Subterranean house refused near JBO after appeal

Updated Nov 2018.  The Appeal after the Jan2018 refusal has been dismissed for a subterranean house near Jodrell Bank Observatory in the garden of Coachman’s Cottage.  PLANNING INSPECTORATE REFERENCE: APP/R0660/W/18/3206533.

The main reason given was the potential harm to the efficiency of JBO; the Appeal Inspector also stated……

“I therefore conclude, on balance, that the proposed development would be in an unsuitable location, having regard to local and national policy. Although any harm to the character and appearance of the countryside would be limited by the subterranean design of the dwelling, it would conflict with Policy PG 6 of the CELP, which seeks to protect the open countryside by carefully restricting development outside any settlement with a defined settlement boundary. It would also conflict with Policy HOU1 of the Neighbourhood Plan. Given that the Council has a sufficient supply of housing, there is no justification for breaching the spatial strategies of the CELP or the Neighbourhood Plan”

Both JBO and Goostrey PC had objected. Two reasons were given for the initial refusal:  firstly it would be in ‘Open Countryside’ and secondly, even though partially subterranean, would impair the efficiency of JBO.  Cheshire East’s Local Plan policies and Goostrey’s Neighbourhood Plan policies were quoted.   Link to the Officer’s Report:

The application is located in the open countryside where development is subject to stricter control and the policy focus is on preserving the openness, character and appearance of the countryside.  The application seeks permission for a new subterranean dwelling in the garden of Coachman’s Cottage. Policy PG 6 of the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy 2017 (CELP) defines open countryside as the area outside of any settlement with a defined settlement boundary.  Within the Open Countryside only development that is essential for the purposes of agriculture, forestry, outdoor recreation, public infrastructure, essential works undertaken by public service authorities or statutory undertakers, or for other uses appropriate to a rural area will be permitted.  The policy allow several exceptions for new dwellings including where there is an opportunity for limited infilling, re-use of existing buildings and replacement buildings. Infilling is allowed in villages and ‘the infill of a small gap with one or two dwellings in an otherwise built up frontage elsewhere’.  The CELP defines infilling as ‘the development of a relatively small gap between existing buildings’.  The site could not reasonably be described as an infill plot, it does not have a built up frontage and is not located between two or more existing buildings but rather is adjacent to woodland and agricultural fields.  The proposal would not re-use an existing building and is not a replacement building.  As such it does not comply with any of the exceptions which allow new buildings.  New buildings are not permitted within the open countryside and therefore the principle of the development is not acceptable.

Precautionary approach to development in JBO zone justified

A report on recent Appeals at CEC was presented to the Southern Planning Committee earlier this month by CEC’s Head of Planning Regulations to provide ‘information that should help measure and improve the Council’s quality of decision making in respect of planning applications’.

‘..electro-magnetic interference arising from small scale developments can and does have a harmful impact on the workings of the Telescope and should be resisted to protect this important asset.’

The report highlights the recent Appeal for 6 houses in Goostrey that was dismissed – due to the ‘significant weight’ given to the impact on the Lovell and work of JBO – recognised to be of ‘global importance’.  Developers take note!

The Lovell radio telescope

As this is relevant to current/future applications in the Goostrey area, as part of the JBO Consultation Zone, I will reproduce the particular section in full:

5.5  Application ref. 16/4306C was subject to an appeal decision on 18 January 2018 following an Inquiry in October 2017. The proposal was for a small scale housing development of 6 dwellings on a site adjacent to the settlement boundary of Goostrey. The key issue for this appeal was the impact on the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope. The appeal was dismissed due to the impact on the telescope as a result of cumulative exceedances in the levels of interference for radio astronomy. Significant weight was attached to the impact on the research facility, recognised of global importance.

5.6  This decision follows earlier appeal decisions that have been dismissed for larger developments where the Council has sought to uphold local plan policies for the protection of Jodrell Bank Observatory. In the light of those decisions, the local planning authority has been applying significant weight to the cumulative impacts on Jodrell Bank, even when individually the impacts have been relatively minor. This decision confirms that electro-magnetic interference arising from small scale developments can and does have a harmful impact on the workings of the Telescope and should be resisted to protect this important asset. The decision emphasises some of the complexities of assessing the individual impacts beyond purely the scale of the development, with location, proximity and orientation just some of the determinative factors.

5.7  The decision recognises that there has been a degree of inconsistency through both LPA decision and Appeal Decisions in relation to small scale developments in the Jodrell Bank Observatory consultation zone. In large part this has arisen from the nature of consultation responses that the Council now receives which are now worded to demonstrate the harmful impact of small scale and cumulative developments.

