The Hartford Banner

The Hartford Banner


Historic Planning Matters

This section needs updating / reworking as much of it is now irrelevant.

This section is included to show what issues and plans for the village have caused concern over the years. Some of these failed or were withdrawn, others went ahead but with a good degree of success in modifying proposals to be less detrimental to the village.

Although these matters are now closed it is provides an audit trail of planning proposals within Hartford.

Grange Farm

This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only.
Recent History of Development Proposals
Many people within the village will be aware of the original fight, in 1996, to prevent the Grange land in the centre of the village being used to build 300 houses. Due to the combined efforts of many people and some fortuitous government legislation that threat was narrowly avoided.

The subsequent redesignation by VRBC of the land from housing to open countryside in a revised Local Plan was felt to ensure that no development would take place for at least five years.

However, part of the Local Plan process in 2005 allowed people to object that land had been omitted from particular categories. Netherton Estates and Persimmon Homes did so with Grange Farm - asking for the land to be categorised for "retail and commercial use with housing infill".

This information was included in an Omission List that was complied by VRBC and made available to the Inspector who reviewed the Local Plan before it came into force. (This was necessary as part of the public consultation exercise and did not imply VRBC necessarily agreed with the contents of the Omissions List).

If the Inspector held that the change was justified it would be binding on the Council.

The public only had limited time to raise their objections to anything included within the Omissions List and it was clearly in the village's best interest that as many people as possible did so. All objections from the public also went to the Inspector.

The danger was that people were not aware that this process was in hand until it was too late to influence the outcome.

The Civic Society has objected to the proposal to reclassify the land, as did many Hartford residents. We understand that VRBC received approximately 80 objections.

April 2006 the Public Inquiry into the new Local Plan confirmed VRBC's decision to reclassify the Grange Farm land as open countryside and this should have protected it from development until 2016.

A copy of the Inspector's findings for Grange Farm is reproduced below for your convenience:-
start of extract


No. Name

895/08 Netherton Estates and Calmland Properties Ltd

0906/06 Persimmon Homes


See Annex


a. Whether the land should be allocated for a mixed-use development.

b. Whether the adopted Local Plan allocation (H2.02) should be carried forward.

c. Whether the site should be reserved for housing purposes.

Inspector's Reasoning and Conclusions

5.30.1 The objection site is allocated for residential development in the adopted Local Plan and is included within the Hartford settlement boundary. In the VRBLPFRA the allocation is deleted and the site is returned to open countryside.

5.30.2 It would appear that the site was included within the settlement boundary of Hartford because it was allocated for development. I have dealt with the issue of whether the objection site should be included within the settlement boundary of Hartford in paragraphs 2.12.5-6 of this Report. I have concluded that, now that it is no longer allocated for development, the site should not be included within the settlement boundary because its size and character allow it to operate as open countryside which is separate to, and distinct from, the character of the built-up part of the settlement.

5.30.3 PPG3 advises that the choice of housing allocations should follow a sequential sequence with previously-developed land within urban areas being preferred for development. It also makes clear that there is a presumption that previously-developed land should be developed before greenfield sites. The council has allocated sufficient sites in sustainable locations within urban areas and largely made up of previously-developed land to meet housing requirements. In my view it is proper that sites such as the objection site should not be preferred for development ahead of the chosen allocations.

5.30.4 The objectors propose a mixed use allocation on the part of the site which is occupied by the Grange Farm buildings. The farm buildings are located close to the heart of the settlement. However, as agricultural buildings they do not fall within the definition of previously-developed land. The buildings are partly overgrown and this part of the site has an untidy and partially derelict character. I accept that redevelopment would allow the site to be tidied up. However, I do not consider that this by itself provides sufficient justification for development. The objectors suggest a range of uses to which the site could be put. However, apart from affordable housing, there is no clear evidence to suggest that there is an otherwise unmet demand for any of the other developments. If such demand did exist, I have seen no evidence to indicate that the objection site would be the most appropriate location in which to meet it.

5.30.5 I accept that in the adopted Local Plan the objection site is in a Tier 1 location and that a mixed use development could help in providing local employment, shopping and other opportunities. However, in the absence of any clear evidence of need for the facilities, I do not consider that an allocation is necessary.

5.30.6 Within the Plan, Monitor and Manage approach to housing provision, I can see no sound reason for identifying reserve housing sites. The housing delivery programme set out in Policy H2a will deliver adequate numbers of dwellings. If shortfalls arise, the Plan, Monitor and Manage approach would allow the council to identify divergence from the programme and to implement remedial measures. This may require the bringing forward of additional sites but it would be for the council to decide which of the many candidate sites would best meet national guidance and its own objectives.


