RESPONSE IS HEART-WARMING
THOSE of you delighted by council leader Michael Jones’ Green Belt reassurances, as reported in this paper, might care to download from the council website their Green Belt Assessment Update 2015.
This divides all Green Belt in Cheshire East into ‘parcels’ which are ranked according to how well they meet each of five national Green Belt criteria. While all parcels were found to merit their Green Belt status, the report proposes that many should lose the protection which this currently offers. It suggests all land in the least sacrosanct category, and probably substantial swathes of the second, should be developed in the coming years. This document will empower developers and disempower protesting residents groups. Parcels released will typically increase in value while the community bears the consequences.
The proposed King’s School development provides an interesting test. In addition to the decision related to the new site there is also the question of redevelopment of existing sites. For example King’s owns, but does not use, Green Belt land adjacent to its Fence Avenue site. The proposed 250 homes could be built without using this land. However the value of the land is increased if, as the council intends, this parcel is included. Helping to finance King’s new school is not among the compelling reasons currently required to justify intrusion into the Green Belt.
Following our call in last month’s edition of this column for the council to abandon its plans to sell off Macclesfield town centre car parks, and instead offer free parking for shoppers, some new supporting evidence came to light. The Daily Telegraph reported that in Cardigan, West Wales, lack of money for repairs meant that all the parking machines, were out of order. Sales in the town’s hard-pressed shops were boosted by up to 50 per cent. Traders found that shoppers were taking advantage of the free parking to stay longer and that the town was much busier. Conservative High Street Minister Marcus Jones commented that councils should develop their policies to make sure that they are attracting people to come and shop and to frequent the high street. Perhaps Cheshire East’s Mr M Jones will listen to him.
●● Chris O’Neill sent us this picture he took of Macclesfield Canal near Lyme Green. Email your images to macclesfieldexpress @menmedia.co.uk or upload them to our Flickr page www.flickr.com/groups/maccpics. We’ll print the best ones