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Woodford Neighbourhood Forum

 

Woodford Neighbourhood Forum (WNF) was formed to encourage responsible development in Woodford whilst protecting the Green Belt. The application for the Neighbourhood Area was largely based on the boundary of the parish of Woodford, which has existed since 1873. However, Stockport Council (SMBC), despite approving the creation of the Forum on 17th October 2013, decided to exclude the BAE site from the Neighbourhood Area even though Woodford village is the only link between this development site and the borough of Stockport. This has resulted in an anomalous situation, which we hope will be resolved in the future.

 

See below for ‘What the WNF means for Woodford'.

 

Woodford Neighbourhood Forum now has its own website: www.woodfordnf.co.uk Please visit this site for the latest information.

 


Woodford Neighbourhood Forum AGM

 

The WNF Annual General Meeting was held on 23rd September 2015. Click here for copies of the draft Minutes and the PowerPoint presentation given at the AGM.

 

 

Archive WNF News

 

 

Woodford let down by Lib-Dem Councillors

 

Contrary to the appeal from Mark Hunter, the local Lib-Dem MP, Lib-Dem councillors have voted to recommend approval of developer Harrow’s hybrid planning application (DC053832) for the development of the Woodford Aerodrome Site.

 

The vote at the extraordinary meeting of the Planning and Highways Regulation Committee on 29 July 2014 was carried by an extremely narrow margin – with councillors split 6 for and 6 against after 4 hours of debate and discussion. The vote went in favour of Harrow’s application when Chairman Lenny Grice used his casting vote to squeeze through the recommendation.

 

It was only months ago that the Lib-Dems enthusiastically and unanimously voted through the Woodford SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) with a recommendation for a maximum of 750 to 850 dwellings on this site. Harrow’s application for 920 houses plus the addition of a 100-unit care home, which has now been recommended for approval, is vastly in excess of this. It appears as though Harrow has treated the SPD as a ‘Pick and Mix’ selection box to choose whatever suited them.

 

Woodford residents feel let down and bitterly disappointed by SMBC Planning officers and Lib-Dem councillors, who did not take Harrow to task on this and seemed to allow the developer to make a mockery of the SPD process – possibly one of the most extensive and expensive consultation exercises ever carried out in Stockport.

 

Throughout the proceedings, local Councillor Brian Bagnall made a spirited and commendable appeal on behalf of Woodford residents. He drew attention to numerous issues that needed to be clarified or resolved, arguing that he did not feel that the Committee could make a responsible decision to recommend approval of the hybrid application when so much remained unclear. His proposal to reject the application was defeated when the vote split was split 6 for and 6 against. The subsequent proposal to recommend approval of the application was passed, but only after another 6 – 6 split, when the Chairman’s casting vote carried the day for Harrow.

 

Earlier in the meeting, the two other planning applications relating to the site, concerning demolition of the existing buildings and remediation of the site (DC053833) and road changes outside the site (DC054212) were approved, although changes were made to the conditions in order to limit contractor working hours to 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday and 8.00 am to 1.00 pm on Saturday mornings, with no Bank Holiday working.

 

The actual proceedings can be viewed on Stockport Council webcast at http://www.stockport.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/139501.

 

However, the final decision on Harrow’s application has not yet been made. The precise outcome of the meeting was that the Council is minded to approve the application, subject to submission to the Secretary of State for consideration, since it ‘may be’ a departure from current green belt policy. Woodford Neighbourhood Forum will now be taking this opportunity to make representations to the Secretary of State, who may well call for a Public Enquiry to finally determine what development may or may not be permitted.

 

We are especially concerned that should approval be given by the Secretary of State for the change to the green belt set out in the Harrow hybrid application, it must not be used as a precedent for development on the remainder of the Aerodrome site in Stockport and Cheshire East, particularly since we understand that Harrow now owns the whole aerodrome site.

 

 

Woodford objects to ex-BAE Site Planning Applications

 

Woodford Neighbourhood Forum (WNF), with the support of Woodford Community Council (WCC), has submitted objections to the Harrow Estates hybrid application (DC/053832) for the Woodford Aerodrome redevelopment. An overview of the reasons for these objections, together with further information about the planning applications and future timetable, may be seen here.

 

 

Extent of proposed local development (June 2014)

 

The image shown below illustrates the extent of the proposed development of some 3,000 houses that could soon impact on the Woodford area. Woodford Church is the white downward-pointing arrow in the centre of the image. The white line delineates Woodford Parish boundary. The red outline on the right is the proposed area of development on the Stockport side of the ex BAe site. The red outlines on the left of the image are the proposed areas of development by Cheshire East Council and the smaller red outline to the bottom left of the image is another Cheshire East proposed development at Dean Row of some 200 properties.

