Policy PG3: Green belt

8.38 The council recognises the important role of the Green Belt in the borough, particularly in preventing its towns and settlements from merging into one another, safeguarding the countryside and concentrating development into its urban areas.  The National Planning Policy Framework states that 'the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and permanence'.

8.39 Cheshire East has around 400 square kilometres of land designated as Green Belt, located in the northern and south-eastern parts of the borough. These form part of the Green Belts surrounding Greater Manchester and the Potteries conurbations.  Within the southern and eastern parts of the borough, all of our major settlements are located beyond the outer edge of the Green Belt surrounding the Potteries.  However, in the north of the borough, the Green Belt surrounding Greater Manchester is much wider and a number of significant settlements are inset within the Green Belt. Historically, the Green Belt boundaries were drawn very tightly around these settlements, leaving little space for future development.

8.40 Draft proposals for Green Belt in the area were first drawn up in the 1960s to prevent the outward spread of development from Greater Manchester and the Potteries.  Detailed boundaries for the North Cheshire Green Belt were defined through a series of Local Plans in the 1980s and detailed boundaries for the South Cheshire Green Belt were defined in the 1980s and early 1990s.

8.41The general extent of the existing Green Belt will be maintained, but to achieve sustainable development over a period of several decades, some alterations to the detailed Green Belt boundaries around settlements in both the north and south of the borough have been necessary through this Local Plan Strategy.


 Policy PG 3

Green Belt

Green Belt is a designation for land around large built-up areas, which aims to keep land permanently open or largely undeveloped.

  1. The purposes of the Green Belt are to:
    1. check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas;
    2. prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
    3. safeguard the countryside from encroachment;
    4. preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
    5. assist urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
  2. Within the Green Belt, planning permission will not be granted for inappropriate development, except in very special circumstances, in accordance with national policy.
  3. The construction of new buildings is inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are
    1. buildings for agriculture and forestry;
    2. provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
    3. the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
    4. the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
    5. limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; or
    6. limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.
  4. Certain other forms of development are also not inappropriate in Green Belt provided they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt. These are:
    1. mineral extraction;
    2. engineering operations;
    3. local transport infrastructure that can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
    4. the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction; and
    5. development brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order. 
  5. The extent of the existing Green Belt (1)  remains unchanged, apart from the removal of land from the Green Belt associated with the following sites (shown in Figure 8.1):
    1. Site LPS 14 ‘Land East of Fence Avenue, Macclesfield’
    2. Site LPS 15 ‘Land at Congleton Road, Macclesfield'
    3. Site LPS 16 ‘Land south of Chelford Road, Macclesfield’
    4. Site LPS 17 ‘Gaw End Lane, Macclesfield’
    5. Site LPS 18 ‘Land between Chelford Road and Whirley Road, Macclesfield’
    6. Safeguarded Land LPS 19 ‘South West Macclesfield'
    7. Site LPS 24 ‘Radway Green Extension, Alsager'
    8. Site LPS 33 ‘North Cheshire Growth Village, Handforth East'
    9. Site LPS 34 'Land between Clay Lane and Sagars Road, Handforth’
    10. Safeguarded Land LPS 35 ‘North Cheshire Growth Village Extension’
    11. Sites LPS 36(A), (B) and (C) ‘North West Knutsford’
    12. Site LPS 38 ‘Land south of Longridge, Knutsford’
    13. Safeguarded Land LPS 39 ‘Land South of Tabley Road, Knutsford’
    14. Safeguarded Land LPS 40 ‘Land North of Tabley Road, Knutsford’
    15. Safeguarded Land LPS 41 ‘Land adjacent to Booths Hall, Knutsford’
    16. Site LPS 48 ‘Land adjacent to Hazelbadge Road, Poynton’
    17. Site LPS 49 ‘Land at Sprink Farm, Poynton’
    18. Site LPS 50 ‘Land south of Chester Road, Poynton’
    19. Site LPS 51 ‘Adlington Business Park Extension, Poynton’
    20. Safeguarded Land LPS 52 ‘Woodford Aerodrome, Poynton'
    21. Site LPS 54 ‘Royal London including land to the west of Alderley Road, Wilmslow’
    22. Site LPS 55 ‘Wilmslow Business Park'
    23. Site LPS 56 ‘Land at Little Stanneylands, Wilmslow’
    24. Site LPS 57 ‘Heathfield Farm (allocation), Wilmslow’
    25. Safeguarded Land LPS 58 ‘Land at Heathfield Farm, Wilmslow’
    26. Safeguarded Land LPS 59 ‘Land at Upcast Lane / Cumber Lane, Wilmslow’
  6. In addition to these areas listed for removal from the Green Belt, it may also be necessary to identify additional non-strategic sites to be removed in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document.
  7. Green Belt boundaries will be identified on the Adopted Policies Map of the Local Plan.

