kingsley. Whilst having to respect the decision made by the CWAC planning committee, we will always believe that there was more than sufficient justification for the clear refusal of the planning application on planning grounds. The decision has now been taken but Kingsley Parish Council and its residents, now seeks further urgent clarification on a number of points that were raised during the debate at the CWAC planning committee on 5th December 2017:

- Unsurprisingly, we are both confused and annoyed that the s106 contribution, to be made as part of this development, is to be wholly directed towards facilities outside of Kingsley – to Castle Park and Townfield Lane allotments in Frodsham. Despite having play areas and allotments in our own village and other amenity spaces that would benefit from such monies, Kingsley PC nor its residents were consulted on any aspect of this s106 contribution and we are not clear why that was the case. Could you please explain the process for allocating these s106 monies; why Kingsley was not considered worthy of receiving such funds, why existing play areas and allotments in Frodsham were chosen and most importantly, to urgently reconsider this aspect of the scheme.

Our objection to this planning application was partly based on the impact that it would have on our over stretched infrastructure already in the village – in particular traffic and parking congestion. It is highly unlikely that CWAC will ever be in a position to allocate any of its own funding to such issues, especially in the rural area, so a developer contribution of c£18,000 towards resolving some of these issues and would go some way to addressing some of our concerns.

We are being asked by your own Grounds Department to take on responsibility for Middle Lane Playing Fields in Kingsley (which CWAC currently maintain) and these S106 monies would help us to consider taking on this task, without such monies we would not be in a position to take on such facilities.

We still maintain that the housing needs survey carried out by the developer, in support of this application, did not produce the level of evidence required for it to be claimed there is a clear local need for such housing in Kingsley

Can CWAC please set out what they consider to be an acceptable response rate to such surveys, so that we can be very clear when future housing needs surveys are carried out in the village ? Your current approach is confused to say the least – with your own housing officer initially indicating that a 30% response rate was needed to ensure confidence in the results, but the developers survey secured levels of about 20%. CWAC then accepted this as being acceptable.

Given that much of the debate at the CWAC planning committee was around this issue of ‘local need’, CWAC need to commit to an agreed acceptable and published response rate figure and then hold by that decision rather than what appears to be a case of ‘changing the goalposts’ as and when convenient to justify a scheme.

Surely no-one is naïve enough to think that surveys undertaken by developers are not manipulated and the findings presented in a way that would support the aims of the organisation commissioning them. We would strongly suggest that in future, survey results are subject to independent scrutiny rather than leaving it to; a) the developers themselves to analyse and present ; and b) to over stretched housing officers who will not have the time to undertake a thorough analysis of the survey findings.

During the debate at the CWAC planning committee, the Highways Officers was asked a question about the impact of this development on the traffic travelling through the village. His assessment was that 15 units would equate to approx. 13 extra trips through the village at peak times. We are not clear on how this figure is reached but we assume that to derive this figure, some form of modelling is used. Could we please request that CWAC explain the rationale behind this calculation ?

The Highways Officer also suggested that this increase in journeys would have a negligible impact on traffic and parking in the village. Taken in isolation, looking at this development only, that may be a reasonable assessment to make however, can CWAC explain how they take into effect the cumulative impacts of several small to medium scale developments that take place over several years ?

Added to the fact that more people are owning and driving cars these days (at both ends of the age range), at what point will CWAC accept that there is a problem in Kingsley of Hollow Lane and take measures to address them ? We understand that resources are limited and stretched and priorities will be set meaning investment usually goes to city and town centres but this doesn’t help smaller rural communities who have been neglected over many years in terms of much needed investment in basic infrastructure.  Can CWAC please set out what investment and improvements they plan to make to address both highway and off highway (car parking) issues in Kingsley over the next 5 to 10 years ?

During the planning application process and the subsequent debate at the CWAC planning committee, there was regular reference to the issue of the affordable housing being for ‘local people’. We think this is misleading and we have no confidence that anyone at CWAC actually knows what this means . By their own admission, the developers agreed to accept a condition whereby, for a time limited period only, the properties would be made available for people with a connection to Kingsley. After that time, as was reinforced by comments at the planning committee, there would be a cascade approach to open this up to surrounding villages and then beyond. Ultimately, there are absolutely no safeguards that the housing will be occupied by people with a strong connection to the village at all, so the idea that the houses are and will always be for ‘local’ people is potentially very misleading.

Can CWAC please provide us with their own guidance or criteria around how this ‘cascade’ approach works and evidence of how many local affordable housing scheme in a village have been occupied by local people with a strong local connection to that place as opposed to people moving in from further afield.

Can CWAC please arrange for Kingsley Parish Council to be involved in working with the developers / housing association, to help form the criteria for selection.

CWAC should drop the word ‘local’ when referring to affordable housing schemes or redefine the meaning and context so that when applied to situations like this, ‘local’ actually means ‘anyone living within Kingsley and the surrounding villages’.

We look forward to your consider response to the items raised above so that we can give feedback to an incensed and irate village community. Should you wish to discuss in person the matters raised above with the Parish Council, we would be more than happy to welcome you to our next Parish Council meeting.

Yours sincerely

D N Crossley

Chair

Kingsley Parish Council

cc:

Nial Casselden - Area Planning Manager

Cathy Reay - Planning Officer

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