Goostrey still incorrectly classified as Local Service Centre
Consultation ended 16th December 2013
The current situation
The current draft Core Strategy has been substantially re-written following the previous consultation process early this year and has many good and improved points within it which should be commended. It is important that we have a Local Plan in place that is defensible to restrict unwanted and unsustainable development within Cheshire East.
However, despite nearly 600 objections from Goostrey and despite the clear reasoned argument that Goostrey was incorrectly and unfairly assessed as a Local Service Centre, Goostrey is still identified as a Local Service Centre in the current Core Strategy. Neither ourselves or Goostrey Parish Council have had any explanation from Cheshire East to explain why Cheshire East don’t agree with our comments and why they are ignoring Goostrey residents concerns. This is clearly not in the spirit of the consultation or ‘localism’.
At the Parish council meeting on Tuesday 12th November 2013, Councillor Les Gilbert explained he had not been told that Goostrey would still be classified as a Local Service Centre in the current consultation. However, he did say that there was no decision whether Goostrey would be a Local Service Centre in the final plan, and that it could still be changed. Holmes Chapel could also be promoted to a Key Service Centre. He stated that being a Local Service Centre does have some benefits, eg could help with funding for a new Youth Centre. The downside being that it would attract more housing development to the village. However he stated that Cheshire East were currently only considering a further 50-75 houses for Goostrey in the lifetime of the current plan.
Although this doesn’t sound a lot of development and would appear reasonable, this is already 50% higher than the 30-50 houses promised by Michael Jones at the Parish Council AGM earlier this year. In any case there are already planning applications for houses within the village which brings us up to nearly 50 houses in total and the Local Plan has not been finalised as yet.
Why is this important? Because as a Local Service Centre there is a real risk that Goostrey would attract far more development in the future and could signal the end of Goostrey as a village. Our aim is to be able to pass our village community and way of life onto future generations to enjoy.
What is our Argument?
Our argument has three main points :-
The Settlement Hierarchy published in 2010 states Goostrey has a population of 3770. Whereas in fact the recently released 2011 census indicates Goostrey only has 2179 residents (less than any other Local Service Centre), so the basis of the assessment is fundamentally incorrect. This paper goes onto state that despite Goostrey only having 2 of the 5 essential services required to be a Local Service Centre, because of its large population of over 3500 residents, it is appropriate to classify it as a Local Service Centre. What has happened is that they are using the population of Swettenham, Twemlow and Cranage to artificially inflate Goostrey’s population assessment. This has not been undertaken for any other village in Cheshire East. Our argument is that Swettenham, Twemlow, Cranage and Goostrey are individual villages which all consider Holmes Chapel as our Local Service Centre and Goostrey is being unfairly assessed.
Styal which has over 5000 residents (and shops and a station) was discounted from being a Local Service Centre because of its proximity to Wilmslow, an existing Local Service Centre. Therefore the same assessment should be applied to Goostrey due to its proximity to Holmes Chapel, an already well developed Local Service Centre (which could be classed as a Key Service Centre). Therefore using the same assessment as for Styal, Goostrey should be discounted as being a Local Service Centre due to its proximity to Holmes Chapel.
3. Poor Services
Goostrey has only 2 of the 5 essential services (in accordance with the Settlement Hierarchy 2010). This is the lowest of any of the proposed Local Service Centres.
Why are Cheshire East doing this?
We don’t know, and can only surmise that it is to justify large scale development of Goostrey in the future which will signal the end of Goostrey as a village.