Westminster Park Residents Association

Bringing our community alive

November 2, 2017
by Dave Craggs
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PUBLIC MEETING REGARDING THE WREXHAM ROAD DEVELOPMENT

 WESTMINSTER PARK RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

 

PUBLIC MEETING REGARDING THE WREXHAM ROAD DEVELOPMENT

HELD AT WP COMMUNITY CENTRE 8PM WEDNESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2017

 

Present:            90 persons as listed separately.

 

Pauline Brown opened the meeting and introduced Peter Cocker (ex Highways), Brian Westcott, Jennifer Crew from the WPRA WRD sub committee and Neil Sullivan, our local Councillor.

 

Brian Westcott chaired the meeting, almost exactly a year since the last public meeting(s).  The purpose of this meeting is to bring everyone up to date, which was advertised in the newsletter (sent to every house), website and noticeboards so everyone on WP should be informed.

 

The Council has produced a strategy which gave a figure of 5000 houses needed in the Chester area by 2030.  The land by Wrexham Road was redesignated from Green Belt so it can be built on.  The plan said that 830 houses could be built, the developers have put in an application for 1300, but have since moved the ‘mitigation area’ outside of this land and now plan to build 1450 houses.

The land is owned jointly by house builders Redrow and Taylor Wimpey. At the

present time an application has been received from Redrow for full permission to

build 509 houses plus an application for outline permission for a local centre to

include a primary school, health centre, shops, etc. An application from T-W is

expected but has not yet been received. Documents are available to view on the

Council website or in the Lache Library.

WPRA and our local councillors have studied the documents and discussed the

issues with the builders, council officers, Welsh Water and other parties. We accept

that planning permission for the development is likely to be approved eventually but

wish to influence the development in order to minimise adverse effects on the

quality of life of WP residents.

 

Changes from the original application that we have brought about so far are that there will be no vehicle access into Lache Lane.   Also the proposal that the Primary School would be built when the 800th house had been built has been brought forward to earlier in the scheme.

 

Objections/comments can be submitted to the Council.   WPRA are producing a submission on behalf of residents and a summary of this was circulated (also available on the wp-ra website).  This meeting is to let residents have their say to be included in the submission.

 

Six items have been identified to be commented on :

  • Transport
  • Numbers and types of dwelling
  • Drainage
  • Education
  • Health
  • Ecological mitigation 

/Contd.

 

-2-

 

  1. Transport: Peter Cocker commented on the plans.  Vectos are the Transport Consultant for the Developers who took the view that as traffic gets worse people will change their habits.  They have also assumed that three quarters of traffic will not be heading towards Chester.  This means that Highways England have to become involved as the A55 is a main Highway.  The Business Park and Kings School have also produced reports and employed consultants.  The Council are now employing new consultants.   The Vectos report is very detailed and lengthy with a lot of data, not all of it relevant.

How will this impact us – new lanes on the A55 at junctions, the three junctions onto the Development from Wrexham Road, the Overleigh Roundabout – where we do not want a ‘Hamburger roundabout’ as at Sainsbury’s.  There are some reasonable proposals for the roundabout, widening lanes etc.   However at the rush hour and particularly morning peak hours the traffic will still be held back by the Grosvenor Bridge.  We have no objections to the plans for the Overleigh Roundabout but point out that it will not help at peak hours.

What the Council should be doing is pushing for the Western Relief Road which has been talked about for many years.  The Business Park and the Park and Ride have been built in that time.   There is/was a protected line from Bumpers Lane but so much has changed since then and this protected line is no longer feasible.

In Part 2 of the Local Plan the Western Relief Road (WRR) is part of the medium to long term strategy and should be brought forward with funding from the Developers to help.  This may involve discussions with the Welsh Authorities as there is no doubt the development will go ahead.  The housing is planned up to 2030 but already time is passing.  There could be 12-14 years of construction.

Arriva buses have been in discussions to route the No 1 bus through the development but want to keep the link with the business park.  This means that there will be a stop on the WP side of Wrexham Road (though will be close to Kings School).

There is no magic solution and the developers and the Council do not offer one.  This is the item that most residents are most concerned about.