5.8 Whilst it should be recognised that there may be an opportunity to improve consistency through policy and working with Jodrell Bank on the wording of consultation responses, this Appeal Decision emphasises and justifies a precautionary approach to any new housing development in the Jodrell Bank consultation zone.

The report recommends that members of the committee note the contents to ‘learn from outcomes and to continue to improve the Council’s quality of decision making on planning applications.’

To read the report click the link: Appeals Review Southern Planning Committee August 2018.


Appeal for 6 houses in the middle of Goostrey dismissed

The Appeal by Henderson Homes for an additional 6 houses behind the two new-builds on Main Road, adjacent to 51 Main Road, has been dismissed by the Planning Inspector.  In short, the Inspector deemed the proposal for 6 houses acceptable in design and location but she gave more weight to the policies in the Local Plan and Goostrey’s N’hood Plan that protect the efficiency of Jodrell Bank.

Link to Appeal decision in full:   Appeals page ref 3166025 .

Link to planning application that was originally refused: 16/4306C .  However there are two other planning applications to be decided by Cheshire East – for 1 to 3 houses on the original footprint: 17/0680c and 17/4451c.

6 houses to the rear refused at Appeal

  1. The appeal proposal would provide 6 new homes on a site which I consider, subject to the imposition of conditions, to be acceptable in design terms and would be appropriately located in relation to transport links and proximity to the village and its services. As such, I have accorded this moderate weight in favour of the development. I have also attached moderate weight to the benefits to be derived from the construction of modest developments by local builders through the provision of small sites, and limited weight to affordable housing provision. However, I have found, on the basis of the uncontested evidence of Professor Garrington, that the proposed development would breach saved Policy PS10 of the LP, Policy SE 14 of the CELP and Policy SC2 of the NP which require that where the efficiency of the telescopes are impaired that development will not be permitted. From the evidence before me, including consideration of the global significance of Jodrell Bank as a scientific research resource, I accord this breach of policy significant weight.
  2. Moreover, the proposed development would also be contrary to Policy HOU1 of the NP. This supports new housing in principle within and adjacent to the settlement boundary of Goostrey, where it does not individually or cumulatively harm the operation of the JBRTs. Similarly, from the evidence before me I accord this breach significant weight. I must also take into account paragraph 198 of the Framework which states where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permissions should not normally be granted.  Extract from Appeal decision 18th Jan 2018

Awaiting decision of public inquiry on 6 homes 51/61 Main Rd

The Henderson Homes public inquiry on the refusal of 6 further homes on the paddock between 51/61 Main Road ended yesterday with Closing Statements from the three parties.

16/4306 application for 6 dwellings

The hearing, held in Congleton Town Hall, had been adjourned since October having taken longer than anticipated, but it will still be some weeks yet until we hear of the Inspector’s final decision.

In short…and not all inclusive….

Cheshire East Council

Scott Lyness, barrister for Cheshire East, outlined the international importance of the Jodrell Bank Observatory – the 3rd largest steerable telescope on the planet, “recognised by the international scientific community as one of the world’s major radio astronomy facilities”.  He stated that its “globally important operations can only take place at the leading edge of science if their exceptional characteristics are protected” and pointed out that the six homes would be close to JBO in a direction that the Lovell is often pointed to to conduct its “internationally significant pulsar work” and are clearly in breach of JBO policies as well as Goostrey’s Neighbourhood Plan.

Mr Lyness pointed out that the proposed dwellings would cause the quality of data to take a “significant step downwards”, as detailed in Professor Garrington’s evidence of harm – which was unchallenged throughout the inquiry – and would produce a “hotspot” of interference.  He also described the expression ‘relatively minor’ used in planning objections; explaining that a relatively minor numerical change “in no way means that the impact…on the work of JBO would be minor”; Professor Garrington acknowledged that the term does not fully reflect JBO’s concern. (for instance, in pulsar timing measurements, small increases in interference can have a much larger non-linear effect on the quality of the data).

JBO’s Prof. Garrington (L) and CEC barrister Scott Lyness (R)

Mr Lyness also explained that the 39 new houses [Blackberry Gardens] will “in practice be part of Goostrey and contribute to its sustainability and viability”.

Goostrey Parish Council

Goostrey PC summed up their position; that the proposal breaches several N’hood Plan policies covering JBO and density. The PC referred to all parties at the Inquiry being in agreement that the proposal will impair the efficiency of the telescope and the NP’s policy is very clear – “There is no leeway, no ‘unless’ , no latitude”.

