Local residents say they are “devastated” by a multi-million pound plan to build a logistics and science park on 185 acres of Green Belt close to the Bowdon Roundabout.
Tatton Estate, the largest private landowner in Cheshire East, is proposing to build a “state of the art, high quality business park” called the Cheshire Gateway that would have a total footprint of 1.6million sq ft and span junctions 7, 8 and 9 of the M56.
It would comprise two halves – a logistics hub with a supersized warehouse that would be likely to prove attractive for internet retailers, and a science and technology park being aimed at science and advanced manufacturing companies.
The land has been coveted for a while but Tatton Estate has resisted previous approaches, but has now teamed up with a developer, Barwood Developments, and say the project could be fully delivered inside 10 years.
It says the plan would create around 2,500 jobs within the high-tech logistics, science and advanced manufacturing industries.
The plan also complements key pillars of the Northern Powerhouse economic growth plan, particularly the Atlantic Gateway, a £50bn, 50-year project led by Peel Group to drive development and growth in the corridor between Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
Tatton Estate believes the site is perfectly positioned given its demographic location and excellent transport links, especially with work on a new £200m A556 bypass from Knutsford to Bowdon nearing completion.
But Ged Mann, speaking on behalf of some of the residents local to the scheme in Little Bollington, said they were “devastated” by the plans.
He said: “We are devastated. We have had the new bypass going through, we’ve had HS2, but this is probably the worst of the lot.
“One thing for sure with an industrial centre – you will have lorries going on those roads 24/7. It’s going to be mayhem – traffic will be horrendous.”
He said the scheme would “take away the unique character” of the area, and questioned why Green Belt land was being targeted.
“Why not on a brownfield site?,” added Mann, “there are loads in the North. This area of Green Belt is hugely important for the region, but if we put a lorry distribution hub there then it will just look like any other Northern town.
“The residential areas adjacent to this development are some of the best in the North West and help attract business leaders to the region. To blight this area with large scale warehousing facilities would be extremely shortsighted.”
Mann said he was concerned that many people in Bowdon and Altrincham had no idea of the proposals, and at one public meeting with Henry Brooks, the managing director of Tatton Estates, had been told that residents in Bowdon had not been properly informed because it did not have a parish council.
The National Trust at Dunham Massey are understood to be against the scheme, and we have asked Trafford Council for their own comments on the proposals.
A February 2016 report, commissioned by Cheshire East Council on the demand for a logistics hub on the site, found that given the existing logistics sites at Airport City, Port Salford and developing plans for Carrington in Trafford, there was “insufficient evidence available to suggest that Greater Manchester will be unable to meet the demand for logistics in this area”.
Highways England are also “concerned that there would be a detrimental impact upon the operation of the M56 heading north-eastbound toward Manchester”.
Tatton Estate did not want to comment at this time, but a spokesperson said more information would be forthcoming in the next few weeks. The Planning Inspectorate is understood to be considering the proposals in the autumn.