November 19, 2013 CEC Press Release
Cheshire East Fights to Protect Countryside
Cheshire East Council has vowed to fight two key planning applications in Congleton in order to protect the character of the Cheshire countryside
The decision was made following Friday’s strategic planning board meeting in which members voted in favour of opposing development on grounds that it would affect an important area of countryside south of Congleton town centre.
The appeals are the Moorings in Congleton; Kestral Drive and Goldfinch Drive in Congleton.
Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said: “We are determined to do what is right for the people of Cheshire East and we believe that there are sound planning grounds for fighting these appeals.
“We are not the only local authority in this position and indeed many of the Shire counties, like us, have raised concerns with the Government that the goalposts have been moved in terms of housing numbers, placing more pressure to build on the countryside.
“At the time the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) was prepared our housing calculations were in line with national guidance and we feel we have simply fallen foul of recent policy changes in the midst of shifting sands during a difficult economic period.
“This does not mean that we will be fighting each and every appeal but we will be doing all we can to state our case on these two appeals.”
Updated position on the SHLAA:
The SHLAA is an annual document pin-pointing allocated housing sites across the Borough and has recently failed to meet the Planning Inspectorate’s robustness test in two recent appeal decisions. This was in relation to plans for housing along Congleton Road and Abbey Road in Sandbach.
There are two methods of accounting for the shortfall in housing numbers due to the recession: The Liverpool Method and the Sedgefield Method. At the time the SHLAA was prepared, the Liverpool Method was endorsed by both the coalition Government and the House Builders Federation.
Liverpool Method: Cheshire East Council has used the long-established Liverpool Method. This spreads the shortfall over the number of years remaining in the development plan period – in the case of these appeals that was nine years.
Sedgefield Method: The Sedgefield Method mops up any shortfall in house-building over a five-year period. The Government appears to be suggesting that Cheshire East Council should have used this method.
The Council’s five-year supply using the Liverpool Method means that a basic 5,750 homes should be built in five years, with a five per cent buffer and backlog, totalling 6,777.
But the Inspectorate is now stating that land for a massive 3,250 extra houses should be identified on top of the basic requirement of 5,750 homes should be built, totalling 9,000 homes. This is expands the target to almost an eight-year supply of land
The Council is now seeking clarification from Planning Minister Nick Boles about how the authority can move forward and adhere to current guidance, which appears to have changed since August this year.