I recommend that no modification is made to the plan.
end of extract

Network Rail
This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only
Steel fencing (1.8 metre) to be erected along Manchester-Chester railway Line
Work undertaken by Network Rail in Cuddington clearly indicates that the railway company intends to erect a 1.8 M steel palisade fence along the boundary of the railway line and residential property. It appears it is their intention to apply this policy throughout the northwest. The work is likely to take place in Hartford during the next financial year.

This action may cause distress to residents whose property adjoins the railway track for a number of reasons.

  • Such a fence at the back of small gardens in unsightly and intrusive
  • People living in the town houses on Beech Road are extremely close to the boundary. The tall fence would obstruct their view significantly
  • There may be dispute over the boundary and householders fences or hedges could be removed if deemed to be on Network Rail property. Would there be consultation?
  • Some residents have sheds or have extended their gardens onto Network Rail land, such intrusions need to be removed
  • Is the building of such an intrusive fence in keeping with the appearance of the village?

  • This issue was discussed at the Hartford Parish Council Meeting on Monday 13th December.
    Residents and the Parish Council need to be kept informed of Network Rail's intentions.

    Network Rail contact:
    Sarah McArdle
    Community Relations Manager
    Network Rail
    Room 307
    Rail House
    Store Street
    Direct Line: 0161 2288853
    Fax: 0161 2288790
    General line: 0161 2288605

    Network Rail agreed to a site meeting in March between themselves, Mike Hall MP, the Parish Council and a representative of the residents. At the meeting Network Rail agreed to re-examine the risk assessment for that section of line.

    The Hollies
    This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only

    Planning Application 05/0219/FUL
    The Hollies - School Lane
    We were informed that plans had been submitted to build two detached houses (one 4 bedroom and one five bedroom with detached double garages) in the grounds of The Hollies.

    This is a Grade II Listed Building located off School Lane.

    February 2005 - A resubmission by J Godfrey of a previous application (APP/2003/1779) which was refused by Vale Royal Borough Council and again subsequently at appeal. It asks for permission to build two dwellings in "surplus garden area".Objections needed to be submitted to VRBC by interested parties not later than 7th April 2005.

    The plans could be inspected at the Council Offices, The Drumber, Winsford.

    March 2005 - The Society objected to the proposal on the basis that it would remove the proper setting for The Hollies as it would severely reduce the surrounding gardens.

    April 2005 - The Vale Royal Borough Council Planning Committee's decision was "Full application refusal"

    May 2005 - J Godfrey has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision by VRBC to refuse permission. The appeal, by mutual agreement, was dealt with by written submissions rather than a Public Inquiry.

    August 2005 - The appeal was refused by the Inspector.

    Sandiway Cottage
    This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only
    Planning Application APP/2003/1643

    Sandiway Cottage - Chester Road

    This is the beautiful half-timbered house on the left of Chester Road as you enter the village from the Winsford direction. It is noted for the glorious display of spring flowers amongst the trees that surround the property. It is thought to date from before 1830 and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the village, adding a tremendous amount of character to the area.

    You may be aware that, after a long fight to preserve one of the oldest buildings in Hartford, Vale Royal Borough Council finally granted planning permission for houses to be built at Sandiway Cottage. It was originally built around 1780 and was probably a hunting lodge for an owner who wished to ride with the Cheshire Forest hunt (whose stables were at Sandiway) - however, this is not certain.

    The original plans involved the demolition of this historic house and its replacement with blocks of flats and modern houses. This was vigorously opposed by the Society in conjunction with the Parish Council, our elected officials and VRBC. This resulted in the application being refused and a subsequent appeal by the developer against the VRBC decision. Despite total opposition from all the local bodies the Central Government Inspector granted permission for the development to take place.

    However during this process important concessions were achieved that ensured the survival of the main house and preserved a large number of the trees on the site.

    Subsequently the original developer sold on the site to Hillcrest Homes who have taken a much more sympathetic approach to the development.

    They met with the Society and the Parish Council on site and took on board various suggestions with regard to the landscaping of the site and the preservation of the masses of spring bulbs at the front of the house. It is good to see a developer that is willing to engage with the local community.

    Hillcrest will be preserving the majority of Sandiway Cottage. Some later extensions to the rear of the property will be removed and replaced by a modern extension in the style of the original building. This will house a number of flats. The frontage of the building will be preserved and the view from the road will remain substantially unchanged. The outbuildings at the rear of the house will be demolished as the older ones are in a dangerous condition and the modern ones of no intrinsic value.

    There will be a block of flats and modern semi-detached and detached houses built behind the Cottage and screened by the main house and landscaping. A third of the 36 houses and flats will be affordable housing.

    This approach will preserve the character and amenity value of Sandiway Cottage as seen from Chester Road as there will be no parking for cars in front of the Cottage and the spring bulbs and the landscaping in front of the house will be retained. Indeed, Hillcrest intend to replace the front fencing with Cheshire railings so that the house will be more visible.

