Although there were concerns over flooding risks, poor infrastructure and consultation, an affordable housing project has been approved in Helsby.
From the Cheshire West and Chester planning committee, only one vote favoured the Helsby housing project. However, five out of six members were in favour of building 241 properties on brownfield land. So, they voted against this proposal.
A former Honeywell industrial complex once stood on this site. Affordable housing provider Onward Homes will manage the new properties. These houses would be based on a mix of rental, shared ownership, and rent-to-own homes.
Novar ED&S Limited and Lane End Developments will build apartments that feature a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom layouts. Additionally, Homes England will provide two, three, and four-bedroom family homes. A Strategic Partnerships for Affordable Homes program will cover this development.
Councillor Paul Bowers of the Green Party in Helsby said to the committee: “I sent an email to the community at the start of this year highlighting this development. Many people were unaware of it, and after that, they contacted me in this regard.
“I feel the parish council and the people of Helsby failed to do their jobs. In my perspective, many people believe that these things got smuggled during the pandemic.”
He also warned that large-scale development could change the very nature of Helsby.
He said: “We understand that we need to achieve targets to meet our housing responsibilities. However, many believe that Helsby ought to be given credit for their work.
“If the project is approved, 700 new houses will be built over the next ten years. This in turn can take the nature of the village in a different direction.”
According to a report submitted by Hugo Deynem to the committee, Conservative councillor for Sandstone, the two primary schools were overcrowded. Helsby High had recently reported a surge in new students, which left local hospitals unable to handle the demand.
He further added: “Sad to say, the applicant did not engage with the community in any meaningful manner during the application process.”
In approving the proposal, Sam Dixon, committee member, said: “There are issues with this site, but mitigation measures got outlined in the officer’s report. “This borough is in need of housing. In addition to sustainability, we have a responsibility to meet our needs legally and within the law.”