MAN Energy Solutions propose to build on Mirrlees Fields
The Fields are currently designated as a green space and are not available for residential development.
But MAN would like to overturn this designation for over one third of the Fields.
1. Build 150 houses on the big field of Mirrlees Fields (35% of the site). Access would be from Bramhall Moor Lane. The oak trees and rights of way would be preserved.
2. Transfer ownership of the remainder of the Fields to a Trust which would guarantee public access to a new ‘Country Park’ (65% of the site). Funding would be provided to maintain the ‘Park’.
Since we have begun to actively increase awareness of MAN’s intentions through emails to
supporters, delivering leaflets in the local area and social media, MFFG volunteers have been asked
what our official position is on the plans for development.
As it currently stands, there is no development to ‘oppose’. No planning application has been
submitted (although we know MAN have started the pre-application process with the Council) and
we have not seen any documents from either the pre-application or potential full planning
application. MFFG and local ward Councillors have been presented with high level ideas and an
outline of what could be incorporated into a subsequent planning application.
However, we do have opinions on what information has been shared with us so far.
If what we have seen, and what we then shared with our supporters, were to be included within a
Planning Application, MFFG would OPPOSE the application, urge our supporters to do likewise and
provide whatever guidance and support we could to ensure objections from the local community
were ‘valid’ in the eyes of the Planning Department and planning policy. The reason for this is
- The loss of the ‘big field’ is unacceptable. Covid-19 has further shown the importance of this
unique open space to the health and wellbeing of members of the local community as well
as to local wildlife and biodiversity.
- Two vehicular access routes would further exacerbate local traffic congestion, potentially
create a ‘rat run’ through the new housing development and facilitate future development.
- The ‘Country Park’ is not at all in keeping with the wishes of the local community. A car park
which encourages people to drive, an ‘event space’, a camping ground, significant amounts
of unnecessary hard landscaping etc could encourage anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping
and diminish the unique, wild and semi-natural character of the Fields.
- At this stage there is no visibility of the ‘trust’ that will own the remainder of the fields or the
mechanism that will provide revenue for maintenance and management. The safeguards for
the remaining space must be sufficiently robust and ensure NOTHING else could be
- The scale of development is too great. 150 units, 350 cars and, potentially, 350+ children will
all stretch existing resources and infrastructure beyond breaking point. Local schools, NHS
GPs and dentists and the local road network are already at capacity.
Given our constituted, charitable objectives, it is equally important to highlight to supporters and
the wider community that should any planning application (and subsequent appeal) be rejected by
the Council, this will not necessarily safeguard the future of Mirrlees Fields, bring them into wider
community use or ensure they become a well-managed and safe public space that will enhance the
quality of life for local people.
- The Fields will remain in private ownership and the possibility for sale and future planning
applications would remain. For many in the local community this is a case of deja-vu having
been in this position before.
- Planning designations like Strategic Open Space, Green Belt or Local Green Space do not
prevent development as designations can be challenged and changed. The recent case
involving the SSSI, designated Green Belt land in Heald Green (sold to Bloor Homes by the
Seashell Trust) which, following a Public Enquiry where a Government appointed inspector
overturned the Council’s original decision to refuse planning for 325 new homes, highlights
this very plainly. MFFG have produced a separate note on some of the technical planning
related considerations that could influence planning decisions.
- The ‘quality’ of the Fields would not be protected. Experience has shown that volunteer
support is not enough to undertake the essential land management that Mirrlees Fields
requires nor can a voluntary group secure consistent and sustainable revenue, from
donations or grant, to fund works and public liability insurance. MAN currently provide
management of the Fields and support our volunteer activity to this end. If any future
landowner withdraws that support, or even frustrates volunteers to access their private
property, and only provides the minimum statutory obligations to enable public rights of
way to remain open, the quality of the space will deteriorate. This could support any future
planning application by any subsequent landowner.
Preventing development on the Fields is reliant on whoever owns the land to not allow it to be built
We cannot stress this enough. Only the transfer of ownership or sale to people that are bound to
protect the site and have the financial resources to allow them to do this will safeguard the Fields
in perpetuity and avoid future planning applications and battles with developers.