Response from Willaston Green Gap Action Team to Cheshire East Place Shaping Consultation

29th September 2011

We write to reaffirm our total opposition to any proposal which would remove, adjust or amend the Green Gap which was designated by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council in 1993. It has restrained what otherwise may have been unlimited development which would have adversely affected the quality of life in Crewe, Nantwich and in particular the surrounding villages.

At the Core Strategy stage of your Local Development Framework we delivered letters signed by no less than 1231 inhabitants of the village of Willaston. This contrasts
tellingly with the 451 responses you received from the remaining 380,000 inhabitants of the rest of the Cheshire East area. All our signatories gave reasons for their wish to preserve the Green Gap in its present form.

You have now moved on to the Place Shaping stage of the Local Development Framework and this has included exhibitions and meetings.  It is inconceivable that you can dispute the fact that the overwhelming feeling of the inhabitants of Crewe, Nantwich and the
villages which surround it are both anxiety and, indeed, determination that the Green Gap in its present form should be preserved. Further, they are supported in this objective by:

  • Edward Timpson MP who has written to you to confirm that he supports our efforts “ to retain the integrity of the Green Gap”;
  • Our locally elected Councillors and many others representing Crewe and Nantwich constituents;
  • All local Parish Councils.

We should, at this stage, point out that we are deeply concerned by the fact that there are no locally elected Councillors in the Cabinet of your Council. We understand that the Cabinet was selected by the leader of the Council who represents a constituency many miles
away. Given the distribution of population, this cannot be characterised as proportionate representation, particularly when many of the proposals appear to have been presented to our local Councillors as a fait accompli. For example, the document entitled “a Plan for your Future” contains a projected population growth for Crewe of 37%. The local Councillors
first learned of this when they saw the glossy and expensively produced brochure in which this aspiration was embodied.

We now set out other matters which continue to concern us and which you have signally failed to address despite letters which we have sent to you and the efforts of those who have attended the exhibitions and meetings in the current phase. Those matters are: 

  • Was your publication “All Change for Crewe” produced by or in conjunction with consultants?  In any event,  please - since this will involve Council Tax payers money - tell us how much you have paid or are due to pay to consultants to date in relation to the Local Development Framework
  • You have announced that you hope to oversee the creation of 12000 new jobs in Crewe.
         What is your evidence for this projection in the light of the concession by the Head of Regeneration on 11 July that this was merely “ an aspiration” Surely you realise that there is already significant unemployment in this area. Where is the evidence of demand?
  • You concede that the infrastructure - notably the traffic system - is inadequate. How is it to be improved – and when? No doubt you will say that you hope to receive a      contribution from developers but this would barely scratch the surface of this chronic problem which would be seriously exacerbated by any significant development in the foreseeable future.
  • You have accepted that there are brown field sites in the area which could, if necessary,
    accommodate 1000 new homes. Can you give an assurance that these sites will be developed first? Are you now retreating from your previous commitment to build 60% of new houses on previously developed land?
  • How many empty houses are there in Crewe? A recent figure which you produced gave a figure of 6,572. What proposals are there to utilise this accommodation?

We completely understand that it is imperative that you formulate a development plan and we recognise the invidious position of the Council in requiring a local development plan of any quality to avoid decisions being made by other means but we urge you to preserve the integrity of the Green Gap in its present form and thereby to respect the views of the local inhabitants and to observe the demographic and economic realities in this area.