Councillors have deferred a controversial application for a concrete processing plant near Nantwich – with some questioning why the applicant would build an expensive new facility without planning permission, writes Belinda Ryan.

The Graham Heath Group has had permission for several years to operate its existing concrete panel business at Aston near Nantwich.

An application to change the use of the site at Station Yard on Wrenbury Road from mixed storage and retail to general industrial along with the provision of a replacement concrete plant, was refused by Cheshire East last year and dismissed at appeal earlier this year.

That was because of the noise and vibration impact on houses to either side of the proposed access.

A similar application, considered by the southern planning committee on Wednesday, had been recommended for approval by the council’s planners because the access has been relocated.

But councillors were unhappy after hearing conditions already imposed to restrict HGV movements to 24 a day were not working because of a loophole which didn’t restrict movement within the site.

They also criticised the planning officer’s report with Cllr Rachel Bailey (Audlem, Con) saying: “If I could move refusal with cogent reasons I would, but with a report that’s incomplete, with so many questions, I can only move deferral to allow the omissions to be rectified.”

The committee heard from Wrenbury parish councillor David Nutting the site area had more than doubled from the previous application, and HGV movements and operational processes had changed but planning officers failed to look into the impact of the changes.

“There were more than 300 objections to the original and this application demonstrating the significant impact on the amenity, human health and anxiety of at least 1,000 residents,” he said.

The applicant’s agent, Carl Copestick, said permission for the existing concrete panel plant to the north east of the site had been granted in 2012.

“This batching plant has come to the end of its operational life and needs to be replaced,” he said.

“To address this operational problem, the business ordered and erected, on the adjoining site, a replacement batching plant, although this plant has yet to become operational and is subject to the application before you.

“The replacement plant is state-of-the-art equipment which would operate in a more efficient, quiet and environmentally friendly way.”

But Brereton councillor John Wray (Con) said: “The new plant is actually closer now to Station Cottages than it was previously, so any improvements of the type of the plant would surely be negated by the plant being moved a few hundred yards closer to those cottages.”

He said the visual impact and dust would also be worse for the cottages.

Recently elected Sandbach councillor Mike Muldoon (Con) said he was “absolutely amazed” to go on the site visit to find what was being applied for had already been built.

“I can understand he [applicant] wants to introduce a plant that can be switched on as the other one goes off but, for me, that’s not a reason to risk a lot of money to put the plant from a to b and move it nearer to a residential area,” he said.

Dane Valley councillor Andrew Kolker (Con) said: “We’re bringing this from one location to another location, closer to residential properties.

“I think we need to get this right before we approve it rather than just rely on conditions.”

He seconded Cllr Bailey’s proposal for deferral and the application was deferred for a full review of the conditions, along with other issues.


  1. Eddie Forshaw says:

    Dear Nantwich News,

    I have read your recent article reporting the fact that the Cheshire East Planning Committee recently deferred planning application 23/1366N which proposes a change of use from retail adjacent to houses to B2 Heavy Industrial on the former Wrenbury Railway Station Goods Yard to allow operation of a concrete batching plant. I am a local resident living not far from the site and like many other local residents we are very concerned about the Graham Heath Group of companies operations on the former Creamery site and this proposal for the goods yard. The first point to make is that this batching plant and associated bunkers were erected without any planning permission and this application is retrospective. The Graham Heath Group knew that if they had submitted a planning application before construction that it would have been strongly objected to by Network Rail as being too close to the operational railway infrastructure. The Planning Officers have recommended approval, completely ignoring the objections and concerns submitted by the two affected Parish Councils and by local residents. Of fundamental importance is the fact that the planning officers have not demanded a full site noise and dust assessment by the Applicant, and therefore residents are exposed to untold harm. The planning officers have has also glossed over the fact that the Graham Heath Group of Companies has failed to comply with existing planning conditions on it’s other operations and that Cheshire East Planning Enforcement Officers have shown themselves incapable of enforcing any conditions on this company. For planning conditions to be effective they have to be robust and capable of proper enforcement. The Graham Heath Group have no respect for planning law and enforcement and have become a nightmare for local residents who have suffered noise, concrete dust and paint fumes from their various operations for years as well as operating outside of permitted hours.

    Eddie Forshaw.

  2. I am pleased at this quality of reporting that clearly illustrates the worrying lack of integrity over many years at Cheshire East.
    As your reporter pointed out, there is “a loophole” that allows uncontrolled numbers of HGVs onto Station Rd. The real irony is that this was pointed out by the Councillors and Mr Heath’s representative, and not by the Planning Officers and Highways Officer who were present!
    It was the Councillors who pointed out that the new plant was moving substantially nearer all the local housing, again not any Officers.

    Interestingly it was a recently elected Councillor who visited the site and was “absolutely amazed” to find what was being applied for had already been constructed. When it was pointed out to the Planning Officer that National Guidance stated this should be seen negatively and not positively he prevaricated saying this wasn’t true, by doing so supporting retrospective planning!
    I’m looking forward to the coverage of the Deferral meeting on September30th, as it looks at “conditions” and other “issues”.

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