This image  illustrates the extent of the proposed development of some 3,000 houses that could soon impact on the Woodford area

 

Plans for Development at Handforth Submitted to Secretary of State (June 2014)

 

The Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy, which includes a proposal for a North Cheshire Growth Village comprising around 2,000 new homes in Green Belt adjacent to Woodford, was submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 20th May 2014 in preparation for independent examination. The submission includes the comments received during the representation period.

 

Woodford Neighbourhood Forum (WNF) submitted a representation on this Plan with particular reference to the proposed new village, which would occupy the area between the A34 bypass, Total Fitness, the A555 link road and Blossoms Lane. About two thirds of this land are currently farmed and include land belonging to Threeways Farm on Blossoms Lane. A further one third of the proposed site has reverted to nature over several decades, following demolition of a war-time RAF base. Additional land bordering Woodford to the South West, including land used by Dean Valley Farm, was earmarked for development beyond 2030.

 

WNF objected to these proposals on several aspects including:

 

  • Failure of Cheshire East Council to comply with the duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities, particularly in respect of traffic and infrastructure planning.
  • Unsoundness of the proposals with regard to justification, sustainability and deliverability.
  • Lack of legal compliance with the National Planning Policy Framework with respect to the green belt.

 

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) submitted representations that were an excellent analysis of the key planning issues and the impacts on the wider community. It covered many of the serious concerns expressed by WNF, residents in other parts of Stockport borough and residents of Handforth, Wilmslow and Poynton in Cheshire East.

 

The detailed representations submitted by WNF and SMBC can be seen in the following pdf files – click WNF or SMBC.

 

In support of the representations by Handforth Parish Council and WNF, local Woodford residents Evelyn Frearson and Kris Hayward, who are professional biologists, conducted a survey to assess the environmental impact of the proposed development with respect to ecology and agriculture. You can view the survey, including photographs which illustrate our beautiful surroundings, here.

 

The Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy will now be subject to an independent examination to be conducted by the Planning Inspectorate. Inspector Stephen Pratt BA (Hons) MRTPI has been appointed to conduct the examination to determine whether the Local Plan Strategy is sound. The process will include hearing sessions where those invited to attend will have the opportunity to respond to matters raised by the Inspector.

 

Further information regarding the Local Plan Strategy can be obtained from the Cheshire East website www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/localplan or by email localplan@cheshireeast.gov.uk or telephone 01270 685893.

 

For further information relating to the examination please contact the Programme Officer, Miss Kerry Trueman by email programmeofficer@cheshireeast.gov.uk or telephone 07582 310364.

 

Nick Boles, Minister for Planning, Visits Woodford (May 2014)

Mary Robinson, prospective Conservative MP; Paul Rodman, WCC Chairman; Nick Boles, Minister for Planning; Alanna Vine, Bramhall North Councillor

From L to R: Mary Robinson, prospective Conservative MP; Paul Rodman, WCC Chairman; Nick Boles, Minister for Planning (at the time); Alanna Vine, Bramhall North Councillor.

 

Members of Woodford Community Council and Woodford Neighbourhood Forum were pleased to welcome Nick Boles, the Minister for Planning in the Department for Communities and Local Government, who visited Woodford at the invitation of Mary Robinson, prospective Conservative candidate for Cheadle constituency.

 

Mr Boles gave an insight into the Government's policy on greenbelt and local area involvement in planning decisions, as well as useful suggestions relating to the situation in Woodford.

 

 

 

Questionnaire (April 2014)

 

WNF has delivered a questionnaire to every Woodford resident on the extended electoral register. This Questionnaire is intended to seek Woodford residents’ views on future developments in the area up to 2030. It is the first stage in the development of a Woodford Neighbourhood Plan (WNP). This plan, when completed and validated by a referendum of residents, will become the policy statement for the future development of the village. All residents are encouraged complete the questionnaire and return it to a Forum member or to the Woodford War Memorial Community Centre letter box.

 

 

What does the WNF mean for Woodford?

 

A Neighbourhood Forum has statutory and recognised powers and duties that bring some of the decision-making and liaison closer to those affected by development proposals and allow their views to carry much more weight.

 

Working within the National Planning Policy Framework, Local Core Strategy and Allocations Plan, Woodford Neighbourhood Forum may produce a Neighbourhood Plan for the designated Area, which would provide guidance for development within that Area and better reflect the views and concerns of local people, businesses and organisations. It cannot change anything that has already been agreed, but can influence future developments. The Plan would have to be submitted to a local referendum in which all registered voters in the Neighbourhood Plan Area would be entitled to vote and can only be accepted if a majority of those voting agree to it. If accepted, the Plan would become a Policy Document to which SMBC must give due consideration.

 

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