Residents will be aware that there has been some confusion in relation to Planning Notices that have been posted around the Channels site recently. The Notices linked to a submission by the landowners to amend S106 planning conditions which required the continued provision of an 18 hole golf course adjacent to the site.
In the absence of robust information as to what this would mean for residents, I met with Ptarmigan Land (who work with the landowners to develop and sell land) in an attempt to clarify the position. The information below is high level however it does make clear the position as conveyed to the Community Group.
The diagram below shows three key land areas. The area within the red boundary represents the current Channels development and includes all phases of building that were originally planned. The darker blue boundary represents land that was identified as part of the original master plan and is where the 18 hole golf course was to be re-provided. The lighter blue areas belong to the landowner and part of this land (Little Channels) is where new golfing & leisure facilities are proposed to be situated.
It is important to note that part of the original master plan was always to create large areas of landscaped parkland within the original development boundary. The image below shows the areas that will be developed and the Community Group Committee does have access to detailed landscaping drawings which make clear the extensive work that will be undertaken for the benefit of residents.
It is also important to note that the land to the North & North East of the original development boundary has long been identified for potential future housing as part of the North Chelmsford Area Action Plan. Whilst original planning conditions (approved over 6 years ago) required the continued provision of an 18 hole golf course, it seems that it was always likely the land would at some stage be required for housing development.
Taking this into account, and given the fact that the landowners have provided comprehensive information to support the fact that provision of an 18 hole golf course is no longer a viable business model, it would appear that future development to the North & North East is inevitable. The landowners have additionally provided detailed plans of how they wish to develop Little Channels into a different type of golfing & leisure complex.
As it stands if the S106 planning modification is granted, it does potentially pave the way for some housing development although to some extent this was always identified for the general area anyway. There is additional road infrastructure planned as part of any future development (including the North East Bypass) and it is probably the impact of this infrastructure not happening which should be the biggest concern for residents.
The proposed parkland is currently part of the remaining golf course. If the S016 modification is not granted, the parkland will still become available however this may take far longer. If the S106 modification is granted, work can begin much sooner and residents will have access to large areas of managed parkland, walking & cycling trails all of which should start to be accessible from Spring 2019.
Although the window for commenting on the planning submission has closed, all of the documents including the covering statement and proposals for new facilities at Little Channels, can be found here.
Chair, Channels Residents Community Group