Just finished watching online the Cheshire West Planning Committee deciding in the end to approve the latest application for Christleton Hall to be turned into 18 apartments, 24 houses on the existing car park and a modern office building in the orchard.
It made interesting viewing Stephen Curwell of Pepper Street spoke in favour of the application. He mentioned the problems there had been with having to get the police out in the middle of the night because of thefts. Then John Beckett spoke for Christleton Parish Council against the proposal. Followed by Rob Evans of Littleton P.C who was concerned about the HGV traffic turning off the A51 into Littleton Lane. Councillor Stuart Parker then spoke on behalf of the residents of Christleton laying out their concerns to traffic, school places and other matters.
Everything looked as if the application would be approved until Councillor Samantha Dixon started speaking. She really did not like the 24 houses saying that they were not in keeping to Christleton. She wanted to hear what other councillors thought about this and was probably pleased to hear that a number of her colleagues agreed with her. Advice was sought on what they could do about this. Deferral was mentioned as well as refusal of the application. Another concern was the haul road which had been in previous applications but removed in this one resulting in all the HGV traffic for the site would now pass through the village. A plan as to what times of day this can happen will be sorted out.
In the end it was a bit like that time each year on November 5th after the last firework is lit. A pause and then. All over and the planning application was approved unanimously. It took under an hour.
I must admit that I had become reconciled to the old College of Law being turned into flats, 24 houses built on the car park, which is green belt land and a charity building on the old orchard. I think I might have been worn down by the number of planning applications made by the developers over the past few years. Probably a a tactic practiced by the building trade in getting plans passes. Like the dripping of water on stone they rely on residents becoming disinterested as people have other important things going on in the family and their lives. In the first planning application we had great interest from residents with a big meeting at Christleton High School with our then Member of Parliament.
Planning is not a subject I know a lot about but I do know that all the valid objections made with each application are completely forgotten and taken out of the equation when there is a refusal. So when a new planning application is made, all you said has been wiped clean and forgotten. With new applications some will make their objections known again but others will not. So each time the developer knows from experience the residents will tire and there will be fewer objections raised. And eventually by erosion the developers will most likely get their way.
Whatever you think about the current applications you should make your feelings known. Thankfully we live in a democratic society and will accept the decision of the majority. But if you love Christleton as I do please consider the consequences there will be during and after the development of the University of Law. You will be receiving through your letter box very soon, a leaflet prepared by Christleton Parish Council which sets out very clearly the key matters you should consider.
You can also download the document in pdf format here
As well as the actual development there is also another important point on which you should make your feelings known. It is the temporary construction access. The word temporary could mean 3 years. But it appears that no agreement for this road has been made, which would go from Little Heath Road across the field and public footpath to the site. Failing this cross country access the 32 tonne and 40 tonne heavy goods vehicles would pass through the village of Christleton. Considering the consequences of allowing this is just beyond belief. The noise, the vibration, the risk to pedestrians and cyclists, no parking outside the church for weddings and funerals plus removal of parking in other areas, possible damage to buildings and roads, negotiating the blind bend in Little Heath Road. I could go on but I am sure you are already thinking of more already.
And thinking is what you need to do. Perhaps even considering that if this development went through in its entirety how other developers might cease the moment to propose the development of other pieces of land in our village.
This matter concerns both Christleton and Littleton Parish Councils You will find email links in the PDF for both councils. So each council can submit a response to the planning application they need to hear from you by 29th October, 2021.
CHRISTLETON email@example.com LITTLETON firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments to Cheshire West and Chester should be made on their portal and need to be received by 5th November, 2021 The portal can sometimes be a bit clunky so probably best to write out your comments in a text program and so you are not on the website too long copy and paste. If you you have any problems please email me email@example.com
I would strongly recommend that you read the Minutes of Christleton Parish Council Extra Ordinary Meeting held on Thursday 16th September. It will enlighten you on the current situation and perhaps some aspects that are yet not aware of
I wanted you to know my views, being one the nearest houses at Stoneydale to the development. I realise that the future of Christleton Hall has to be saved in some way and if that means the creation of 18 apartments then let it be. I am sure it is the lesser of other evils that could be considered so it has my blessing.
Looking at the proposed New Office Building in the orchard immediately to the rear of Stoneydale in a pragmatic manner I again am able to accept it. How I come to this conclusion is thinking what might happen to the land otherwise. My greatest fear would that it would be a piece of land that the public could roam in and possibly kids playing cricket, football and other games there. The proposed plan means that the land would be well maintained and controlled.
So you are starting to think that I am rather agreeable. Yes in those two matters but when it comes to the building of 24 houses on the current car park I totally despair on how this could possibly be allowed. It is green belt land and that should be sacrosanct. You only have to look at the land around to realise this is open countryside and should not be built on.
During the 44 years I have lived at Stoneydale I have had the pleasant view from the back of the house of the orchard. But also the view of the uninspired barracks like building added to the rear of the Hall. A very utilitarian design for the needs of education. I can imagine the two owners ago of Stoneydale who probably were the Ferguson's getting a bit of a shock. The further additions of single storey buildings in my time here are far more in keeping.
I think that this is a unique opportunity for planning and the village to get it right this time. Christleton Hall is one of the finest buildings in the village and there is a chance to return it to its former glory with adjustments for modern day living. If the change is done with sympathy it would mean we would have an important 18th century house set in its own grounds. Christleton Hall and Stoneydale have a close connection. In the will dated 1786 of the then owner of Christleton Hall, Robert Townsend, he said of his daughter-in-law "who is to inhabit a house lately built for him in a close called Stoneydale in Christleton"
I say set in its own grounds for it would most certainly be a travesty to allow such a blot on the landscape as the proposal for an adjacent development of such density filled with inappropriate styled dwellings. Christleton Hall surrounded by open countryside could be an exemplary and highly admired restoration.
I do sincerely hope for such an outcome.