DEVELOPERS are being given another chance to tweak their plans for 268 homes behind the Verdin Exchange in Winsford.

Following discussions lasting more than two and a half hours, Cheshire West and Chester Council's planning committee deferred the scheme to a later meeting.

It followed key concerns surrounding the lack of a new road towards Bradford Road – which could take congestion away from the busy A54 High Street junction – as well as the loss of some playing field space, the scheme's environmental impact and late information on its financial viability.

Ed Harvey, representing Engie, told the committee last Thursday: "In our view, the significant scheme benefits should outweigh the loss of a small area of playing fields.

“These include the delivery of family homes, 30 per cent affordable units, 30 per cent shared equity units, self-build plots, six high-quality new sports pitches and 15 hectares of other open space.”

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The loss of 1.74 hectares from the playing fields was a major concern ahead of the meeting, leading to Sport England raising an objection.

Cllr Tommy Blackmore, Labour CWAC member for Over and Verdin, insisted this was an 'important objection' – particularly as the decision would be subject to approval from the Government.

However, it was not the only issue that stopped the committee giving the scheme its support.

Cllr Mike Baynham, Conservative CWAC member for Over and Verdin, flagged up the lack of a link road towards Bradford Road – which is required as part of any development on the site under the Winsford neighbourhood plan.

Winsford Guardian:

“That means that all of the 268 houses have to then feed onto the existing road network," he told the committee.

“I cannot even begin to explain how poor that network is currently with regard to traffic around school drop-off and pick-up times.

“While I welcome the money to improve the Grange Lane junction going down to Dingle Lane, the reality is that this is a very congested area of the network.

“Two to three cars per minute adding to that and then sitting there going nowhere, in the climate change emergency period, is quite – to be honest with you – beyond belief.”

Other concerns from neighbouring residents included access issues onto the open space provided in the scheme and security concerns around alleyways between some mews houses.

During the debate, Cllr Gina Lewis, Labour CWAC member for Over and Verdin, said: "It is unfortunate if you happen to live in the estate that already exists, and you have been looking out at fields and countryside since it was built.

Winsford Guardian:

“But it was identified in the neighbourhood plan that there would be housing there."

A vote to approve the plans in line with CWAC officers' recommendation was lost by seven votes to four, before the committee considered deferring them instead.

Planning officer Nick Smith was optimistic that the scheme could be improved if the developer had more time – although he accepted Engie had a 'finite amount of money in the pot' to do this.

The committee unanimously agreed to defer the plans, and an updated version will come back to a future meeting.