Provision of sufficient areas of open space to the south and east of Hollyhedge Farmhouse to maintain its open rural setting;Provision of a substantial landscaped edge to the south/south east of the development parcel immediately to the south of the railway line (on the opposite side of Main Road to Hollyhedge Farm).  This should combine a mix of copse and individual tree planting contained by a new native hedgerow.  At the point nearest Hollyhedge Farm in the south eastern corner, a copse should be created.  It should include woodland planting on the western edge of the parcel, tying in with the woodland buffer of the Basford East site; Provision of open space and appropriate parkland landscaping alongside the access/drive and to the south of Crewe Hall Farmhouse and associated barnProvision of an area of greenspace to the east of Stowford hamlet, retaining the existing pond, trees and other positive planting as a key space within the development; 


Justification

8.42 As set out in Chapter The Case for Growth and Overall Development Strategy, and evidenced through the Housing Development Study (2015), the Employment Land Review (2012) and the Alignment of Economic, Employment and Housing Strategy Report (2015) there are significant identified needs for market and affordable housing, as well as for new employment land provision within Cheshire East.

8.43 The National Planning Policy Framework requires that 'Local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area' and that 'Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless: (i) any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or (ii) specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted''.

8.44 The National Planning Policy Framework also states 'Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan'.

8.45 The Green Belt Assessment Update (2015) has considered the contribution each parcel of Green Belt land adjoining settlement boundaries makes to the purposes of the Green Belt.  In the north of the borough, there is very little scope to meet these needs from towns and villages inset within the Green Belt boundary, or from urban areas inside the Green Belt boundary.  As set out in the Green Belt Assessment Update, a proportion of the proposed development arising from development needs within areas inset within the North Cheshire Green Belt is already channelled to locations within Cheshire East beyond the outer Green Belt boundary. Directing additional development to locations beyond the outer Green Belt boundary would lead to unsustainable patterns of development and would not provide sufficient new development in the areas of need.

8.46 The Green Belt has been a very successful instrument in limiting the expansion of urban areas and encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.  In addition, many of the settlements do not have a significant industrial legacy and are not blighted by large areas of derelict industrial land contributing to a potential supply of appropriately re-usable land for redevelopment. Consequently, there are not sufficient sites likely to be available to deliver enough market and affordable housing to meet anywhere near the identified housing needs and not enough opportunities for key additions to the employment sites portfolio.

8.47 Without alterations to the detailed Green Belt boundaries, the amount of new development that could be planned for in the north of the borough would be very low. It is considered that such a low level of development would have severe consequences including:

8.48 The importance of allocating land to go some way to meeting the identified development needs in the north of the borough, combined with the consequences for sustainable development of not doing so, constitutes the exceptional circumstances required to justify alteration of the existing detailed Green Belt boundaries, whilst maintaining the overall general extent of the Green Belt.

8.49 In the south of the borough, there is a particular need to allow an extension of the Radway Green employment area in the Green Belt. This is a particularly successful business site which has diversified from its munitions origins, is short of available space land and is well located near to the M6 Motorway.

Access a larger version of Figure 8.1 General extent of the existing green belt showing sites removed through the Local Plan Strategy (PDF, 1.75MB) (Opens in a new window)
Figure 8.1 General extent of the existing green belt showing sites removed through the Local Plan Strategy (PDF, 1.75MB) (Opens in a new window)

 Key Evidence

  1. Cheshire East Green Belt Assessment Update
  2. New Green Belt and Strategic Open Gaps Study 
  3. Alignment of Economic, Employment and Housing Strategy Report
  4. Housing Development Study
  5. Employment Land Review

(1) As defined in the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich Local Plan, the Congleton Borough Local Plan and the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan