No new village hall for Pickmere
Parish councillers were told that there would be no new village hall for Pickmere, following plans to build on green space.
Cheshire East Council’s northern planning committee rejected plans to convert Turton Pavillion, in Jacobs Way, into a 227sq m village hall.
Pickmere Parish Council owns both sites, and it wanted to sell the old village hall off for redevelopment to ‘almost entirely’ cover the cost of the new hall.
Cllr Andrew Shore, chairman of Pickmere Parish Council, told the committee that the old facilities are at the tipping point ‘from assets to liabilities’.
He said: “For a number of years now Pickmere Parish Council has been wrestling with a dilemma of two ageing buildings – both needing funding for repairs and upgrades.
“Neither meet what we want to deliver – that being an improved facility with a wide range of activities on offer, and affordable for a small village precept.
“We want a building that residents can be proud of, that enhances and supports village life, is eco-friendly and sustainable.”
Cllr Shore added that a professional surveyor quoted ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ as a cost to bring the old village hall up to scratch, and that the parish council is ‘not about making do and mend’.
But Turton Pavilion sits on the Informal Recreational Open Space (IROS) in Pickmere – and both CEC officers and dissenting residents objected to development taking place on the land.
Virginia Brown, a member of Pickmere Parish Council when it was handed the IROS from the old Macclesfield Borough Council in 1997, insisted there is ‘no need’ for the building on the open space.
“I would like to say how grateful we all are for it being made possible for us to have the IROS,” she said.
“We appreciate it very much for its informality, its tranquillity and its beauty – and we don’t want to have other things which would completely spoil its ambiance.
“We never thought for a minute that it would be anything other than an open space. Even before that when it was a commercial site, that particular field had always been a field for people to relax in.”
A total of 73 letters of objection were sent to CEC against the scheme, and most committee members sided with their views during the debate.
Cllr Hilda Gaddum, Conservative, said: “I find it very sad in the sense that when I went on the website and saw the number of objections, I couldn’t believe the disconnect between the parish council and the residents of Pickmere.”
Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour, added: “To get an application like this you need the support of the community, and that hasn’t come across today.”
But Cllr Liz Durham, Conservative, had more sympathy for what Pickmere Parish Council was trying to do.
She said: “I’m torn because I can understand why they want to have a facility that would be benefitting the village, and the village then may actually come together, which it doesn’t seem to be doing at the moment.”
Nine members voted to refuse the application, while two councillors abstained.