Report to Saughall & Shotwick Park Parish Council
Cllr Simon Eardley
Having been re-elected as CWaC councillor for the Saughall and Mollington Ward, Simon Eardley has been back attending parish council meetings this last week. Here’s his usual monthly report presented to Saughall & Shotwick Park Parish Council on 15 May 2023.
Shotwick Farm Estate project
I note with interest the receipt of the report commissioned by the parish council into the proposed covenant on the land in question and the subsequent response from representatives of Mr Greensill. Naturally this material will be the subject of discussion at the parish council meeting on 15 May and I look forward to hearing a range of views. This matter must now be progressed to a conclusion in the near future and I am committed to the achievement of that goal. Following the meeting of the parish council I have diarised an update meeting with the Chief Executive of CWaC (who leaves his position at the end of the week) and his interim replacement for 16 May. I would wish to be in a position at this meeting to update them substantially on the subject and give a broad outline of next steps and a timeframe for them. This could include further consideration of whether the parish council wishes to pursue the possibility of a ‘parish poll.’ If that is not desired, I am inclined to undertake my own comprehensive survey of the parish to ascertain views now that there is considerable material in the public domain around various elements of this ongoing discussion. This will be in addition, of course, to other informal opportunities that residents have had to give their views, the results of which are in the public domain.
Colleagues may be interested by the following note that I issued to a number of residents during April which sets out my position which is already largely well known to many people. My views on the greenbelt and the protection thereof, the protection of the open countryside, existing robust and local and national planning law were extensively stated both before and during the recent election campaign and can be in no doubt. I have resolutely sought to project the greenbelt through representations on planning applications during my time as a borough councillor and that commitment remains 100%. It is important that this subject is considered in a factual way but also which takes into account those who are most directly affected, aside from the wider considerations and interests that the parish has in the matter. It must also take into account the status of the Local Plan and facts that are inherent in that document, such as housing provision across the borough and the meeting of targets by CWaC in that regard. These points have a direct bearing on this subject, not least when speculative comment is made by people about what might or might not be the case in the future.
I look forward to debating this matter with you all in due course.
“In principle, I continue to support the project for the reasons that I believe sit behind it and are stated by those who promote the initiative: the positive environmental benefits that it will bring about. Indeed, this was one of the main reasons why the borough council were prepared to look at the sale along the lines of what has been in negotiation for some time now – the way in which it would support and promote the wider environmental objectives of the borough. There is a strong commitment within the proposals to protecting and enhancing the historic rights of people to use public footpaths across the land in question and I consider that to be important.
There is much comment amongst some people at present with ‘fears’ being raised around the greenbelt and other motives that there might be for the purchase of this land. The land in question is within the greenbelt and is substantially protected by both local and national planning policy in that regard. I see no reason to believe that that status will change in the future and if any plan were advanced for development of the land for housing and similar, I would strongly resist it. I don’t believe anything like that would get off the starting blocks in any case owing to the CWaC Local Plan and the policies that are inherent within it. That said, one of the main 'asks' of the parish council in recent months around this issue has been for some form of covenant to be worked into the overall sale deal and such a document is now on the table. This is likely to offer even further protection regarding the future of the land and should ensure that the land will be used for the purposes that have been outlined.
It is the stated policy of Cheshire West and Chester Council to dispose of its 'farms estate' land and as a result, this land will be sold to someone at some point. Several tenancies associated with the land have reached the end of their life and therefore the sale of the land was/is inevitable. I have long regarded the project that has been put forward as a positive means to secure its future in the long term in a way that makes any prospect of inappropriate development on the greenbelt or plans being put forward to do so incredibly unlikely.
You may find this link of interest too: https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/planning-and-building-control/answers-to-questions-arising-from-the-proposed-sale-of-shotwick-park-cheshire
Church Road sewage – Welsh Water
This remains ‘in progress’. Colleagues will most likely have seen works being undertaken by Welsh Water which are ongoing and the patience of residents is appreciated whilst they have been taking place. I was dissatisfied with the fact that just a cone was placed over the hole left behind following the removal of part of a telegraph pole and which contains ‘sewage water.’ This has now been fenced off in a more satisfactory way. As of 10/05/23, I am aware that Welsh Water investigations are ongoing and have been asked to be kept informed around their progress in bringing this to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible.
