Go ahead for for 2.9 hectare airport car park in Cheshire green belt

Cheshire East Council has approved plans for an 800-space car park in the green belt to serve Manchester Airport, after officers advised that the proposal complied with a local policy to support airport operations and therefore met the "very special circumstances" necessary to justify consent.

Manchester Airport. Image by Thomas Nugent, geograph.org
Manchester Airport. Image by Thomas Nugent, geograph.org

The full application by Manchester Airport proposes a 2.9 hectare development next to existing car parks serving the airport and involves the demolition of two homes.

The council’s northern planning committee approved the plans earier this week.

An officers report to this week’s committee said the proposal was in compliance with a local plan policy, the saved T23 policy from the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan, outlining the operational area of the airport.

Policy T23 states that: "development and uses which will be permitted within this area are those which can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the local planning authority to be necessary for the operational efficiency and amenity of the airport. These shall include airfield operational facilities, airport ancillary facilities, transportation infrastructure and landscaping."

Officers said this meant the proposal provided the "required very special circumstances to clearly outweigh the identified harm to the green belt".

The report said the applicant’s strategy to reduce the amount of drop-off and taxi journeys to the airports, the limitations of public transport services to the facility and the pressure on existing car parks weighted in favour of the application.

Consideration of the application was deferred from August’s committee meeting to give the applicant more time to provide extra evidence on the need for the car park and the lack of alternative options.

Since that deferral, the council published its site allocations development plan document, which included a policy on what types of development would be permitted within the airport’s operational area.

However, planners said the document was at too early a stage to give it more than limited weight.

Due to the scale of the proposal and its green belt location, the final decision on the application rests with communities secretary Robert Jenrick.

Plans for the redevelopment of Manchester Airport, including the demolition of the existing Terminal One and the more than doubling in size of terminal two were approved in 2016.

A Planning feature examining ten circumstances 'special' enough to justify green belt development can be found here.

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