Fury as wa­ter­sports cen­tre plan re­fused

Macclesfield Express - - YOUR VIEWS - STU­ART GREER

THE man be­hind plans for a £1.6m wa­ter­sports cen­tre at a former Chelford quarry has launched a scathing at­tack on coun­cil­lors who re­fused per­mis­sion for the scheme.

Tim Wood­head from Cheshire Lakes is fu­ri­ous af­ter coun­cil­lors on Cheshire East Coun­cil’s strate­gic plan­ning com­mit­tee threw out the scheme, de­spite their own of­fi­cers rec­om­mend­ing it for ap­proval.

It was the fourth time the plans had been de­bated by the com­mit­tee af­ter a se­ries of blun­ders.

Mr Wood­head said he was ‘ut­terly ap­palled’ by the coun­cil’s han­dling of the scheme and vowed to ‘fo­cus ev­ery­thing’ on over­turn­ing the de­ci­sion at ap­peal.

He said: “Thank­fully the ap­peal will be heard by an in­de­pen­dent in­spec­tor and not the vol­un­tary and out of touch mem­bers of the Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee. They are com­pletely out of touch with the gen­eral pub­lic they rep­re­sent.”

He added: “We are ut­terly ap­palled at the way this ap­pli­ca­tion has been han­dled and de­cided upon.

“They ig­nored the ev­i­dence in front of them, ig­nored their of­fi­cers’ ad­vice and ig­nored the views of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties they rep­re­sent.”

The scheme in­volved trans­form­ing the old Mere Farm Quarry in Chelford into a cen­tre for wake­board­ing, pad­dle sports and open wa­ter swim­ming, ca­noe­ing and kayak- ing. But from the off­set it faced op­po­si­tion over the po­ten­tial im­pact on the bio­di­ver­sity and birdlife.

The ap­pli­ca­tion went be­fore coun­cil plan­ning three times af­ter coun­cil­lors first re­fused it, then ap­proved it, then re­fused it again, stat­ing it did not take proper ac­count of lo­cal wildlife.

Mr Wood­head did not give up, and sub­mit­ted a re­vised ap­pli­ca­tion with im­prove­ments for the bird pop­u­la­tion in­clud­ing king­fisher nests, swift tow­ers, sand martin banks and three new is­lands for wad­ing birds.

The scheme had sup­port from ward coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Wal­ton who de­scribed it as a ‘unique’ and ‘ex­cit­ing’ op­por­tu­nity for the younger gen­er­a­tion.

This view was shared by Re­becca Wain­wright, from Mar­ket­ing Cheshire, who said there would be eco­nomic ben­e­fits in terms of jobs and tourism.

But Chelford Par­ish Coun­cil warned it would cause ‘con­sid­er­able de­struc­tion’ to the bio­di­ver­sity and was backed by more than half of the com­mit­tee.

The former Mere Farm Quarry in Chelford and Cheshire Lakes’ plans to trans­form it into a £1.6m wa­ter­sports cen­tre

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