South Macclesfield Development Area

This webpage is provided by the Economic Development service of Cheshire East Council to provide information relating to the site known as the South Macclesfield Development Area ( SMDA ).

The Economic Development service has a role in leading economic development and regeneration and is the facilitator of the SMDA project, acting independently to the Local Planning Authority (LPA). The LPA is a separate, regulatory service, which is empowered by law to exercise planning functions, including determining planning applications, such as those submitted for the SMDA site.

The information contained within this webpage is for information only and is not part of the planning decision process nor does it provide any comment on or consideration of any live planning applications.


The Council has been working with TG Limited to deliver the  SMDA Allocation. TG Limited disposed of its interest to BDW Trading Ltd (Barratt Developments) last year.

Barratt Developments is a national housebuilder already delivering part of the wider  SMDA allocation.

Cheshire East Council Economic Development service is continuing discussions with Barratt Developments to address issues and concerns that have been raised with the development proposals for South Macclesfield Development Area. 

In summer this year, it is intended that Barratt Developments will be carrying out consultation regarding the outcomes of environmental investigations and studies that are taking place at the site currently.

Subject to those consultations, it is expected that Barratt Developments would then submit further detailed information into the current reserved matters applications for determination by the Local Planning Authority later in the year. 

The  SMDA is located at the southern edge of Macclesfield.

It was first earmarked for development by Macclesfield Borough Council in 1997 and is allocated for housing and a range of supporting commercial and community uses in the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy, which was adopted in July 2017. 

The  SMDA site was allocated to provide around 1,050 new homes, together with shops, green spaces and a new link road which together would support Macclesfield’s growth. 

The South Macclesfield Development Area, taken from the Local Plan Strategy document
The South Macclesfield Development Area, taken from the Local Plan Strategy document

Part of the allocated  SMDA site is already being developed by a national house builder. The 4.39 ha site was granted planning permission in 2017 for 150 housing units – now known as ‘Silk Water Green’. 

Most of the remaining parts of the  SMDA allocation are subject to joint development proposals prepared by the council, in collaboration with an adjoining landowner.

These proposals include up to 950 homes, a new school, retail development, employment floorspace and the relocation of the existing reclamation yard which forms part of the site.  

These proposals were granted Outline Planning Permission in 2019 and are currently the subject of several reserved matters planning applications, which will be determined by the Local Planning Authority at a later date.


1997 – Site earmarked for development in the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan

2004 – Site earmarked for development in the 2004 Macclesfield Borough Local Plan

During the preparation of the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy, the SMDA featured in the following consultations:

2010 – Core Strategy Issues and Options

2012 – Draft Macclesfield Town Strategy

2013 – Shaping our Future: A Development Strategy for Jobs and Sustainable Communities

2013 – Pre-Submission Core Strategy

2014 – Local Plan Strategy Submission Document

2016 – Local Plan Strategy Proposed Changes Version (2016)

April 2017 – Outline planning application submitted

July 2017 – Local Plan Strategy approved by Full Council – SMDA included as strategic site

August 2017 – Strategic Planning Board discusses the outline planning application (Planning ref: 17/1874M) and delegates authority to approve the application to the Head of Planning

January 2019Outline planning permission approved with conditions

April 2019 – Phase one reserved matters application submitted

January 2022 – remaining reserved matters applications registered


The site (shown below) has been granted outline planning permission. This means that the principle of development has been established.

A map showing the phases of the proposed scheme
A map showing the phases of the proposed scheme

The next step is the consideration and determination of an application (or set of applications) to cover ‘reserved matters’. 

These are the more detailed aspects of the development plans, such as access – but noting that the principal means of access to the site which were approved as part of the outline application – appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale.

Outline planning applications are used to gain an understanding as to whether the nature of a development is acceptable.  This can help ensure viability up front, as the costs of undertaking site investigations and preparing studies and plans on the detail of the development can be considerable.

