Bin Collection Lorry
During the last two years the Council has replaced nearly 8,000 bins. This is in addition to the bins it supplies to new builds. The total is 10,000 a year. Apparently it feels this is just unsustainable. In total it costs the council £300,000 a year. So what is it proposing to do about this?
Firstly it will charge for the bins, new and replacements. About £30 per bin is the suggested charge with some discount for those in receipt of welfare benefits. If the council damages the bin it will replace it free of charge. If you demand a replacement bin but refuse to pay then you will not be given a bin!
Secondly all new bins will have the address of the resident embossed on it. An excellent idea that should reduce any confusion as to which household each bin belongs. Further it should deter bin thieves as long as the embossed address is on the body of the bin and not the lid, which can be replaced (so I am told).
Driving past Alprham these days you will be aware of some of the building that has taken place. Just opposite the junction with the turn off to Bunbury some new houses have sprung up. A little further along the A51 signs show that land has been sold with outline planning permission. Clearly the village has had a similar experience to Bunbury with a rush of planning applications over the last few years. Apparently about 40 houses are, or will be, built in the village. At Beeston a further 80 houses have now been given the go ahead. That is bound to have some impact on Bunbury.
The impact will come in a number of ways. Firstly, it will affect the school. Children from both these areas will come and seek places at the primary school. Of course the Beeston development is just in Chester and West Cheshire and children will be directed to the primary school in Tarporley. However, it is very likely that some parents will prefer to look to Aldersey Primary School instead for a variety of reasons. Traditionally primary school age children from Alpraham have tended to come to Bunbury. Clearly the numbers will increase. These additional children will also be joining the increased numbers generated from the 100 extra homes already scheduled to be erected or already built within Bunbury.
Secondly, all these additional houses come with cars attached! Usually these days 2 cars is the norm but possibly more given the difficulty for older children live and work away from home. More journeys to school, more trips to the shops more rabbit runs through the village between the A49 and A51. More people living in and around the village creates more indirect traffic. Delivery vans and lorries, trades people, etc., all needing to access the village and service our demands. This will not improve the quality of life in Bunbury.
Thirdly, we have also become aware that traffic brings more dangers to our health than the increased risks of accidents.. Air quality and the density of particulate matter in the atmosphere are urgent concerns. We tend to associate higher air pollution risks with urban areas but with increasing traffic in the village, we may see the emergence of local hotspots near the school at the start and end of the day and around the shops in the centre of the village. It shortens and degrades our lives. Noise also increases with more traffic. It also degrades our quality of life.
To manage these impacts will be a major concern over the next few years. I have suggested the introduction of a 20 mph zone around the village. This will go some way to reduce the impact of the additional traffic flow through Bunbury. It should deter the ‘rabbit runners’ looking for a short way to cross over between the A49 and A51. It will help with the noise pollution as well. As far as air quality is concerned, I am less certain of a beneficial outcome. At present the only solution is to discourage cars and vehicles and encourage walking and cycling. A 20 MPH zone will do that to some extent but the real solution is to move to electrical vehicles, and soon. Getting people out of cars and able to walk around in safety is another challenge. We cannot go on thinking we live in the rural idol of the 1920’s with horses and carts and very little vehicle traffic. Then roads without pavements worked fine, but not now. The volume of traffic let alone the increasing size of the cars and vehicles we choose to roam around in nowadays, all make walking (and cycling) more hazardous. Once a mini was a mini car, now it is just a badge on a standard sized car. So we do need more pavements as well as the 20 mph speed limit zone. Then we have some hope of holding onto the quality of life we enjoy in the village. We must shift the balance away from the vehicle in favour of the walkers and cyclists within the boundaries of the village or suffer the consequences.
It has been a little quiet on the planning front for a bit now. According to the Parish Council (PC) Chair Ron Pulford, it’s been a year since the village ‘welcomed’ an application to build another 15, or so homes. Since 2010 the village has seen the addition of 100 new homes. The developments include Tweddle Close, Oak Gardens, the Outspan and The Grange as either built or building. To come are Bowes Gate, Hill Close, the sites off Oak Gardens and Bunbury Lane, behind the retirement homes, and next to the medical Centre. All of these sites are within the maximum size of 15 dwellings specified in the Neighbourhood Plan (NP). That last point is something of a victory for the NP. In the same period plans to build 52 houses behind Bunbury Lane (west side) and 36 house on the Hill Close site have been rejected after going to appeal.
The original target for Bunbury was to provide room for at least 80 dwellings. This was allocated in the previous Cheshire East (CE) Local Plan and came as a result of the village being designated a Local Service Centre. That allocation is now under review as the authority has a new Local Plan. Cheshire East has to deliver around 39,000 homes by 2030. It has the sites, and some, to do that. But what we would like to know is what its plans are for Bunbury.
In a few weeks time we will see the new allocations part of the consultation process. By late summer that will be finalised and agreed. Early, and I stress informal comments, suggest that Bunbury is seen as having ‘done its bit’ and no further allocations will be made in this planning cycle (2010-2030). If that becomes reality then it is great news for the village. Of course small one-off developments (called ‘windfalls’ in planning jargon) will continue. However larger scale developments, should be a thing of the past at least until after 2030. It may be that some developers will try their luck but the balance of probability they will succeed is firmly against them if CE does as we hope and not allocate further development to Bunbury.