I HAD thought that the onslaught on land
in Nantwich for more housing had come to an end in the current
economic climate. Although the houses planned for Stapeley Water
Gardens seem to be on the cards again, with the announcement of the
closure of The Oasis there, the first brick has yet to be laid. And
that is many months after the housing plans was first announced.
[2016 update: Stapeley
Gardens is now well under way.]
powers-that-be of Reaseheath College have announced a new plan for
more houses. Not just a few, but 550 new homes. Not that the college
will be directly affected by the new development - apart from the
income from the sale of the land - as the site (far right) is next to the Weaver
Stadium, home of Nantwich Town F.C., all but in the centre of Nantwich.
OR, at least, that is what could happen
in the near future. In a report in the Nantwich Chronicle (July 28),
labelled "Exclusive by Will Harris" the proposal is described as
being "at its earliest consultative stage".
It is for 37 acres of
land between the college's equestrian centre, facing the college
across the A51, and the Weaver Stadium. Of the 550 homes, 140 would
be "affordable homes". A further eight acres for employment starter
units which would "bring in potential employers of Reaseheath
students and local residents" is also envisaged.
The aforementioned consultation
process is apparently to help Cheshire East Council plan for the
future and produce a new development plan - a Local Development
Framework - looking ahead to 2026.
THE news of the giant plan came from the
college Principal, Meredydd David, who is quoted in The
Chronicle as saying "The land sale would
release funds to allow our continued
investment into new sports, teaching and recreational facilities
which would be open to the public." And he added: "We believe Reaseheath is the backbone of the community and we're playing an
influential part in allowing Nantwich to maintain its position as a
thriving county town and a desirable place to live."
Since the public are
currently being consulted on the idea, a cynic would say that the
comment about facilities being open to the public was a ploy to get
support for the plan. As for the college being the "backbone of the
community", I haven't heard that claim made before.
important, of course, but while the college also runs events such as
lambing weekends to which the public are invited, and has a maize
maze for children each year, and is a respected establishment, is it
really the "backbone" of the community? What about all the other
input from local people, behind our various attractions (Holly Holy
Day, the Jazz, Blues and Music Festival and the Food and Drink
Festival) that attract visitors, and their money, each year? What
about places such as Nantwich Museum which bring people to the town
who then spend money in local shops?
Is Mr David making a claim
too far? Is he over egging the pudding?
Other aspects of the
college's plan are: a new link
road between the Waterlode (inner ring road) and
Beam Bridge roundabout; and a riverside walk
linking the A51 and the Waterlode.
The new link road would
clearly be the fourth access to the roundabout - not far from the
entrance to the college on the A51 - currently just a hedge. That
link road might benefit people from Audlem,
Whitchurch and other points south, or
would it? They might join people from Crewe and the Potteries who
would hopefully bypass the town and reach Beam Bridge
along the A51.
The road would be no use to people
from the Chester and Wrexham, etc, directions who would have used
the outer ring road. So who would it benefit?
There is already an attractive
walk from the town side of Beam Bridge to the River Weaver bridge in
High Street / Welsh Row, so the new one would be a duplicate walk,
simply situated on the other side of the river - but a few yards
nearer to the college.
HAVING said all that . . . Given
that the Development Framework is for 16 years in the future,
perhaps there will be a need for more homes by then (I still think
we have enough homes in Nantwich for the moment).
But, opposite the
site of the 550 homes there is the current Kingsley Fields housing
development (seen across the Waterlode, below) and so the new development
could be regarded as an extension of that. [Update: It is.]
This will have a
lesser impact on the town than if it were a completely new area. Better
there, I suppose - on a currently empty field (left) - rather than taking the
place of further ancient sites in the centre of town.
And, of course, 2026 is
sufficiently far ahead for the infrastructure of the town to be
brought up to date to serve the needs of all the extra 2,000 people
that the homes will bring in. Isn't it?