    The ongoing viability of these older properties is a difficult area. They must be used in order to sustain their existence or they will be lost to future generations. Too many properties are allowed to fall into disrepair and fall prey to persistent vandalism - eventually being demolished “because they are dangerous”.

    It still can not be said that there is a need for additional housing in Hartford but the proposed Hillcrest development represents the best solution for the village given that central government have insisted that it can take place.

    It is also a creditable result for the Society in influencing the debate and the final outcome in order to preserve the best of the village.
    History of the Development Proposals
    October 2003 - The original application was submitted by Morris Developments Ltd to demolish Sandiway Cottage and to erect two blocks of sixteen flats and sixteen detached houses. It is notable that the plan included an access to the fields at the back of the property for "possible future access" - this land is currently Green Belt and not allocated for housing use but indicates the developers hope that this could be changed in the future, leading to yet another major development in Hartford.

    November 2003 - The developer presented amended plans, together with corrected site location and revised proposed development details. The revised proposed development still included demolition of Sandiway Cottage but replaced the two blocks of flats and sixteen houses with a larger number of houses. The application was now for "The principle only of housing development and means of vehicular access with matters relating to siting, design, external appearance and landscaping reserved"

    February 2004 - The Council considered the proposal which was opposed by the Parish Council and the Civic Society. The recommendation from the VRBC Planning Department was for rejection. The Council Planning Committee's unanimous decision was "Full application refusal"

    April 2004 - Morris Developments Ltd appealed to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions against the refusal by VRBC to grant planning permission.

    January 200 - The Inquiry was held on the 19th January at 10.00am at Wyvern House, The Drumber, Winsford. Persons interested in the appeal could, if they wished, attend the inquiry and, at the Inspector's discretion, state their case, either in person or through a representative.

    The enquiry was extended to a second day, held at the Northwich Memorial Hall with an accompanied visit to site by the Inspector on the 21st January

    The developers, on the first day of the inquiry, offered a unilateral agreement to retain Sandiway Cottage and to preserve a number of the mature trees on the site. At this point it is not clear how cast iron this agreement would be but it would still result in the loss of 45 trees from the site.

    They are now proposing to build approximately 37 houses and apartments within the grounds of the main house; 30% of which would be affordable housing. The Cottage would be renovated and extended to create a block of ten two-bedroom apartments, with the front aspect retained. There would also be a block of twelve "affordable" two bedroom apartments, a block of five mews properties and ten individual four-bedroom houses. As this is an application for permission in principle, the details of the actual properties (should the inquiry uphold the appeal) could of course change before a detailed plan is presented to the Council.

    Over two days of evidence and cross examination many aspects were covered, but there was one primary matter. VRBC defended the decision to refuse permission by asserting that there was already an oversupply of houses in the Borough and that windfall building was a threat to the Northwich Vision regeneration plan, whereas the developers sought to refute the oversupply and to say that the houses were needed

    Vale Royal Borough Council have, regardless of the outcome of the inquiry, issued a Tree Preservation Order to cover many, but not all, of the trees on the site.

    The Civic Society remains totally opposed to this development and fully supports VRBC's decision to refuse permission. It is our belief that the developers are seeking to exploit a window in the timing of the planning cycle - i.e. to claim that the current Local Plan has been overtaken by events and new planning guidance, and that as newer documents have not yet been issued they cannot be relied upon.

    The Civic Society and the Parish Council, together with local residents and Councillor Keith Musgrave spoke against the proposal at the public inquiry. It is our understanding that Mike Hall MP has written to the Inspectorate to express his opposition.

    February 2005 -The Inspector indicated that she expected to issue her decision week commencing 28th February.

    March 2005 - The Inspector granted the appeal and permission was given in principle to build on the Sandiway Cottage site. The full decision can be read as a pdf file below. The basis of the Inspector's decision seems to be that she believed the appellant's case that there will be an undersupply of housing in Vale Royal after 2006 - a position disputed by VRBC. Quite how this stacks up against the decision to disallow the Winnington Urban Village because it was premature (i.e. the houses were not required yet) is difficult for the man in the street to rationalise. There is a great danger that this decision will open the floodgates to further applications for infilling that will destroy the open spaces within the village. There are already two proposals to build in the grounds of listed buildings within the village.

    As there is no effective appeal against the decision we can only hope to apply some constraint to the detailed planning application when it is submitted. It is essential to try and preserve as much of the character of the Cottage and its setting as possible.

    July 2005 - Hillcrest Homes acquired Sandiway Cottage for development.

    September 2005 - A full planning application was lodged by Hillcrest Homes for the development of Sandiway Cottage. It proposed 36 new dwellings, two and three storey. The Application Number is 05-1542-FUM. The plans represent a more considerate treatment of the Cottage itself with the whole frontage retained and all parking to the rear of the property. Some of the rear extension will be demolished and there will be a new block of apartments behind the current house. In addition there will be detached and semi-detached houses which, having dormer roofs, are effectively three stories high. These are out of character with the surrounding properties.

