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Richborough’s development proposals could make life safer for school children

The Crewe Chronicle recently report the plight of local parents after Cheshire East Council announced it plans to sever funding of a free bus service that operates from Ettiley Heath to Wheelock Primary School.

This means that some children may have to walk along a busy main road to get to school as there are no footpaths along Hind Heath Road linking Ettiley Heath and Wheelock.  

Ironically, Cheshire East Council has been fighting a development proposal for 269 houses off Hind Heath Road which included the construction of a cycle and footway along the entire length of the road which would dramatically increase safety for pedestrians.

Richborough Estates which has been leading the planning application since 2010, has recently been granted planning permission from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.  However, Cheshire East Council has instigated a challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to grant permission.  The grounds of the challenge have been considered by Counsel to be extremely weak.  Therefore, Cheshire East Council is potentially wasting large sums public money in pursuit of political gesturing through the High Court.

Whilst the planning application won’t be supported by everyone in the area, it would deliver new family homes, a high level of affordable housing to assist first time buyers, jobs and of course the safety benefits afforded by a new footpath.

Richborough Estates believes Cheshire East Council should reconsider its challenge and remind itself about the direct and indirect benefits that new development brings.

Richborough’s safety provisions were drafted after considering the following:

  1. Wheelock Primary School published a Travel Plan which stated they wanted to encourage children and parents to walk and cycle to school, but that this was being prevented by a direct safe route.
  2. The provision of a bus service might be cancelled in the future which would force children and parents to drive to school or walk down a dangerous road.
  3. There is a nursery half way down Hind Heath Road and it is extremely dangerous for parents and children to walk there – our proposed footpath allows for a crossing to the nursery.
  4. There are many reasons why adults and children should need to walk or cycle along Hind Heath not just for getting to school.  This includes the residents of Wheelock attending the cricket and football club on the Ettiley Heath side of Hind Heath Road. Or it could be to walk or cycle to the train station for example.

The planning application also includes other improvements to Hind Heath Road including traffic calming measures, refuge crossing points and the installation of traffic lights on the of the Hind Heath Road/Crewe Road junction.  This will slow cars down and allow for safer crossing of Hind Heath Road.

A Planning Inspector and Secretary of State believe that Richborough’s development proposal at Hind Heath Road is sustainable and on the above facts it’s hard to see how the Leader of Cheshire East Council has come to a different conclusion.

Related articles

Crewe Chronicle - 12th December 2012  Hind Heath Road development granted on appeal by Secretary of State
Crewe Chronicle - 9th January 2013  Parents’ fury at Cheshire East decision to axe Wheelock school bus
Crewe Chronicle - 16th January 2013 Cheshire East to take Wheelock planning fight to High Court
Crewe Chronicle - 16th January 2013 Cheshire East to award grants to revitalise stalled housing developments!!