Fiddlers Lane pedestrian signage
An outstanding element of the changes to the speed limit on this route was the introduction of additional warning signage of pedestrians likely to be ‘in the road.’ This has been taken up with CWaC Highways in recent weeks and I am pleased to attach details of the plan for this work. See attachments: Overview Plan, Assembly 1, Assembly 2, Assembly 3.
Pear Tree Farm development
- I continue to pursue the outstanding issues that remain at this site. Recent correspondence included the following with the main CWaC Planning officer I deal with here (my text of 12/04 in black and the response in blue from 14/04). Subsequent to this I am liaising with another officer around referring the health and safety issues to the H&S Executive direct. This is work in progress but will be pursued vigorously. I continue to keep residents informed of developments, particularly those who have a direct interest in the site.
Sent: 12 April 2023 13:36
Subject: Pear Tree Farm development - update
I took the opportunity on Monday evening to have a look at the Pear Tree Farm development and took the images below (not attached here). A few observations further to our recent correspondence.
- Top soil has been applied to area at the front. I can’t imagine the multiple items of rubbish / debris were removed beforehand though. Unless this is landscaped properly it will become a weed infested mess as is the case on other parts of the site (to the left in particular – the area closest to Green Lane – is just a mass of dock leaves). I am unable to comment as to whether the rubbish was removed or not, but in order to complete cover it, they would have required a significant amount of topsoil which would have raised the land levels. It will be the landowner i.e. the development company would is responsible for the maintenance of the land.
- The water attenuation area represents a health hazard as far as I’m concerned. This should be fenced in my view but I can’t recall whether that is part of the outstanding works. The proposed landscaping does not include fencing around the attenuation pond. It is not something that planning has control over and safety concerns would be a matter for the landowner i.e. the developer or the HSE.
- The bollard in image three is of concern. I can’t tell whether this is over exposed cabling or something else as the label is confusing. Another H&S concern. Normally these types of cones are placed in areas where there is overhead electric cables and diggers with extendable arms are being used. This is to guide the drivers to ensure that they don’t hit the lines. I suspect that this ones has not been removed once the top soil was laid out.
- A cable runs out of the recently top soiled area. I’m not sure what this is – perhaps it relates to the bollard above. I am unsure what this cable would be. I’m afraid that planning would not have any control over such matters and it would be the responsibility of the land owner or the HSE.
- In the vicinity of the water attenuation area there are several issues. An exposed cabinet. Holes in the ground which are poorly covered up. Electrical items ‘loosely’ covered with inadequate items such as wet wood. This was an area of concern before with a Sainsburys supermarket bag being the preferred method of providing cover previously. A major H&S concern again. I reported these elements to the HSE – I have not heard back from them but it will require them to carry out site investigations. It is unlikely that the HSE would inform me of what they expect the developer has to do but they are likely to notify if they are investigating matters.
I will be interested to learn of progress the company have indicated further will be done around these and the other outstanding issues. I am very concerned about the H&S matters in particular. I will endeavour to keep you informed of the progress with planning matters.
- A further email was sent by me on 27/04/23 as follows:
I note that some progress is being made in relation to the various issues at the Pear Tree Farm development which is good news. Aside from the introduction of topsoil at the front section, some laurel hedging has now been introduced (although I don't really approve of that!) and also a number of trees. I am looking to refer the other 'health and safety' concerns to the H&SE direct and I'll let you know what transpires from that.
A resident of Meadow Way contacted me this week with a number of concerns too, briefly as below:
- Ongoing concern around the adoption of the main sewerage system via Welsh Water. Do we have any further insight in that regard? The resident is keen for a definitive answer / position on the matter.
- Apparently in the past foul sewage was being removed by a tanker but this hasn't been seen for some time.