A full explanation of the differences between outline planning permission and reserved matters can be found on the national Planning Portal website.

The following reserved matters planning applications are to be considered by the council’s Strategic Planning Board in due course:

Reserved matters planning applications to be considered by the council's Strategic Planning Board
PhaseDescriptionReserved matters application

Phase 1

Primary infrastructure works comprising of enabling works, new highways, footpaths/cycleways, public open spaces, ecology areas and associated hard and soft landscaping, drainage and servicing works.


Phase 2

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 4,000 square metres of retail (Use Class A1)



Phase 3

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 120 dwellings (Use Class C3)


Phase 4

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 180 dwellings (Use Class C3)


Phase 5

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – a one form entry primary school (1,300 square metres - Use Class D1)


Phase 6

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 146 dwellings (Use Class C3)


Phase 7

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 325 dwellings (Use Class C3) 


Phase 8

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – 179 dwellings (Use Class C3)


Phase 9

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale – relocation of existing demolition / reclamation yard operational facilities (Use Class Sui Generis)


Phase 10

Details of access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for Phase 10 - relocation of existing demolition / reclamation yard operational facilities (Use Class Sui Generis)


Site location

The site is located around two miles south of Macclesfield town centre and lies between Congleton Road and London Road, to the south-west of Moss Lane.

At present, the majority of the site consists of extensive areas of scrubland, undeveloped grassland and woodland of varying ages. Much of the site is underlain by peat.

It is separated from Danes Moss Nature Reserve by a landfill site and as part of the proposed layout for the scheme, the majority of the development will be north of the planned link road, and extensive green space will be to the south of the road.

The proximity of the Danes Moss Nature Reserve, Site of Special Scientific interest ( SSSI ) is a key consideration for any proposal for SMDA .   

The location of the SDMA site.
 The site location.

Land Ownership

Including the sports pitches, the council owns approximately 55% of the total land within the site outlined in red in the diagram above. The council owns around 38% of the land falling within identified development parcels.

The majority of the development land subject to the planning applications is outside the council’s control.

SDMA site out of the Council's control

The council has in the past taken the lead role in providing the new link road and the development’s green infrastructure but is now working with Barratt Developments on a revised delivery strategy.

In formulating a revised strategy the council and Barratt Developments will follow the appropriate geo-technical and ecological solutions to produce proposals that will minimise any environmental impact. 

Under the proposals, the existing playing fields will be kept and improved and a large area of land in council ownership will be established as an ecological reserve and as structured public open space. 

Environmental considerations

Evidence suggests that the peat on the land is not currently active or growing – this is likely to have been the case for at least 140 years.

But the environmental considerations for a project such as this are complex with many interdependencies and the council has commissioned reports into the various aspects.

This includes a peatland carbon status report, which has been written by independent environmental consultants and sets out the key issues relating to the development of peatland at SMDA.

An environmental statement was submitted in 2017 with the outline planning application and can be read via the planning portal.

The council has since decided to present further detail to the local planning authority following responses received from key planning consultees and due to the increased emphasis of climate change in national and local policy and planning decisions since the development was initially considered.

Initially the council proposed to submit an addendum to the environmental statement to the outline planning application. However, on the advice of Natural England regarding the scope of that statement, further site investigations, hydrological studies and analyses are now being carried out to inform the revised development strategy. 

Once finalised, these reports will be published by the Local Planning Authority in due course.


Comments and representations were able to be made on both the outline planning application and reserved matters applications, and these are considered as part of the decision making process.

Representations were also able to be made through the Local Plan Strategy process.

There were 13 rounds of public consultation on the proposals in the Local Plan and the council received a total of more than 60,000 comments during these to arrive at the finalised Local Plan Strategy. Hundreds of strategic sites were evaluated, and the Local Plan eventually contained 50 strategic sites, three strategic locations and eight safeguarded sites.

Access to information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) entitles you to ask us for any recorded information which we keep.

