Mirrlees Fields Action Group

MAN Diesel has submitted an Outline Planning Application to the Council.

The application seeks permission for a housing development of 240 dwellings and some move-on industrial units. The proposed new development is directly adjacent to the Mirrlees Fields and will undoubtedly have an impact on the green space. The full application can be viewed on-line on the Stockport Planning website using the reference number DC/046179.

One of the documents available from the Council website appears below.
You can also download copies from here - we have included a list of links at the bottom of this page, including links to other planning documents.

In the plan below, the curved outline on the far left is the current new building; on the far right the characteristic angled roads on the right are Barlows Lane South and Bramhall Moor Lane, just before their junction.

masterplan.jpg

In the Location Plan, we can see these roads more clearly:

masterplan.jpg

David Gosling, as Chair of MFAG, has sent the following letter to the council:


Mirrlees Fields Action Group
4 Lomond Close
Stockport,
Cheshire,
SK2 7DY
3rd March 2011

Dear Sirs

This letter constitutes an initial response from the Mirrlees Fields Action Group to the MAN Diesel and Turbo UK Ltd Outline Planning Application DC 046179.

 These are our provisional responses submitted within the time allocated for public consultation. However, we intend to consult further with our members and to meet with the applicant. We, therefore, reserve the right to elaborate on, withdraw or amend these points in a full response following the next meeting of the Group.

1. Who we are

1.1 The Mirrlees Fields Action Group is a local residents’ community group and 'friends group' that was formed in 2007 and which represents over 500 members who are users of the area known as Mirrlees Fields - referred to as the 'open space' throughout the planning application and situated adjacent to the proposed development.

 1.2 The aim of the Mirrlees Fields Action Group is that Mirrlees Fields should become a high quality, well managed and safe public green space that will enhance the quality of life for local people. We hope that this area will become a public asset with improved access as well as the protection and enhancement of the bio-diversity in the area.

2. The strategic open space

2.1 Mirrlees Fields is designated as a Strategic Open Space which is currently in the ownership of the applicant, but discussions are currently ongoing to bring the Fields into some form of public ownership. The applicant is an active participant in these discussions and has declared that the company has no long term aspiration to retain ownership of this land. However, no legal agreement currently exists to affect a change of ownership and there is no reference to the future ownership of the open space within the supporting statements to the application.

2.2 The open space falls outside the red-line marking the boundary of the application, but the proposed development will have a long term impact on the future of the open space and the routes which cross it.

 2.3 The application makes many references to the open space principally as an amenity that the residents of the proposed development will be able to enjoy. It appears to ignore the fact that the site is already designated as a strategic open space and is an amenity enjoyed by existing local residents.

2.4 It is our contention that this application cannot be considered in isolation from its impact on the open space. PPS1 promotes the principles of good planning and the need for comprehensive development. This proposal should consider the whole area owned by the applicant in a comprehensive manner so that both the existing and future local residents have a high quality and sustainable environment. Not only should the application address the impact of the development on the Mirrlees Fields but it should put forward beneficial proposals for this space which will benefit residents and occupiers of the proposed development.

2.5 The comments below outline some of the issues that will arise from the creation of this development which we ask the Council and the planning authorities to consider.

3. Comments

3.1 We note that the application involves a change use from the current designation of employment land to a mix of housing and employment with a predominance of residential development. This is therefore not in accordance with the statutory development plan. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires planning decisions to be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. We do not consider the justifications in relation to housing supply and employment delivery are strong enough on their own and as such the application should be refused. A key material consideration must be to promote a comprehensive redevelopment of the site that promotes the enhancement of the strategic open space. We believe there must be a legally-binding commitment by the applicant to transfer ownership of the fields to a charitable trust with appropriate financial support to enable the trust to open the fields to public access and to maintain the fields for the foreseeable future. This would be a major step forward for all residents of Stockport Metropolitan Borough.

3.2 The application refers to the open space as an amenity for new residents, but for the area to become an amenity in reality
a) the right of access to the open space needs to be recognised in law
b) improvements to the fields need to be carried out for them to be a safe and attractive environment
c) an annual management fund is required to maintain fields.

3.3 We note that this is a site of considerable commercial value, and we request that benefits to the surrounding community be secured through Section 106 agreements to ameliorate the impact of the development on the locality which will create more pressure on the open space, surrounding roads and other local facilities.

3.4 The Stepping Hill and Hazel Grove area suffers from a lack of green open spaces according to national norms. This reinforces the case for taking this one and only opportunity to secure the Mirrlees Fields for public use for now and the future.