Ian Gilfoyle (ex Chester Planning) spoke and said that WPRA should object on the grounds of Traffic, being the main objection that could bring about refusal.

Someone asked if there had been any involvement with the MP for Wrexham as it will impact them.

Someone who lives on the West side of Wrexham Road and is a keen cyclist finds there are many times he cannot drive in.  However crossing Grosvenor Bridge on bicycles is very dangerous.

Brian commented that the Developers have suggested a cycling route via Handbridge which is a diversion.

Angela Reeves thanked the sub committee for their work and asked what is the structural capacity of the bridge.  There must be a formula for this calculation and how it will stand up to greater capacity.  This could possibly be used to increase leverage for the new WRR.

Neil Sulllivan said the Council employs a Bridge Engineer and he will contact him to see how Grosvenor Bridge is coping.

Colin Dollimore commented that the numbers of Council employees working in

Chester must be diminishing as they are moving to Ellesmere Port.

 

/Contd.

-3-

 

Neil Sullivan said that Peter’s comments on the WRR are up to date.  Plans have changed and there has been contact with the Welsh Assembly for a plan further into Wales and the long term safe guarded route has now been abandoned.

Part 1 of the Local Plan was for big strategic issues.

Part 2 of the Local Plan is now available to view on the Council website and includes  more detail about transport, WRR.   There is a high level of partnership working between Chester and the Welsh Assembly which could lead to a route which will help.  Policy T1 retains a commitment to produce a relief road.

A resident from Lache Lane said that the noise from the road surface is loud, also the bus up Lache Lane once an hour is not enough and the lights at the roundabout let too few cars through.

One comment said that access from the new estate onto Lache Lane could help those heading for Air Bus etc, but this was a minority view.

Someone asked if the trees in the roundabout would remain, we believe that the big trees will remain though some bushes may go if lanes are widened.

How was the 1200/1400 figure set?

Neil Sullivan reiterated that more housing was in the Local Plan and the Council redesignated the land and need to produce the number of houses in their plan.  The Phase 1 (Redrow) application is for 509 house.

If the housing needs are being met why are all these houses being built?

The Local Plan which has been passed is now a fact which takes us to 2030.  Even if there is a delay there will have to be another local plan and it could be that more houses will be needed in Chester.  Using delaying tactics could delay this being passed.  Putting conditions on the Developer is a way forward.

The worst thing that could happen is for the development to be refused as it would go to appeal and then go through.  It will go ahead as fast as the Developer can sell houses, possibly 100 a year?

If we get the conditions imposed we need to ensure the builders are kept to them.

 

  1. Numbers and types of dwelling: There has previously been a local demand for one-bedroom houses and bungalows.  Most houses in the plan are 3-4 bedroom houses.  The Grosvenor Estate say the affordable housing will be built at the end.

From 830 to 1400 houses, we will object on that basis.

Someone suggested that the Council should impose what houses are built when.

Neil Sullivan replied that Developers will plead poverty and try to persuade that the number of affordable houses are cut.

We need to make sure the mix is right.

Owen ? said that affordable housing is cheaper, maybe 60/80% of market value, but Milne Homes on Sherbourne Avenue appear only to be building big houses.

It has been checked that Milne Homes are building nine affordable homes.

Angela Reeves asked if there were any leasehold properties.  The builders have said no.

There is a demand for bungalows, older people have been encouraged to downsize but no bungalows are being built.

Mixed developments make for better communities.  Housing has to suit the needs of people at different stages in life and not become ghetto-ised.

 

  1. Drainage: Surface water – the Developers are building attenuating tanks to prevent flooding.

/Contd.

-4-

 

  1. Foul water/sewage – we have met with Welsh Water who say there is a need to upgrade the system and they will conduct a review of the whole area and this has been done. There are nine possible solutions and whichever is chosen needs to be implemented before construction starts.  Welsh Water consider these solutions are

There is a very high water table which is well known.  Thirty years ago promises were made which were not kept to.

Peter Cocker said that we need to see the proposals for surface and foul drainage.  We have been told of the attenuation tanks and oversized pipes but for foul water/sewage we have no details of any of the nine schemes and need to see the plans.   Welsh Water and the Council must be sure it will work.