The appellant (Henderson Homes) proposes to use mitigation measures however the PC pointed out that mitigation had already been taken into account in Prof. Garrington’s calculations – resulting in the ITU threshold being exceeded by a factor of 100.  The Professor had “told the inquiry that even small increases in interference will have larger and larger effects as radio astronomers make more and more sensitive observations. In that scenario it is easy to see why an exceedance factor of 100 is so significant.”

Goostrey’s unique position as an LSC was also pointed out, the CELPS stating ‘In the case of Goostrey’…’it is anticipated that development needs will largely be provided for in Holmes Chapel’.  In addition to the new 39 dwellings [Blackberry Gardens] the PC pointed to the fact that many existing houses will become available during the life of the Plan, so “these 6 appeal houses therefore cannot be regarded as needed for Goostrey to retain its vitality.”

The PC also highlighted that the outcome of this appeal is being “eagerly awaited by small landowners and developers” – “allowing this appeal could open the flood gates”; a member of the public had in fact supported the appeal saying they would re-apply if the appeal is successful.  Others may similarly re-apply, as well as other propositions that the PC are aware of but are not yet formal applications “in the knowledge that the developments could potentially harm the JBO telescopes.”

Henderson Homes:

Barrister John Hunter for Henderson Homes then gave their closing statement: covering the ins and outs of Goostrey being a Local Service Centre and the “residual requirement for at least” 27 homes,  problems with affordability for younger households, the “disproportionate number of elderly residents” and its “consequential impacts on the vitality of the settlement” [..non taken! LG] . 

The Lovell

Mr Hunter opined that the 6 homes would “assist significantly in helping achieve the housing requirement” of the local area and the district as a whole, and the inclusion of 2 affordable homes should carry “significant weight”.  He said there was “no dispute” that JBO should be afforded “reasonable protection” and no dispute that the “modest additional interference” of the proposed scheme would give rise to some impairment. “However, that does not mean that any level of impairment is necessarily unacceptable”, he added.  Mr Hunter pointed to the JBO response to the initial consultation of “relatively minor” which should therefore only be given ‘moderate’ weight in the decision balance.

Mr Hunter also commented on the wording in Goostrey’s NP Policy HOU1 [“and should not individually or cumulatively harm the operation of the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescopes“] saying the “word ‘should’ does not always mean the same as ‘must’.

Goostrey Neighbourhood Plan

17/4451:  Current application for 1 detached and 2 semis on the appeal site.


Public inquiry resumes today

Henderson Homes’ public inquiry into the refusal of 6 homes next to 51 Main Road resumes at 10am this morning for Closing Statements.  The inquiry is being held in Congleton Town Hall and due to the length of time taken to present evidence etc it was adjourned until today.
Cheshire East’s barrister Scott Lyness has stated,” What the appellant fails to recognise is the importance of Jodrell Bank policies and the weight which should be accorded to them”.

(click here to read Closing Statements) 

It will be some time yet tho until the Inspector determines the outcome.

Henderson Appeal in Sandbach Chronicle “no cogent case”

The following article appears in this weeks Sandbach Chronicle following the public inquiry into the refusal of 6 homes next to 51 Main Road.  The inquiry was held in Congleton Town Hall last week and due to the length of time taken to present evidence etc it has been adjourned until Nov 28th.

Congleton town hall

The Lovell radio telescope

The article states that barrister John Hunter, on behalf of the developer, said that “there is an acceptance that the new development will result in additional interference that would inevitably result in conflict with the Jodrell Bank policies”.

Cheshire East’s barrister Scott Lyness stated,” What the appellant fails to recognise is the importance of Jodrell Bank policies and the weight which should be accorded to them”.

Councillor Dr Ken Morris, representing Goostrey PC, said it conflicted with the Neighbourhood Plan and Jodrell Bank policies.  (Dr Morris is not however Chairman of GPC as stated in the article)

Appeal for 6 homes in Goostrey adjourned

October Appeal for 6 houses by 51 Main Rd

A year ago an application was refused for six houses in Goostrey on the land next to 51 Main Road, behind the two recently erected homes.  The developer is now appealing this decision at a Public Inquiry next month when Henderson Homes will be opposing the objections from Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire East and Goostrey Parish Council.

The public are welcome to attend the Inquiry which runs on October 10th, 11th and 12th October at Congleton Town Hall.

JBO’s Professor Garrington states in his submission ‘Allowing this scheme would create an ever-worsening baseline of interference against which it would be difficult to control future development which also breached the international threshold.’

Henderson Homes Appeal 51 Main Rd

Goostrey Parish Council’s submission can be read here.  

Various applications have been made recently on this site.