4. We ask that the following concerns be addressed:

4.1 Housing

a) We are concerned that the density of the proposed development is not in character with the surrounding residential streets. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

b) We request that the proportion of affordable and social housing be clarified and set at a level which is in consistent with the character of the surrounding area. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

c) We request that a high quality of design and environmental standards be specified by the Council to safeguard a sustainable future for the area. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

4.2 Traffic

a) We are very concerned about the significant impact of the development on traffic on Bramhall Moor Lane and surrounding streets, including New House Farm Estate. We do not think it is appropriate to use historical data relating to the factory site as a base-line since this application is requesting a change of use and car usage has increased considerably in recent years. The current road system is already stretched and motorists suffer from long queues at peak times. This development can only add to the total traffic volumes and the current congestion. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

b) We believe the statements about bus routes and train services to be misleading. The area is poorly served by buses (except those that go to the hospital) and the train service from Woodsmoor is already grossly overcrowded at peak times. Improvements to the bus service, the train service and the station would be necessary if bus and train travel are to be realistic alternatives to the use of cars. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

4.3 Footpaths and footpath safety

a) We are concerned that the very narrow footpaths on the two bridges over the railways on Bramhall Moor Lane are dangerous particularly for parents and children walking to school or on other journeys. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

b) The proposed road layout in the development would result in the outer perimeter road to the north and eastern boundaries of the site being immediately adjacent to the Fred Perry Way - an important borough-wide pedestrian route. Local residents (from on and off site) and other walkers using the footpath will become exposed to two way traffic. We request separation of the path from road by a suitable barrier. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

c) Significant improvements to the main bridleway between the site and Woodsmoor Station are needed if this is to be a safe and viable walking and cycling route throughout the year. The Mirrlees Fields Action Group wants to be fully involved in the design and implementation of these improvements. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

d) Improvements are needed to the Fred Perry Way, particularly from the north western point of the development site to the Kinross Avenue access point, so that this can become an all-weather route. The Mirrlees Fields Action Group wants to be fully involved in the design and implementation of these improvements. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

e) Boundary lines of the proposed development site are ambiguous in some of the the figures included in the Design and Access document, seeming to include the Fred Perry Way inside of the site’s boundary along its northern boundary. We request that confirmation is provided by the applicant that this public footpath is not included within the proposed site for development. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

4.4 Access to and from the Strategic Open Space

a) A comprehensive analysis is needed of the ways in which the open space - directly adjacent to the development - can be made accessible without risk to users and the amenity potential of the area be fully realised. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

b) We request that consideration be given to car parking for those using the open space. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

c) It is not clear whether the junction with Barlow Lane South will allow traffic to join the development from this direction. We believe that there should be a barrier to prevent Barlow Lane South becoming a through route. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

d) At present the Mirrlees Anglers Association have vehicular access to the anglers' pond which is currently leased from MAN Diesel. It is also necessary to anticipate the need for limited vehicular access for maintenance (annual mowing of the site has been recognised as being key to its unique character) and emergency vehicles on to the Fields. We request that the road layout be modified to allow this limited access to continue. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

4.5 Ecology

a) The applicant states in Section 15 of the Planning ApplicationDocument that there are no trees on the site and no adjacent trees or hedges. These statements are false. We require that commitments are made for protection be given to trees on the application site and on the surrounding fields, with particular attention being given to mature trees edging the Fred Perry Way that are within up to 5 metres of the boundary of the development site. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

b) The UDP policy relating to the protection of the strategic open space states that developments should "safeguard biodiversity and nature conservation area interests". We are concerned that having an adjacent residential area of up to 240 units will create pressure on the biodiversity of the green space area known as Mirrlees Fields. This new population will undoubtedly make use of this amenity and in doing so will have an impact on the ecology of the area. We request a full assessment of the likely impact on trees and wildlife and that consideration be given to the creation of protected areas for wildlife within the open space. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

c) The Planning Application document states in Section 13 that Protected and Priority Species will not be adversely affected on the development site and adjacent land. The Bat Survey document clearly states a need for further surveys to be conducted before any demolition occurs to ensure that both bat and breeding bird populations will be protected. We request assurances that such surveys will be conducted, and the results acted upon where necessary, prior to demolition. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

d) The applicant states that the risk of flooding is low. The Flood Risk Assessment does not appear to be directly concerned with, or to specifically reference, the adjacent Strategic Open Space. The experience of our members suggests that there is periodical flooding in certain areas of the Fields and we ask that appropriate precautions be taken to ensure these vulnerable areas are recognised and taken account of when flood protection measures are considered. We ask that if the suggestion in the application of the option for a for pond on the adjacent open land for flood protection is implemented that the Mirrlees Fields Action Group be fully involved in its design and location. The application should not be determined, refused or accepted, unless appropriate consideration is given to address these concerns.

To repeat, we intend to consult further with our members and to meet with the applicant within the next few days. We, therefore, reserve the right to elaborate on, withdraw or amend these points in a full response following the next meeting of the Group.

Yours faithfully,
 
David Gosling
Chair, Mirrlees Fields Action Group


Downloads and Links

Plans in JPG format:

Documents in PDF format: