Save Danes Moss

Leader and Deputy conversation June 22 claiming Danes Moss 'has limited environmental and ecological benefit'
Cheshire East leader and Deputy conversation Youtube picture

While it is good to see CEC’s leadership answering residents’ questions in a readily-accessible forum, it is very worrying indeed that they seem very ill-informed on the matters of Danes Moss/SMDA.

Cllrs Sam Corcoran and Craig Browne discussed the proposed development recently and this is available here for all to see:

It is well worth looking at what Cllr Browne said at around 42 minutes:

If the South Macclesfield Development Area were to be removed from the plan there is a risk that developers may succeed in bringing forward far less appropriate areas for development. Now the area identified in the local plan for development has limited environmental and ecological benefit and there's been an independent assessment of that to confirm that it's the case but against this has to be balanced the council's ability to use that part of the site which it owns for the delivery of some truly affordable housing so that's the balancing act that we're facing and those are the issues that we need to consider.

Cllr Browne, June 2022

Let’s consider some of these points:

1) Housing Targets

CEC is well ahead on housing targets. As of March 2021 It needed a supply of 11,278 houses to satisfy the 5-year target. It had commitments to 14,307, i.e. 3029 more than needed. They could remove the 950 houses from Danes Moss which are included in these figures and still have a supply of 5.92 years. To therefore say that the 5-year target is at risk is misleading. (Ref: Housing completions and supply summary, CEC March 2021)

2) Environmental and Ecological Benefit

The statements that the area “has limited environmental and ecological benefit” and that removal of the application could lead to “far less appropriate areas” being developed are simply staggering. This site must be one of the most inappropriate sites for development in Macclesfield, if not Cheshire. Has he ever walked over the site proposed for the SMDA I wonder, as this would suggest not? Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England and a group of environmental experts have already objected to the development with strong statements:

Natural England: 

'the application could have potential significant effects on Danes Moss Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) ' and  'Natural England is of the view that the environmental significance of this development site has not been fully recognised.'

Natural England response, Danes Moss planning application 2022

Cheshire Wildlife Trust: in referring to Natural England’s statements say:

“This is extremely concerning and corroborates our concerns in regard to the inadequacy of the EIA submitted to support the outline planning application (17/1874M) and the documents submitted to support this reserved matters application. We strongly support Natural England in their request for additional information. We also share their extreme disappointment “that a development of this scale is not seeking opportunities to deliver an ambitious wetland retention and enhancement plan in order to achieve biodiversity net gain and bolster the Nature Recovery Network in Cheshire East”

and also advise this is given further consideration..

This is further to their original submission that:

“We have read through the Environmental Statement – Ecology (March 2017) and studied the proposed layout and we have visited the site on several occasions, most recently in June 2017. We are of the opinion that a minimum of 28 hectares of the site would meet the criteria for selection as a Local Wildlife Site and consequently we consider at least 51% of the development site to be a potential LWS (pLWS). This is likely to be a conservative estimate. LWS criteria met: H1 Lowland deciduous woodland H8 Marshy Grassland H9 Acid Grassland H11 Restorable grassland H25 Hedgerows S6 Reptiles S1 Butterflies”

The group of environmentalists, including respected subject matter experts recently wrote to Cllr Corcoran and included:

Simultaneously Danes Moss is home to thousands of other species – mammals, birds, insects, plants, fungi, mosses and lichens. Many of these are rare and declining nationwide. We believe they have a right to continue to flourish at a site where they may have lived continuously since the last Ice Age.

Open letter to Cllr Corcoran, 6th July 2022

Cllr Browne mentions having ‘independent assessment’ confirming his statement. Please can we see this – and share it with CWT and NE too, as I’m sure they’ll be very interested? And please come and visit the site with the people that actually understand it and see for yourself just how wrong you are.

3) Affordable housing

Has anyone explained to Cllr Browne that this is probably the worst site for provision of affordable houses? As a result of the projected costs of developing such a problematic site and the associated infrastructure, the percentage of affordable houses proposed here was reduced to 11% from the usual 30%. That’s 104 houses rather than 285! So in going ahead with this site Cheshire East would actually get 181 less affordable houses…

Are the leaders being very poorly advised, as some of the information that is being propagated here is very misleading? They owe it to themselves, and us, to properly acquaint themselves with the facts, based on very serious information provided by independent experts.

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