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  • "The approval of this scheme for the building of 240 houses in a river valley floodplain where the fast flowing River Dane changes its route over the years and often bursts its banks flooding thousands of square meters of adjacent fields is highly questionable and calls into question the adequacy or otherwise of the present planning approval process.

    It would appear that any new scheme with a token "environmental" space gets the "green" light for development. In this case a charity - Cheshire Wildlife Trust, supported the country park scheme associated with this development, not surprisingly as it would result in increased job security for that charity assuming that they were awarded the contract to manage this green space when not under flood.

    This is another unwelcome development approved on a greenfield site which has never been built on before (for good reason) because of a CWAC need to fulfil housing supply quotas - or is there a need ?

    Where do the housing supply requirement figures used to justify developments come from ?

    In CWACs own housing background report on their website, CWAC has the "need" to supply 22,000 houses over the entire CWAC area from year 2010 to 2030.

    Delving further into the CWAC report, Northwich is identified as requiring the supply of 4200 houses from year 2010 to 2030.

    But according to CWAC own figures taking Northwich housing numbers already completed since 2010 and housing numbers where planning permission has already been granted (Winnington Urban Village etc.) this reduces the future housing needs to only 1727 houses in the Northwich area alone over the next 17 years and is it likely that this figure has significantly reduced further in the light of recent approved housing developments in Moulton, Davenham and Hartford. On top of this the CWAC report identifies further potential bownfield sites where 2404 houses could be provided !

    So why is it necessary to approve the building of 240 houses now in a highly sensitive greenfield location in an area which can be subject to flooding almost every year when there are other brownfield sites avaialble for development now and many more likely by year 2030.

    Even if development was not completely ruled out in this area on grounds of high safety risk to property and persons, should the logical course of action have been to consider development at a future date, say after year 2020, if there was a housing supply need at that time and in the meantime gather more information ? After all the Environment Agency flood risk assessment computer prediction model used in the planning approval process was several years out of date - this was queried and confirmed during the planning meeting but the development still gained approval !"
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Reluctant approval

PLANS for more than 230 houses and a nature park have been reluctantly approved for land at Dane Valley.

Debate centred around flooding fears on the site, in Leftwich, and in Northwich town centre, which lies downriver, when proposals were discussed by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee on Thursday.

But the proposals, put forward by Ainscough Strategic Land, are supported by the Environment Agency and endorsed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust, leaving committee members with little choice.

Leftwich resident Chris Hart said: “The Dane is the fastest flowing and most dangerous river in Cheshire and these plans will entice people, especially children, nearer to a dangerous flood plain and to the Dane.”

Clr Derek Bowden, from Northwich Town Council, said: “These are likely the right houses for Northwich but they’re in the wrong place,” he said.

“This site is wild and beautiful; it’s never been built on and once that is done it can never be undone.”

But Richard Gardener, from Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said the nature park aspect of the site, which would be created in the main flood plain, would help people engage with nature.

“Habitats will be available to the community and we are renowned for delivering activities and events that inspire and engage people. We see Dane Valley as an incredible opportunity to bring people closer to nature in Northwich.”

Members of the strategic planning committee expressed their nervousness over the proposals.

Clr Keith Butcher said: “It’s going to always be a worry, whether it’s this community, this current council or future councils – is it going to flood?”

Clr Angela Claydon said: “Northwich already suffers from flooding on a regular basis and I’m most concerned not just that these houses might flood if they’re built but that the building of them could cause the water to go elsewhere.”

The plans were approved by four votes to three, with two abstentions.

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