The consultants walked through the site in summer 2015 which was very dry and commented that there were ‘no records of flooding in the area’ which was surprising.

 

  1. Education: The Developers provide the infrastructure for the school and the plan was that the school would be ready when the 800th house was built.  There has been a meeting with Christleton Education Trust who are interested in building and running the school.  They think they might be able to obtain funding from central government.  The school should be built sooner rather than later otherwise it will disrupt existing schools and add to traffic problems.

Tony Austin asked about capacity in existing local schools.  There are no places at Belgrave, some at the Lache school.  Queens Park (secondary school) has capacity at the moment.

 

  1. Health: The Developers have included provision of a health centre.  There is a meeting set up with the Health Authority and it would appear they want to build a big centre to replace all South Chester surgeries which if it is located on the development will add to the transport problems.

 

  1. Environmental Mitigation: Jennifer Crew said that there were two applications, one for the main housing estate, and another for the Ecological Mitigation area.  At present there are: six ponds on site which contain newts, toads, frogs and othr wildlife as well as trees with barn owls and bats.  All of these will have to move.  Ponds will be filled in and newts, toads etc moved to the Mitigation Area which was originally part to be part of the development site.  Now it would appear to be in a separate piece of land south of the site, straddling Lache Lane, thus allowing the developers to build another 100 houses on the main site.  This will also mean loss of foraging habitat for animals including the barn owls, as the area of mitigation is one sixth of the size of the current site.  Is this viable?  The right location?

 

Part of the Ecological Mitigation area is in the path of the proposed WRR.  The application number for this area is 17/02444/FUL.  Attendees were urged go make separate objections to this application.

 

Brian Westcott thanked everyone for attending and was very grateful for all the comments made which will help us build up our response.  He also urged as many as possible to send in individual submissions as the more comments there are make our voice better heard.

 

 

 

October 31, 2017
by Jennifer Crew
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Chester’s Western Relief Road

Our Councillors Neil Sullivan and Razia Daniels are working hard to address the inevitable traffic problems that will occur when the Wrexham Road development goes ahead.  They have made representations to Cheshire West and Chester Council and have sent the following letter to the press:

Chester Western Relief Road

For decades there has been an outline plan to build a relief road to the west of Chester, crossing the Dee at Sealand Industrial Estate ,and wholly within the County boundary.

Unfortunately this scheme has never materialised despite key tracts of land being safeguarded in successive local plans.

In the latest Local Plan , the Council are planning to remove  the  safeguarded route due to doubts about whether it is deliverable.

We are working with residents in Westminster Park, Lache and Curzon Park to deal with the planned Wrexham road large scale housing development.

One key concern is that there will be increased congestion on Wrexham road and Overleigh roundabout. This will lead to delays, deteriorating air quality  and frustration.

We also think it will lead to increased traffic on Lache roads such as Circular Drive, Boundary Lane and Cliveden Road.

The Council is now considering working with the Welsh Assembly Government and Flintshire Council on a possible new route that will bypass Chester on the western side, to be built part in England and part in Wales.

This could  alleviate some of the traffic impacts as above but also open up economic growth potential for Blacon and Deeside.

We urge the Council to get on with this project and establish whether there is a viable route without any further delay.

Cllr Neil Sullivan

Cllr Razia Daniels

Handbridge Park ward, Chester

October 13, 2017
by Dave Craggs
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Public Meeting about the Wrexham Road Development Planning Application

We shall be holding a Public Meeting of the Westminster Park Residents’ Association at the Westminster Park Community Centre at 8pm on Wednesday 18th October and urge you all to attend.

Plans for the 1400 house estate were submitted in June and we have now prepared the attached draft response to Cheshire West and Chester Council on behalf of Westminster Park residents which we wish to discuss with you.  You may wish to raise other points about the plans and in order to represent your views as accurately as possible, we would be grateful if you would come along to the meeting.

The plans are available to view at Lache Library or online.  The application numbers are: 17/02453/OUT and 17/02444/FUL.  Please go along to examine the plans and consider any points that you would wish raise.

We attach our draft response which will form the basis of our discussion at the meeting.

