Macclesfield Civic Society

 

 

Working for a town to be proud of

 

 

Keith Smith – 57 Orme Crescent – Tytherington – Macclesfield – SK10 2HU – 01625 424101

 

 

 

Cheshire East Borough Council

 

Development Management

 

Dear Sirs

 

APPLICATIONS 18/2665M (variation of conditions) AND 18/2662M (reserved matters) for REDEVELOPMENT OF BARRACKS MILL, BLACK LANE, MACCLESFIELD FOR CEDAR INVEST.

 

I refer to the above mentioned applications and my earlier comments posted on the web-site.

 

We note the recent approval of application 18/2665M and are disappointed that the objections on the grounds that changes to the carefully negotiated conditions imposed in the appeal decision bring with it the prospect of further harm to the vitality and viability of the Macclesfield Town Centre have been discounted. Although the changes may appear minor, as argued by the developer, the potential increase in convenience floor space within the scheme is a step backwards and represents an undesirable erosion of planning control given that the example may be repeated by others.

 

Having studied the latest amended plans and reviewed the documentation submitted I offer the following, final comments on the reserved matters application.

 

Landscaping Plan

 

There appears to be only a token amount of landscaping envisaged within the extensive parking area which would do little to enhance the setting of the proposed buildings or soften the impact of the hard surfaced areas. Landscaping along the River Bollin boundary would require greater attention not only to soften the impact of development when viewed from the Middlewood Way but also screen the run of sheet piling envisaged to retain the raised ground levels forming the basis of the parking areas. Little landscaping is envisaged to soften the impact of the development upon the occupiers of dwellings on the south side of Withyfold Drive- the somewhat stark fencing already erected does little to deal with this issue. The plan details do not appear to accord with the vision for the site set out in the axonometric drawing submitted as part of the Design and Access Statement – the discrepancy requires rectification. Overall the quality of the landscaping submission is poor. The revised plans do not alter the Society’s views and our italic text objection still stands.

 

 

Layout

 

 

There is a substantial change from the indicative scheme which supported the appeal proposals. The buildings are re-oriented to face The Silk Road at right angles thereby increasing their visual impact – thus reinforcing the comments and concerns with regard to landscaping and visual impact. No crossing of the River Bollin by way of a new footbridge is shown – this has implications for access by non-car modes and detracts from the stated intentions of the developer at outline stage. No reason is given for this change. Service access is now (apart from unit 1) to be taken from a service road running around the rear of the buildings with parallel parking for delivery vehicles adjacent to each unit – we have concerns about the space available for loading/unloading, storage of refuse or stock together with the introduction of significant noise and disturbance for the occupiers of dwellings along Withyfold Drive. (See later comments on noise). The Society’s views are unchanged on this aspect and our objection is maintained.

 

 

Elevations and Sections

 

 

We note that the final choice of colour and appearance of brickwork and cladding are yet to be agreed – there would be a high proportion of metal cladding on the rear elevations which would impact upon the visual amenities of nearby residents in Withyfold Drive (see earlier comments on landscaping). Overall the design appears utilitarian with little effort to provide visual enhancement for this important site alongside The Silk Road and Middlewood Way.

 

 

 

The sections through the site show how visible the service road (and activity thereon) will be from dwellings on Withyfold Drive. Fencing is shown as an acoustic barrier with trees in private gardens which are off-site and not under the control of the applicant – is it intended to increase tree cover ? Contrast the details of sections with the axonometric plan submitted with the Design and Access Statement. The Sections also appear to show the service road and parking for service vehicles to be narrower than as shown on the layout plan. The Society reaffirms its earlier comments – the revised plans give no details of the treatment of the retaining walls at the rear of the site – it is possible that they could and should be treated in some way to deal with noise arising from within the service yards and vehicle emissions in order to safeguard the amenities of residents living in Withyfold Drive. Otherwise our objection is maintained.

 

 

 

Design and Access Statement

 

 

 

The axonometric drawing (referred to above) appears to show much more landscaping overall than the detailed landscaping plan, particularly on the River Bollin frontage – which is correct ? No details are shown of the retaining wall along the river frontage – if sheet piling will landscaping take place in front of it – if so would this meet the requirements of the Environment agency for access and flood prevention ?

 

 

On access it is stated that service vehicles visiting unit 1 will not leave via Black Lane but rather re-enter The Silk Road using the egress as shown on the layout plan – this is a departure from the servicing arrangements proposed at the outline application stage and is not reflected in the current Transport Assessment (see also below). It is noted that the servicing arrangement for Unit 1 has been altered so that all service vehicles will now leave via Black Lane. This is welcome from a traffic aspect. Our other comments remain valid.

 

Contaminated Land Assessment

 

Despite being raised as an argument in favour of retail development it is noted that after site demolition and clearance works there is still no definitive studyis this still to be carried out ?

