A COMPANY which has been operating unlawfully for years at Cranage has been refused planning permission.

Holmes Chapel Fencing and Timber applied to Cheshire East Council in 2022 for permission for B8 storage and distribution use at Glebe Farm.

Today (Wednesday) the application was refused by the southern planning committee on the grounds it is inappropriate development within the open countryside and that a countryside location is not essential for the operation of the business.

Planning officer Daniel Evans told the committee: “The site doesn’t have a lawful use for employment purposes and there is no planning permission in place.”

He said planning officers didn’t consider the development met any of the tests to be considered appropriate for the open countryside.

Cranage Parish councillor Adrian Woodfine-Jones told the meeting: “Cranage Parish Council has consistently raised objection to the operation of the business at Glebe Farm.”

He said the parish council had reported its concerns to Cheshire East’s planning enforcement team.

When asked by committee members why Cheshire East had taken no action if the matter had been reported to enforcement previously, Mr Evans said: “We’ve got this planning application and we’re here to determine it today and then enforcement action may follow, subject to any appeal decision on the site if they do lodge an appeal.”

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Linda BuchananCllr Linda Buchanan (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Linda Buchanan (Shavington, Lab) asked: “If it’s refused, will what is there now have to stop trading?”

Mr Evans replied: “There will be a window of six months where they can appeal the decision and then, following that, it goes to enforcement.”

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Andrew KolkerCllr Andrew Kolker (Image: Cheshire East Council)Ward councillor Andrew Kolker (Con) said: “It's difficult, because I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to put a successful business in jeopardy.

“It seems to be busy, it's there, it's working and it deserves to continue in some form.”

He said if the application was refused, ‘I sincerely hope the economy and growth directorate will help this business find alternative suitable premises’.

He added: “Having said that, we've got to recognise this is in the open countryside on land that hasn't been previously developed… and it's been operating unlawfully for a few years.

“So why should we make an exception is the question that we have to ask ourselves when determining this application - and I honestly can't see any reason why we should make an exception or can make an exception.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey (Audlem, Con) said: “I'm clear, in planning terms, this application doesn't meet the requirement for approval and therefore happy to move refusal.”

The proposal to refuse was seconded by Sandbach councillor Laura Crane (Lab).

Nine councillors voted to refuse the application and one abstained.