If you are not able to attend, you can forward your views to Brian Westcott at 48 Merton Drive.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 18th October.

Yours

Pauline Brown, Chair

Westminster Park Residents’ Association

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October 9, 2017
by Jennifer Crew
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Chester Residents urged to look at Wrexham Road plans and make comment

Press release

For immediate release: Tuesday 10 October 2017

Westminster Park Residents’ Association are urging the people of Chester to look at the plans for the proposed new housing development on Wrexham Road and send their comments to Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The plans were lodged with the Council in June and can be viewed online or in hard copy at the Lache library.  A number of responses have already been received, particularly in relation to the effect that this development will have on traffic in Chester and the surrounding area.

Pauline Brown, chair of Westminster Park Residents’ Association, commented, “A lot of people have still not woken up to the fact that this development will go ahead and it will have a huge impact on the traffic both south and north of the River Dee.

“This new estate will be almost twice the size of Westminster Park and the number of vehicle journeys that it is going to generate will be enormous.  Quite apart from people commuting to work, in the early stages of development, while there is no school, shops or health centre on the estate, people will need to reach all of these facilities via the Wrexham Road on a daily basis.”

Westminster Park Residents’ Association is encouraging everyone to go and look at the plans and consider their own response.  “We are all going to be affected by this development and now is the time to make CWaC aware of our views,” Mrs Brown added.

“As a community organisation, we are asking all Westminster Park residents to have a look at the plans over the next week and to come along to the Public Meeting that we are holding at Westminster Park Community Centre at 8pm on Wednesday 18th October 2017.  We are keen to put forward a response to the Council that is representative of our residents’ views and hope that they come along in force.

“Although traffic impact is a big issue, there are also other aspects of these plans that people need to look at including how the development will affect the provision of education and healthcare in the area, how the drainage and ecology of the area will be managed and how the archaeological assets of the site will be conserved.”

Residents are also encouraged to put forward their own individual comments on the plans. The plans can be found on the Cheshire West and Chester website.  There are two applications at present:

17/02453/OUT | Part A – (full permission) for 509 dwellings and associated infrastructure (including playing fields / open space); Part B – (outline permission – all matters reserved apart from access) for a local centre (comprising supermarket (Use Class A1); other shops (Use Class A1); cafe/restaurant (Use Class A3); public house (Use Class A4); health centre (Use Class D1); and nursery/creche (Use Class D1) plus an outdoor play area) and an element of a primary school with associated playing fields (Hybrid application) | Land At Wrexham Road Chester

17/02444/FUL | Construction of an ecological mitigation area for the translocation of great crested newts | Land Off Lache Lane Chester

Caption: Chester residents examining the Wrexham Road Development Plans in Lache Library.

October 9, 2017
by Jennifer Crew
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Westminster Park residents fight on to save their green space

Press Release

For immediate release: Monday 9 October 2017

Residents of Westminster Park have been dismayed once more by new notices attached to lamp-posts informing them that Dee Valley Water have applied to the Department of Transport to change the use of the green space on Fir Tree Avenue enabling them to build a new water pumping station.

This latest move comes ahead of the Cheshire West and Chester Council planning committee meeting next Tuesday 10th October to consider the planning application for the pumping station.

Local resident Steve Barnwell said, “Green spaces on the Westminster Park estate were designed as public amenities not to be built on in the future.  Land registry documents for 1969 show that this land was ‘dedicated to the public for ever’, and yet Dee Valley Water want to ride roughshod over these orders.”

Dee Valley Water have applied to the Department of Transport for a highways stopping-up order which will in effect change the ownership and purpose of this open green space.  Currently it is owned by Kier Group and is designated as highway with public access.

Steve Barnwell is also very disappointed by the response of Cheshire West and Chester Council to the planning application submitted by Dee Valley Water.  “This green space is designated in CWAC’s Local Plan as an important part of the ‘Green Network’ in Chester (CDLP – ENV 19). The urban corridor along the A483 Wrexham Road into Chester should have a green buffer along its length.

He is also concerned that this will set a precedent for future building, “Quite apart from the noise and vibration that we are going to suffer, and the loss of an important local amenity, if the construction of this pumping station is allowed to go ahead, what is to stop another developer or utility company from building in the green buffer zone?”