    November 2005 - The proposed development by Hillcrest Homes was discussed at the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday 15th November. A number of concerns were expressed by members and the decision of the Committee was to defer a decision until after the Committee members had had a chance to visit the site.

    December 2005 - VRBC granted planning permission to Hillcrest Homes to build 36 properties on the site.

    April 2006 - Final planning permission granted subject to an S106 Legal Agreement.

    Changes to the Junction of Bradburns Lane
    This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only

    The changes to the Bradburns Lane Junction went ahead regardless of all the efforts and wishes of Hartford residents. The work has been completed to a high standard but the questions raised over the true benefit to Hartford, as opposed to creating a route for traffic from the proposed Winnington Urban Village, remained unanswered. The ability of the Highways Department to make drastic changes to a Conservation Area, without any planning process, has been raised by the Society's secretary at a meeting with the Prime Minister - he was surprised it could happen. Only time will tell if changes will be made that protect other Conservation Areas.

    The original posting on the changes is appended below for information and background.

    "Many of you will be aware from coverage in the local newspapers, Hartford News and the circular to members of the Civic Society that Cheshire County Council Highways Department are planning to dramatically alter the Bradburns Lane junction at the centre of the village. This is part of a set of proposed changes. In brief, they propose to cut a slip road through the grassed area at the end of Bradburns Lane, install traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing at the end of The Green by the Red Lion and improve the junction where the one way system past the Church Hall meets School Lane. The traffic lights are to be sequenced.

    The Civic Society and the Parish Council have been trying to get involved in discussing the proposals with the Council but meetings and correspondence to date have been disappointing in that the Council feels since it owns the land, it can do whatever it pleases.

    In our recent survey of members feelings we received an 80% response and only one member was in favour of the proposal.

    Numerous letters have been written but the situation is perhaps best summed up by the one from Mike Hall MP to the Chief Executive of Cheshire Council following a meeting with representatives of both the Civic Society and the Parish Council at which he expressed his support for our opposition to the slip road element of the plan.

    "Hartford Civic Society and Hartford Parish Council are opposed to the part of the proposal which affects the junction of Bradburns Lane and Chester Road. This proposed slip road for traffic turning left at the Bradburns Lane junction with the A559 will not bring any benefits to the village.

    The optimising Capacity A559 Northwich Corridor Study concludes this proposal will only "result in a slight positive impact on the efficiency of the junction" for vehicular access.

    The conclusion of the study is challenged on the grounds that the figures used for the volume of traffic turning left into the slip road have been significantly overstated when compared to recent traffic counts made by the Borough Conservation Officer and Hartford Civic Society.

    To achieve this very questionable slight improvement on the junction Cheshire County Council are proposing a slip road - left turn filter lane that will go through a triangular grassed public amenity area, with the Hartford Village Stag Sign, ancient drinking fountain, benches and trees. This land is within a designated conservation area. The slip road would completely destroy a major feature of the Village of Hartford. This runs directly against the requirements of conservation area designation to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the area.

    The Hartford Village Design Statement, which has been adopted as supplementary planning guidance, has not been adhered to in respect of the proposed sequencing of traffic lights at the top of the Green. The Village Design Statement specifically notes that sequenced traffic lights are an inappropriate solution within the village environment. Cheshire County Council played a comprehensive role in drawing up the Hartford Village Design Statement and should respect its conclusions.

    This proposed slip road will not bring any improvement in management of traffic through Hartford. However, if it is built it will have a detrimental impact on the character of the village.

    When members of the Hartford Civic Society and Hartford Parish Council questioned the need for this particular part of the package they were informed that it was an "all or nothing package" and if the proposed slip road was excluded from the package the whole package would have to be abandoned. They were further advised that the scheme has to be approved, the specifications for the work completed, the tenders for the work published, tenders invited for work, tenders to do the work approved, contracts let and work started before 31st March 2009, or the scheme would not go ahead and the £500,000 earmarked for the scheme would be lost."

    Hartford Manor
    This issue is closed and shown for historic purposes only
    Planning Application 05/0068/FUM

    This is a Grade II Listed Building and the listing includes the outbuildings. It is currently the Head Office of Holidaybreak plc and is located on Greenbank Lane.

    January 2005 - Holidaybreak plc submitted a proposal to demolish outbuildings at Hartford Manor and construct a three storey office and distribution centre. Objections needed to be submitted to VRBC by interested parties not later than 18th April 2005.

    March 2005 - The Society objected to the proposal on the grounds that the outbuildings were also listed and the owners did not seem to have given proper consideration to reusing the existing structure.

    April 2005 - The application was withdrawn.