 

Transport Assessment

 

At outline application stage the Transport Assessment identified some highway impacts at the Silk Road/Hibel Road junction. The emerging Local Plan Highways Impact Analysis for Macclesfield identifies a need for major improvement of this junction but the final form is not yet decided. There are current suggestions that improvements to the roundabout may be abandoned in favour of traffic signals which would prevent customers’ and service vehicles from returning northwards via The Silk Road as “U-turns” would not be possible. This potential change has not been assessed, neither has the impact of the altered servicing arrangements whereby service vehicles for Unit 1 would have to leave by the site egress onto The Silk Road. Furthermore there still appears to be no realistic assessment of the impact upon the Silk Road/Hulley Road roundabout to the north. All prospective customers from the south, west and south east parts of Macclesfield would have to approach the site by travelling north along the Silk Road then turning south at the Hulley Road roundabout – hardly a reduction in the need to travel – and likely to increase congestion. Other than the recognition that the issue of service vehicles for Unit 1 is resolved our objections and concerns remain.

 

 

Accessibility

 

 

The planned pedestrian/cycle bridge over the River Bollin has been discarded. This eliminates easy pedestrian/cycle access from the Tytherington/Upton Priory areas. There now only appears to be one pedestrian/cycle access - from Black Lane at the south eastern end of the site. There is no pedestrian access from any other direction. As a consequence, the site now offers poor pedestrian linkages - not excellent ones as claimed. Given the poor pedestrian access to the site now proposed the site’s location will not encourage linked pedestrian trips – but will discourage them.

 

National Guidance recommends a maximum 400 metres to the nearest bus stop. To claim that 430 metres from the nearest bus stop to the edge of the site is good accessibility by bus is plainly wrong.

 

Few visitors to the site would consider there to be highly accessible rail access. There are 3 services per hour to Manchester and Stoke-On-Trent and 1 service per hour to Bournemouth.

The above comments demonstrate that the site is highly inaccessible by non car modes. It will do nothing to promote a choice of travel modes.

 

 

Acoustic Report

 

 

It is noted that the principal tool relied upon is BS:4142:2014. This is not intended to be an applicable noise prediction or impact measurement – it merely seeks to indicate whether there would be a likelihood of complaint arising from industrial noise in mixed residential and industrial areas. Given the relationship of the site to Withyfold drive to the north west it appears that complaints would be highly likely given the position of the service road for delivery vehicles, the location and height of plant and ventilation units along the rear of the retail buildings and the position and layout constraints of any service/loading/unloading areas. Noise within such areas could be variable in content and duration and perceived by nearby residents as “disturbing” not only within their dwellings but also private garden areas.

 

Taking these factors into account it appears to the Society that the acoustic assessment is somewhat superficial. It is noted that the data relied upon was gathered in 2015 and does not reflect the current (in effect) “free-field” situation. Road traffic is identified as the principal noise source and an attempt is made to model the impact of traffic noise generated within the site, concluding that there would be a low likelihood of disturbance for the occupiers of nearby dwellings. This conclusion does not appear to take into account other noise sources arising from the development and the assumptions about the duration of noise events within the development are at best over optimistic and probably questionable. The revised plans indicate that extraction plant for the proposed units will be subject to later agreement with the Local Planning Authority. Accordingly we must conclude that the noise assessment submitted is incomplete and there is a prospect of harm the amenities of persons living in Withyfold Drive.

 

 

 

To conclude – in view of the foregoing the Society cannot support the proposals and the concerns raised point to the need to go back to the drawing board if a successful scheme is to be put forward.

 

 

Accordingly the Society objects to application 18/2662M and also to the amended plans currently before the Council and recommends that the details disapproved for the following reasons :

 

  • Inadequate provision within the scheme for landscaping with the layout plans at variance with the axonometric;

  • Insufficient regard for the amenities of nearby residents from the layout of service provision and dominance of the extensive parking areas in public views of and from the site;

  • Insufficient information of the treatment of the retaining walls within the the site, both at the rear and adjacent to the River Bollin;

  • Uncertainty regarding the relationship of the scheme to proposals for alterations to the Hibel Road/Silk Road junction given the limitations on programming imposed at the outline application stage.

  • Inadequate provision for access by non-car modes through the omission of the intended footbridge access across the River Bollin – this would not be possible with the layout as currently proposed – we must conclude that access is not sustainable for non-car users.

  • Incomplete and inadequate acoustic assessment resulting in potential harm to the amenities of nearby residents. 

 

 

With best wishes I remain 

 

 

Yours faithfully 

 

 

 

Keith Smith 

 

 

Keith Smith, Chairman

 

Macclesfield Civic Society

 

30 November 2018.

 

 

 

keith76079smith@yahoo.com