PLANS to build 350 new homes on land close to the canal in Ellesmere Port have been given the green light.
Members of Cheshire West and Chester Council's strategic planning committee approved the application by St Modwen Developments.
The 11.7 hectare site at Cromwell Road borders land to the south which already has planning permission for 370 homes.
The news has been welcomed by the mayor of Ellesmere Port, Councillor Brian Jones, who used to work for steel manufacturer HH Robertson on the site before it was closed down by British Steel in 1997.
He said: “This is excellent news. That land has been empty for the last 17 years so I'm made up that something is being done with it. We need housing, and especially affordable housing, in the town.”
While there were no objections to the proposals, a report to the committee states that the housing development would put serious pressure on primary school places in the area.
To balance this, St Modwen will have to pay £548,000 to ensure the local school, Cambridge Road Primary School, is ready to receive the extra pupils.
The cash will be made available through a Section 106 agreement, which is money paid by companies to offset the impact their developments have on community infrastructure.
The report states: “The council’s Children and Young People’s Services officer has identified that the catchment primary school for this development is Cambridge Road Primary School, situated to the south of the site and at present the school has 11 surplus places and this is forecast to fall to 3 by September 2017. For this development the catchment secondary school is University of Chester CofE Academy and at present the school has 458 surplus places and this is forecast to rise to 564 by September 2019.
“Whilst there are sufficient places in the catchment secondary school there are insufficient places in the catchment primary school to accommodate the calculated child yield but these are forecast to fall by September 2017. As such a financial contribution of £548,121,84 will therefore be sought, and secured through a section 106 agreement.”
St Modwen is also required to pay £262,000 to improve playing fields at Grosvenor Road and £10,000 to upgrade traffic signals at the junction between Cromwell Road and Whitby Road.
It is understood that around 25 per cent of the new homes – a mixture of two-bedroom apartments and two to four-bedroom houses – will be 'affordable', in line with the local plan.
Overall, the report to the committee suggests that the development would be good for the town.
It states: “The site is located within close proximity of and within walking distance to Ellesmere Port town centre, the train station and the bus station.
“The site is considered to be a highly sustainable location. Policy H4 of the local plan, allows new housing developments within existing urban areas on sites not allocated for any particular use, provided that it is of satisfactory layout, character, density, scale, design, materials and landscaping, does not result in overlooking, overshadowing or loss of privacy.”