John Knight's March 2021 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

23 March 2021

Like many other towns in England, Macclesfield is under siege from speculative developers eager to build on every square foot of open land. All very well for our Conservative MP to say he opposes this development or that, but it is his own party’s government that has made it harder and harder for elected local councils to protect open spaces. 

Macclesfield Town Council is rightly urging Cheshire East Council to reject the current plans for King’s School original Westminster Road site - too many houses in too small a space, overlooking existing homes and not properly protecting the site’s heritage, including the War Memorial cricket pavilion. 

The Chelford Road site is also giving rise to serious concerns about both loss of wildlife habitat and traffic congestion. 

However, there seems to be a blind spot over the King’s School Fence Avenue site, whose green belt status was scandalously removed especially so the school could sell it for housing. When the government awarded the scheme to developers, they said it “blends into the existing landscape and reflects the character and style of the surrounding area”. Now we see the reality - green land ripped up and trees torn down for the sake of luxury housing. As a sop, we are promised that the site will include a bit of public parkland - going no way towards compensating for the loss of habitat and open green space. This development will actually sever a wildlife corridor providing access from the hills above town down to the River Bollin. It is also suggested that Smyth’s Bridge could be reopened to provide access from the new estate to the canal towpath; however, the Canal and River Trust has no budget to carry out this work. 

Rebuild on brownfield sites and refurbish old mills for homes that people can afford.

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