INSPECTOR’S COMMENTS ON LOCAL PLAN EXPLAINED
To try and help villagers understand the implication of the Inspector’s interim comments on the Local Plan, LoveGoostrey have provided the following summary :-
NUMBER OF HOUSES
The Inspector recommends that further work is undertaken to the Local Plan before it is submitted for ratification. More work is recommended to confirm the number of houses required. The Inspector believes 40,000 homes are required rather than CE’s assumption of 27,000 homes, ie approx. 30% more houses are required in the borough than currently allowed for in the Local Plan. He feels that CE have been too pessimistic in the amount of houses that would be required compared with the potential jobs that could be generated as a result of the proposed development areas, and hence would restrict economic growth in the borough.
The Inspector’s main concerns relate to the limited development proposed for Handforth, Poynton, Knutsford and Wilmslow and recommends more land is released for houses in those areas to meet the likely demand.
The Inspector agrees with Cheshire East’s Settlement Hierarchy, so it looks like Goostrey will remain a Local Service Centre. It also looks like Holmes Chapel will remain a Local Service Centre rather than a Key Service Centre, as suggested by some developers. The inspector noted that the smaller villages which wanted to be a Local Service Centre [Wynbury and Rode Heath] with a similar range of services to Goostrey will be considered for additional housing in the Site Allocations document but won’t be made Local Service Centres.
He comments on CE’s statement that some areas have already met their allocation [presumably he is referring to Holmes Chapel and Chelford here] and he indicates that this should be reviewed in order that these settlements would provide sufficient housing to meet their needs. As Goostrey is linked with Holmes Chapel in the Local Plan, it could be assumed then that further Site Allocations may be required in Holmes Chapel and Chelford to meet the revised plan requirements. The inspector recommends that further development of the smaller villages should be considered at the Site Allocation stage but these are likely to only accommodate limited development.
In terms of the Greenbelt the inspector is concerned that not enough evidence has been provided to justify the release of some areas of greenbelt over other areas, commenting that the key driving factor seeming to be the ownership of the land. It is presumed that this is referring to the building on greenbelt within Handforth on Cheshire East owned land.
The Inspector recommends the following options for Cheshire East :-
- Continue based on the current evidence; but the plan may fail and be subject to legal challenge.
- Suspend the examination so that additional evidence and consultations on the release of additional land can be undertaken. However he states that any suspension should not be longer than 6 months.
- CE should withdraw the Local Plan if further time is required to gather evidence and undertake consultations for release of additional land.
This means that for the current planning applications in Cheshire East, the ‘Presumption in favour of sustainable development’ will apply. Which will mean the planning applications will receive planning permission where they are considered ‘sustainable’ and don’t result in excessive harm. ‘Sustainable’ development tends to mean sites that are located within or adjacent to existing settlements and services, therefore most if not all sites in Cheshire East would meet the definition.
Read Cheshire East Council’s response… “The Council has agreed to pause the examination to allow further work to be undertaken to address the inspector’s concerns, which is likely to be completed within six months. “