- Concern that residents are paying for the disposal of waste sewerage but aren't connected to the mains system.
The response as follows (28/04/23):
“I spoke with Welsh Water on Tuesday this week and they have informed me that they are now at the point they can progress with their legal agreement (s104) to adopt the foul sewerage. However whilst this is good news the legal process could take some time as the agreement will need to include all property owners.”
Park Way potholes
Following discussion with Cllr Hallows and residents, I logged the matter of the very potholed section of Park Way on 25/04/23 (Ref. HW510669429) and agree that this is a health and safety consideration, not least owing to the lack of pavement in parts in this location. The following response has been received from CWaC but I will pursue this further as the surface here is a known trip hazard and must be addressed properly as I do not consider the response received to be adequate:
“Thank you for your photos of Parkway, this has been inspected and no defects were found that meet our current criteria at the location you gave but I did identify an actionable at the opposite end of Parkway so raised a job accordingly. It will continue to be monitored via our highway safety inspections.”
Felling of a tree, Greenway (mid April)
Some concern was expressed around the felling of a tree on Greenway in mid-April. The following explanation was received from a CWaC Tree Officer:
“To update you, a job was raised by myself to remove a dying cherry tree outside number 19 Greenway following the loss of a branch which I believe nearly caused an accident. The tree was clearly in decline and its removal was required and justified.
The larger group of trees on the green are still awaiting a full assessment, I am aware that some are beginning the encroach onto the road but they all need an inspection before works can be raised, this is a priority for me once I am permitted to drive a company vehicle again following my leg injury. I hope this will be in the next week or so.”
- Pothole – Fiddlers Lane – Ref. TR512009765 (01/05/23). I am advised this does not meet the current intervention level for action.
- Drainage grids on Lodge Lane – Ref. HW511870555 (01/05/23). Concern was raised with me that drainage grids in this location were effectively sunk in the road and causing flooding. Highways officers have inspected the area and advised that no action will be taken at present as there is no flooding risk to properties. I will continue to monitor this.
- This is a timely moment to remind colleagues that reporting tools are available to them (or indeed residents) from the borough council to log a variety of defects or issues, such as potholes and other matters. The Council ‘Report It’ app is available on both iPhone and Android devices (for download from the usual sources) or issues can be logged via this link: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/contact-us/report-it
Outstanding issues to deal with in the coming months
A number of issues remain to be actioned which colleagues will be aware of from recent discussions, aside from those already noted in this report. These will be progressed as soon as possible and include:
- Obtaining a quote from CWaC and commissioning the new village sign on Long Lane as you enter Saughall (to be funded by the parish council).
- The introduction of double yellow lines in various identified areas of the village (to which I would wish to add the entrance to the Pear Tree Farm development).
- Progressing ongoing concerns regarding parking / access / green space in Saughall Hey.
- Tree maintenance matters in Greenway (CWaC ownership) – see comment above also.
- Tree maintenance matters in the vicinity of Meadowcroft / Newcroft (private ownership).
- Implementation of new tree planting (when the season allows) with the support of the Mersey Forest in the parish.
- Coronation of HM King Charles III and Queen Camilla. It was good that the parish council were able to act quickly to erect the new flagpole which I was delighted to join you all for the first flag raising prior to the Coronation on 06 May 2023. I was also pleased to see the flag of Ukraine flying recently which is a poignant reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by that country.
- Saughall Methodist Church. I was pleased to be present at a special Anniversary Service at the invitation of the Revd Tim Macquiban at the Methodist Church on 14th May 2023. This service marked 10 years in the current chapel and some 191 years of Methodism in the village. A very happy occasion.
- Cheshire railings at the Golden Jubilee Park. The works here look great – I am delighted to see they have been actioned in recent weeks.
- I am assisting a number of residents with issues in relation to Sanctuary Housing and am in touch with them direct to help resolve in due course.
Cllr Simon Eardley | Saughall and Mollington Ward
T: 07738 184101 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
F: fb.com/SimonEardleyChester | T: @simonjveardley