If you wish to make a request in relation to SMDA, please check if the information you are looking for is already available on our FOI disclosure log using search terms such as ‘South Macclesfield Development Area’.

The disclosure log publishes the majority of FOI requests that we have responded to since 1 May 2018. 

In line with the Government’s Transparency Agenda, there is a presumption in favour of the disclosure of information. However, this is balanced with a need to ensure the confidentiality of some information relating to such areas as personal data, commercial interests, legal processes, and other instances where disclosure would not be in the public interest.

In certain circumstances, requests for information may be refused.

The council does not issue reports which are yet to be finalised. This is to protect work a public authority may have in progress by delaying disclosure until a final or completed version can be made available. This allows it to finish ongoing work without interruption and interference from outside the authority.

It is also to provide some protection from having to spend time and resources explaining or justifying ideas, options and analyses that are not, and may never be, final.

Equally, members of the public and other stakeholders should not rely on incomplete and unpublished documentation to inform their responses to any planning application consultation. 

The council is aware that a pre-publication document ‘South Macclesfield Development Area: Assessment of Peatland Carbon Status’ has been unofficially and prematurely released into the public domain.

SMDA Carbon Status Report 2021 (PDF, 11MB)

This document is one component of ongoing work to provide further detail on environmental considerations, mentioned above, to be published for public consultation as part of the planning application process, when this work is completed. 

Once the complete set of additional information is published, members of the public and other stakeholders will have 28 days to respond to the planning application and all associated publications.

Next steps for the development

The current reserved matters applications for the SMDA are subject to the standard processes of public consultation and engagement with statutory bodies.

The applications will be determined through the regulatory process and will be considered by the Local Planning Authority and presented to the council’s Strategic Planning Board in due course.

Questions and answers

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No, the SMDA is not being built on any part of Danes Moss Nature Reserve SSSI . The site is on a different parcel of land largely separated from Danes Moss Nature Reserve  SSSI by a landfill site and as part of the proposed layout for the scheme, the majority of the development will be north of the planned link road, and extensive green space will be to the south of the road.

Cheshire East’s Local Plan Strategy was adopted in 2017 following consultation and sets out the overall vision and planning strategy for development in the borough.

The strategy identifies strategic sites and strategic locations that will accommodate most of the new development needed, and includes the SMDA, which is allocated for housing and a range of supporting commercial and community uses.

The council and Barratt Developments are continuing discussions to agree a revised delivery strategy.  

If the council did not proceed with this development on its land, the private sector could take the lead and the council would have less control over the ultimate development of the land outside the council’s ownership.

The council’s policies on sustainability and carbon have evolved substantially since the SMDA site was originally allocated in the Local Plan Strategy and granted outline planning permission.

In May 2019, the council committed to becoming carbon neutral in our own operations by 2025, and to assist with reducing the borough’s carbon footprint. 

In January 2022, we made a further pledge to make Cheshire East a carbon neutral borough by 2045.

The council remains committed to protecting and renewing peatland and to the creation of new wetland areas across the borough.

The council’s Carbon Neutral Action Plan 2020-2025 includes a target to ‘develop and implement restoration and/or management plans for 100% of peatlands in Cheshire East’.

To support this plan and the council’s Environment Strategy, a peatlands report was commissioned in 2021 from the Cheshire Wildlife Trust to give an independent, professional baseline report.

This was in order to provide a single reference source for peatland in Cheshire East to inform future consideration by the council and others.

In relation to the SMDA specifically, the Peatlands of Cheshire East report states: ‘Where strategic development allocations have already been approved (e.g. the South Macclesfield Development Area) the loss of stored carbon and any GHG emissions associated with the development of deep peat should be considered as part of the planning decision process, with consideration to how offsetting increased emissions can be demonstrated.’

In summary, this position indicates that peatlands across the borough should be restored or managed wherever possible but for allocated sites, impacts associated with loss of peatland should be appropriately assessed and mitigated through the planning system.

