Fury as watersports centre plan refused
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