Letter to the planners

RE: Barrowmore Development

Following overwhelming support at a public consultation in respect of Barrowmore’s Planning Application on the 29th June, 2021, for a new small development, Barrow Parish Council wishes to express the following views:

Barrow Parish Council unanimously supports the planning application by Barrowmore Estate.

We would request the following conditions be imposed:

  1. No more than 20 buildings to be built on the site
  2. Securing public access to the existing Barrowmore footpath , (This is currently only permissive status) and the new footpath to Hawkins View pavement
  3. Appropriate weather-proof surface to ensure access to wheel-chair users and families with push chairs etc.

The reasons for this are as follows:

  1.  BARROW PARISH PLAN. Our Parish Plan was adopted in 2008. Within it, our Housing Policy no. 2 states: “the response to consultation suggests that more than 80% of respondents recognise and accept the arguments for a modest level of housing growth. There was acceptance of the case for affordable homesfor the elderly and the young people of the community, but any development should also cater for the needs of growing families. A very significant outcome of consultation was that more than two thirds of respondents want to see a mix of housing types in the future: current planning policies are failing local families who have need for larger homes and can see no prospect of being able to stay in the community”.
  2. NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT PLAN. Our draft Neighbourhood Development Plan was sent to Cheshire West and Chester Council for comments in 2015, as part of the consultation process. A change of Parish Council at this time meant that no one made the suggested changes or completed this document. The current parish Council intend to rectify this as soon as possible.

Whilst we understand that you will not give any weight to our draft Neighbourhood Plan, we would like to state that public consultation at the time (2015) reflected the same views that had been expressed in the Parish Plan – that is, that a modest mixed housing development would be welcomed by the community. The Vision Statement in our draft Neighbourhood Plan states “The vision of our NDP is to shape our future development by retaining, sustaining and enhancing essential characteristics of the agricultural and historical community within this ancient setting, including pockets of housing development that would support the existing infrastructure and add to the overall sustainability of the Parish, fitting in with and being compatible with the local landscape”. This reflects the vision statement in our Parish Plan.

  • SUSTAINABILITY. Since our Neighbourhood Plan was drafted in 2015, the village has lost its shop and its pre-school. Our school is suffering from declining numbers, as is the pub in the centre of the village and our Church. We are concerned for the future of all these amenities. Our village is hoping to start a community shop in the near future, and this would be within very easy walking distance of the proposed new development. The need to address the sustainability of our village was recognised in our parish plan in 2008, and is becoming more urgent with the passing of the years and the continuing loss of facilities here. We are a vibrant and active community. People who live here want to stay. They enjoy the many clubs and activities, and all the other advantages of living in our rural community. However, there is a shortage of larger family homes, and that means that valuable members of the community take the decision to leave. Those families are moving to Kelsall or Tarvin, where huge estates have been built, and schools are over-subscribed. If we had the right sort of small development here in Barrow, those families would stay in our community, and our amenities would be protected.
  • THE LOCAL PLAN PART 1. We understand that the purpose of the Local Plan is to protect our beautiful and historic rural village and Barrow PC supports this in general. Under the Local Plan’s STRATEGY FOR RURAL AREAS, the local plan states “there are many smaller settlements, many of them washed over by the green belt, which have a lower level of services and access to public transport but could acceptably accommodate some small-scale development…the plan doesn’t impose numbers on them as the local community is best placed to understand the needs of its communities…”

We understand that those needs are intended to be expressed within the Neighbourhood Plan. It is our misfortune that the previous parish council did not consider or adopt our draft plan whilst in office, which clearly expresses those needs. Nevertheless, as stated above, questionnaires completed during its preparation, as well as our Parish plan, all support a small-scale mixed development of homes for the elderly and young, and particularly family homes with four or five bedrooms.

  • LOCAL PLAN PART 2: We understand that Barrow is in the green belt and is subject to additional restrictions under Strategic Policy 9. However, these restrictions are designed to protect the green belt. We believe that planning should be allowed because the proposed development site is a brownfield site. The former use of the brownfield was mainly industrial, with a mix of industrial and farm buildings. Some of the buildings are completely derelict, and are an eye-sore within the rural community. They are not fit for industrial or farming use. The Local Plan Part 2 goes on to say there are no numbers for housing in areas like Barrow as they will be so low: “it is recognised they have a limited level of sustainability …development may take place that is limited in scale, meets a rural or other housing need …” We believe that Barrow has a need for a small mixed housing estate of up to 20 houses which would support the needs of the elderly, young couples, and particularly for families making the next move.
  • Questionnaires completed in 2015 for our draft NDP, also expressed the view that the centre of the village could be spoilt by building there. The Barrow community would prefer to see pockets of development just outside the centre of the village. The proposed Barrowmore development on a brownfield site meets this need. It is a walk of 5-10 minutes (depending on your rate) to go from the proposed new site to the village on the existing Barrowmore footpath. The additional footpath will take walkers on to the main road towards the school and church, in another few minutes, and will be used by many locals as well as new residents at Barrowmore.
  • Barrow is formed of a number of small satellite communities at Little Barrow; Stamford Bridge, Hollowmoor Heath and Long Green. Residents from all these areas regularly walk to the village centre to meet up and use our amenities. Barrowmore is nearer to the village centre than any of these communities and is an integral part of the village, as we all use their permissive footpaths around the estate. As well as having a busy industrial estate employing around 169 people, many of them local, it has a thriving and popular café – the Bluebell café, near the main Barrowmore building, which is used by many locals as well as visitors from beyond Barrow. Again, the café is within easy walking distance of most parts of the extended village.
  • On the 29th June, 2021, Barrow PC held a public consultation with the village, in the presence of the architect of the proposed development, and a representative from Barrowmore. The public had an opportunity to look at the proposed plans and footpath, and to speak to Ms Aspinall, the architect and to Mr. Haycock from Barrowmore. This was followed by a public meeting with the opportunity to ask questions, which lasted for just under an hour. This was an extremely positive meeting, with the overwhelming majority of the views expressed reflecting strong support for the new development. The only concerns raised during the meeting were that a future developer may try and build more than the 20 houses on the plan; and a desire to safeguard the Barrowmore permissive footpath in the future.
  • CONDITIONS

Barrow PC have some concerns that a future developer may try and change any permissions, to impose additional houses on this proposed development site. That is why Barrow PC suggest a condition limiting the development to 20 houses.

In addition, Barrow PC recognise that there have been concerns about the footpath on Barrowmore’s main site, which under Barrowmore’s plans will remain a permissive path. Barrow PC believe that the footpath access to and from the development must be secured by an appropriate legal framework and that the obligation for maintenance of the new footpath should remain with Barrowmore as they will enjoy significant financial benefit from the development and the land remains in their ownership.

  1. CONCLUSION

While there will always be some residents opposed to any significant building, Barrow PC is confident that the new plans reflect the wishes of the majority of residents in our community and will meet the needs expressed in our Parish Plan back in 2008, which are becoming more urgent.

We would urge you to consider this application favourably to enable our community to continue to maintain the local amenities which benefit us all, and to enable families here to continue to enjoy living in our lovely village.

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