Specialist advice has been obtained from engineering consultants on the status of the peat material on the SMDA site and the implications of development in relation to the net carbon position.

In 2014, the council created an alternative service delivery vehicle (ASDV) to deliver development at a number of strategic housing sites where the council had a land ownership interest.

The ASDV was a company wholly-owned by the council and known as Engine of the North ( EOTN ) and SMDA was one of the key projects allocated to it. 

EOTN  was one of several ASDVs created by the council around this time to deliver a range of council services.

In 2019, after carrying out a review of its ASDVs, the council brought a number of functions back into the authority and as part of this, the functions of  EOTN were transferred to the Economic Development service of the council and have been managed by this service since.

As  EOTN had been named on various planning applications and in a number of legal agreements, the company has not been wound up, but its sole director is now a council officer acting upon the instructions of the council, and it no longer performs any active function.

The council has made a number of decisions over the past decade to progress the scheme:

Decision made to date about the South Macclesfield Development Area
DateDecision TakerTitleObjective



South Macclesfield Development Area

To endorse vision and delivery strategy and to approve commencement of work



Cheshire East Local Plan Borough Development Strategy

To approve the Borough Development Strategy, which includes the allocation at SMDA, for public consultation.



South Macclesfield Development Area

To note options, development objectives and master planning and support strategy on land acquisition.


Cabinet Member for Finance

South Macclesfield Development Area – Land Acquisition

To acquire land within the development site


Portfolio Holder for Regeneration

Proposed Collaboration Agreement at South Macclesfield Development Area

To enter into collaboration agreement with TG Limited to comprehensively bring the land at SMDA forward.


Strategic Planning Board

Cheshire East Local Plan

To recommend to Cabinet adoption of the Local Plan which allocates the land at SMDA for development (LPS13).



Cheshire East Local Plan

To recommend to Council adoption of the Local Plan which allocates the land at SMDA for development (LPS13)



Cheshire East Local Plan

To adopt the Local Plan which allocated the land at SMDA for development (LPS13).


Strategic Planning Board

17/1874M Land East of Congleton Road

To consider outline planning application (permission granted in Jan 2019).



South Macclesfield Development Area

To approve delivery strategy including land assembly, infrastructure agreement, grant funding arrangements and disposal strategy

The council has many distinct and legally separate functions, all of which operate within their own separate rules and regulations. 

The Local Planning Authority is one of those functions identified in both national legislation but also within the council’s constitution

Further explanation and guidance can be found on the council’s website and on the government’s website.

The Local Planning Authority independently determines the merits of planning applications in the context of legal requirements, planning policy, consultees’ response and any relevant representations – irrespective of land ownership. 

This is particularly relevant where the council is itself the applicant / landowner, which is not uncommon. For example, when determining an application for an extension to a council-owned school building.

Previous estimates of total expenditure for the project were £34.6m and is funded through a Housing Infrastructure Fund grant from Homes England, infrastructure contributions and capital receipts.

The focus of future spend will be in providing the proposed primary road infrastructure needed to unlock development parcels.  This includes:

  • New link road from Moss Lane to A536 Congleton Road
  • Ground improvement to the link road area
  • Improvement of Moss Lane between A523 London Road and the start of the new Link Road
  • Landscaping and play areas
  • Junction improvements at Congleton Road/Moss Lane
  • Junction improvements at Moss Lane/London Road
  • Statutory utilities and services infrastructure

The council recognises that within the current economic climate these costs will have increased significantly and following the results of the hydrological study, further work is required to provide up to date costs, that will account for inflation and any changes in the delivery strategy. 

The outline planning permission has approved new junctions on Congleton Road and Moss Lane to provide access into the site.

In addition, changes are proposed to road junctions at Congleton Road / Moss Lane and between Moss Lane and London Road.  A financial contribution is also proposed to improvements to the Flowerpot junction to the north of the site.

Page last reviewed: 24 March 2023