Stockport’s planning chiefs met this week to consider the latest crop of development proposals including applications for a Jewish ‘eruv’ – a symbolic religious boundary – and two housing estates totalling 140 new homes.
Below is a full rundown of the decisions taken by the cross-party panel chaired by Councillor Andy Sorton.
An ‘eruv’ covering 35 points across Cheadle and Gatley
An eruv is a boundary recognised in Jewish law that allows activities to be carried out on the Sabbath – sunset on Friday till nightfall on Saturday – that would otherwise be restricted.
This includes carrying keys or medicine, or pushing wheelchairs or prams.
While a ‘natural eruv’ exists in Cheadle and Gatley, made up of existing walls and fences, there are gaps across some roads and footpaths that require symbolic bridging to complete it.
A planning application from the Cheadle and Gatley Eruv Committee requested permission to erect pairs of six metre high poles strung with transparent nylon wire at 35 points around Cheadle and Gatley, as well as some archways.
Coun Wendy Meikle she had not been aware of eruvs before coming to consider the application, but was concerned it would be divisive, increase anti-semitism and offend other religious groups.
She told the committee: “I just see them as like a demarcation of a territory, and I’m really uncomfortable about it. I admit I don’t know enough about it and before I read the report I had never heard of them before, but those are my concerns.”
However Coun Suzanne Wyatt took a different view.
Although ‘riled’ by the ‘exponential’ growth of street furniture in general, she fully supported the eruv.
“This isn’t really just about street furniture, it’s about supporting a community,” she said.
“This particular community, because of its religious strictures actually disadvantages some of its members. This is an attempt to give back to those members some of the advantages that the rest of us have, so they can walk around and carry things and push things on their Sabbath.
“I don’t see there’s any problem with supporting this application and I will be doing exactly that.”
The committee voted for the application by nine votes to two, with one abstention.
106 new homes at site of former Cranford Golf Centre, Heaton Mersey
Planners gave the green light for the existing golf centre buildings to be demolished and replaced with a 106-home estate with two play areas.
The new development, off Harwood Road will include 79 houses and 27 apartments with between one and four bedrooms.
All but five of these will be available under ‘affordable’ tenures, including affordable rent, social rent and shared ownership. The remaining homes will be for ‘outright sale’.
Coun Wendy Meikle said she was delighted at the number of affordable homes included in the plans.
She added: “I’m just hoping they look as good as they do on the diagrams when they are finished. It looks to have a nice finish to it, I’m very pleased to support this.”
And Coun John Taylor made the point that the estate was well placed for people to access public transport, particularly trains, Metrolink ‘and a very good bus service’.
The committee passed the plans unanimously.
34 homes on the site of the former Focus School, Heaton Mersey
Planners have given the green light for the former independent school on Didsbury Road to be demolished and redeveloped as a 34-home estate.
Described as an ‘extremely desirable residential development’ in the application, it will feature a mix of ‘distinctive’ two-bedroom terraces and three and four-bed semis.
Thirteen of the homes will be ‘affordable’.
The Plans also include an area of public open space in the south west corner of the site, improvements to woodland and the provision of a natural play area.
Coun John Taylor praised the developer for adapting the plans after listening to local concerns.
He said: “This demonstrates the commitment of the developer here – and the agent – to working with the community and shows how much impact that has in terms of smoothing the way to a good outcome.”
He added: “The social housing is particularly welcome in the Heatons because we have a big problem with second generation families having to move away because they can’t afford the typical house prices.
“I’m delighted with this. It should be written up as a text book example of how to go about getting a planning permission.”
Turf Lea Farm, Marple – extension to side and rear of house
The extension to this property on Turf Lea Road was approved by the committee.
The officer’s report found there were ‘very special circumstances’ for allowing this development in the green belt.
It explained that the proposed extension – although 236 pc bigger than the original house – would be smaller than the one it was replacing.
Plans include a side extension containing a gym, wet room and store and a swimming pool to the rear.
The committee passed the application in line with the recommendation, but noted the policy of allowing extensions of up to a third in size was being routinely overridden.
Coun Christine Corris said the rule was being broken ‘right across the borough’ and was making a ‘nonsense’ of the policy.
Coun Philip Harding added: “When I saw this was a 236pc increase I thought ‘what size of increase would it have to be to not fall into special circumstances. Perhaps planning officers could think about that or explain to us what size of extension in the green belt we could go to.”
Wrenbury, Buxton Road, Hazel Grove – two story side extension, single storey rear extension and front porch.
This was another application for an extension to a property in the green belt – this time with a 69.8pc increase on the original house.
The officers report to the committee said the development would be of ‘only limited harm to the openness of the green belt’. It also noted that and the applicant could potentially ‘fall back’ on permitted development rights if rejected.
The committee unanimously approved the application.