Anyone wishing to object to the stopping-up order have until Thursday 12th October 2017.  They can email the Department of Transport at nationalcasework@dft.gsi.gov.uk quoting case number: NATTRAN/NW/S247/2995 – Fir Tree Avenue Chester.

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August 5, 2017
by Jennifer Crew
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Fir Tree Avenue Residents furious with “high-handed” Dee Valley Water

Residents of Westminster Park are furious at Dee Valley Water’s decision to move ahead with the construction of a pumping station, despite the fact that plans have not yet been brought before the Council’s planning committee.

Only late on Wednesday 2 August this week, did householders on Fir Tree Avenue receive notification that preparatory work will start on Monday 7 August to construct the pumping station on a grassed area with mature trees situated between Fir Tree Avenue and the Wrexham Road.

Plans for this work, however, have only just been submitted to the council and have yet to be considered by the Planning Committee.  Further to objections by residents, local Westminster Park councillors Neil Sullivan and Razia Daniels have called the plans in for closer scrutiny.

Fir Tree residents, Stephen and Carolyn Barnwell are incensed by the arrogant attitude of Dee Valley Water.  “This last minute notification is typical of the high-handed way in which this project has been conducted,” fumed Stephen.  “Back in April, without any consultation, and without any intention of applying for planning permission, Dee Valley posted a notice on a nearby fence informing us of their intention to build a pumping station the size of a double garage opposite our house.  Further to our objections, they have submitted plans to Cheshire West and Chester Council.

“However now, with breathless arrogance, they have decided that they do not need to wait for planning approval and will proceed anyway,” he added.

From the first, residents have questioned why there is a need for the pumping station, and why it needs to be situated in Fir Tree Avenue.  Dee Valley Water claims that it is necessary to meet OfWat’s requirements for resilience in the water supply, but residents are sure that it has more to do with ensuring that there is a good supply to the proposed housing development further down Wrexham Road.

The residents have instigated meetings with Dee Valley Water, which were also attended by MP Chris Matheson and local councillor Neil Sullivan, to request consideration of other possible sites. Chris Matheson has sent a letter to the Council objecting to the plans.

Brian Westcott of the Westminster Park Residents’ Association believes that this pumping station should not be located on Fir Tree Avenue.  He says that it should be part of the new development on Wrexham Road.

“Dee Valley Water will need to produce a wider strategy for water supply to the area taking account of the Wrexham Road development,” he explained, “and this pumping station should be incorporated into those plans.”

“We are very concerned about the effects of this pumping station so close to local houses, and the damage that is going to be caused to the trees screening the houses from the Wrexham Road,” he continued.  “This area is part of the buffer zone between the Westminster Park estate and the Wrexham Road and we are sure that there are alternative sites in the new development that could accommodate this pumping station and be less damaging to the environment.”

 

Caption: Carolyn Barnwell and Brian Westcott on the site of the proposed pumping station on Fir Tree Avenue.

 

June 28, 2017
by Jennifer Crew
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Plans for Wrexham Road Development submitted

The first of four planning applications to build 1400 houses on the Wrexham Road site have been submitted to CWAC.  Another three more applications are expected in the coming weeks.

This first application contains two parts: Part A which requests full planning permission to build 509 dwellings to the south of the site, and Part B which concerns outline planning permission for the associated infrastructure including shops, a health centre, pub, and nursery.  These plans contain a vast amount of information, in 47 separate documents, which will take a long time to download and read.

The other applications are likely to be a similar size.

It is important that these applications are carefully scrutinised to ensure that the new development is built to the highest possible standards and that it does not have a negative impact on surrounding areas.

You can find details of the applications on the CWAC website at: https://pa.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/online-applications/

Search for reference: 17/02453/OUT.

We already have a subcommittee which will be examining the plans, but in light of the amount of content to be studied would welcome some assistance.  If you have any knowledge and/or expertise in planning matters, construction, drainage, traffic management, environment, education and healthcare provision or any other aspect of land development, we would like to hear from you.  Please ring Jennifer Crew on 01244 680364 or Brian Westcott on 01244 675431.

Jennifer Crew

Brian Westcott