Reluctant approval

3:10pm Thursday 28th November 2013

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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