Appeal for 6 houses in Goostrey

At the same time as an application for just one house behind the two nearing completion by 51 Main Road (opposite Mt Pleasant park) developers Henderson Homes (through planning consultants Emery Partnership) are appealing the decision to refuse 6 houses on the site.  The refusal was “because it would impair the efficiency of the Jodrell Bank Telescope”.

Sept 2016: 16/4306C refused

Sept 2016: 16/4306C refused

Link to the appellant’s Statement of Case.  Statements and Interested Parties comments for the ‘informal hearing‘ are due by 3rd April 2017.

In Oct 2016 JBO opposed the application for 6 houses on the site, “In the case of the proposal 16/4306C , we oppose this development. Our view is that the impact from the additional potential contribution to the existing level of interference coming from that direction will be relatively minor. This is a general direction in which there is already significant development close to the telescope. We note that this application is one of a series that Emery Planning Partnership has made for this site….”

15/3131C  for 7 dwellings: JBO opposed and was refused Oct 2015.

15/5517C  for 2 dwellings: JBO opposed but was approved Feb 2016.

16/4306C for 6 dwellings: JBO opposed and was refused Oct 2016.

17/0680N, for 1 dwelling: JBO opposing 23/2/17.

“Jodrell Bank Observatory now opposes development across a significant part of the consultation zone as a matter of principle, in order to protect the efficiency of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope’s ability to receive radio emissions from space with a minimum of interference from electrical equipment.”

Appeal ref: 3166025   An informal hearing takes the form of a round-the-table discussion that will be led by the planning inspector. It is intended to be an informal process and allows for all parties to respond to any questions that the inspector might have, and to let everyone make their case known.

Third parties, such as local residents, councillors and amenity groups may also attend and take part in the discussion.

The majority of hearings will take no longer than a day and usually conclude with a site visit.  Sometimes, more complex proposals may take several days to discuss.  A written decision is usually made several weeks after the hearing.  Planning Portal.

.13/4266C  for 3 dwellings: JBO did not oppose but required screening measures. Aug 2014

Gladman’s appeal for Shear Brook dismissed!

“Jodrell Bank Observatory as an established world class facility should be afforded reasonable protection……the protection of Jodrell Bank Observatory as a facility of international importance transcends the housing land supply circumstances of the case.”

“…the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s conclusion that even against Dr Trotta’s scenario, it has been reasonably demonstrated or ‘shown’ that the appeal development would impair the efficiency of the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope such that it would conflict with Policy PS10 (IR268 and 271). The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that Jodrell Bank Observatory as an established world class facility should be afforded reasonable protection (IR270), and considers that this proposal could damage the world class work being carried out by the Observatory (IR308). In his view the harm to the efficiency of the Radio Telescope carries substantial weight against the proposal.”

re Swanwick Hall  “…agrees with the Inspector that it would very substantially reduce the gap between the Hall and the village, significantly diminishing the current open undeveloped character of the area….this would significantly affect the setting of Swanwick Hall, causing harm to the significance of the listed building that would lie within the middle to higher end of the less than substantial harm spectrum……. The Secretary of State, in accordance with the s.66 duty, attributes considerable weight to this harm.”

“…agrees that the protection of Jodrell Bank Observatory as a facility of international importance transcends the housing land supply circumstances of the case. The Secretary of State therefore attaches considerable weight to Policy PS10.”

“….the Secretary of State considers that the Council’s housing land supply shortfall – while significant and set in a national planning policy context – is largely a local issue, while Jodrell Bank Observatory is a facility of international importance such that its protection from the identified harm transcends the current housing land supply circumstances. He considers that the harm to the efficiency of the Radio Telescope carries substantial weight against the proposal.”

Formal decision:

The Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, agreed with the Inspector’s recommendation and dismissed the appeal, refusing outline planning permission “for residential development comprising of up to 119 dwellings (including a minimum of 30% affordable housing), structural planting and landscaping, informal open space, surface water attenuation, a vehicular access point from Main Road and associated ancillary works, at land off Main Road, Goostrey, Cheshire, CW4 8LH, in accordance with application ref: 14/5579C, dated 28 November 2014.”

Woop woop!  

[click the link to read the Inspectors recommendation and Sec of State’s decision:   Decision/Outcome 24th Nov 2016]

NB The validity of the Secretary of State’s decision may be challenged, by making an application to the High Court within 6 weeks from today (25 Nov 2016) for leave to bring a statutory review under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Neighbourhood Plans can carry significant weight

Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, recently supported a West Sussex Neighbourhood Plan even though Arun District Authority doesn’t have a 5 year housing supply.  Javid overruled an inspector to support Yapton’s Neighbourhood Plan and block 100 homes; showing it is possible that robust NP policies can carry significant weight and overcome the lack of a 5yr supply.

Javid disagreed with Inspector David Nicholson on a number of points – the NP’s ‘built-up-area-boundary policy’  and their housing policy committing Yapton to making “additional allocations” for housing if Arun’s local plan requires them – which he said should be given “substantial weight”. He said the latter policy gave Yapton “flexibility to allow a shortfall in housing to be met”.

The communities secretary also blocked plans last month for up to 100 homes at a site in Herefordshire;  concluding that the proposed Gladman development in Bartestree would be contrary to an emerging neighbourhood plan – once again despite the local authority not having a five-year housing land supply.

So whether it is seen as inconsistency or mere flexibility no two cases seem to be exactly the same; Javid told the Conservative party conference last month that they will take “unprecedented steps’ to deliver more homes but the government is also committed to neighbourhood planning.

The decision over Gladman’s appeal for 119 homes at ShearBrook is scheduled for the end of November.

Gladman win Brereton/Holmes Chapel appeal

Planning permission has been granted at appeal for 190 homes in Brereton on the Holmes Chapel border; the emerging CEC Local Plan and Brereton’s Neighbourhood Plan being afforded only limited weight.

The Secretary of State concluded “that the sustainability of the appeal scheme along with the fact that the relevant policies for the supply of housing land in Cheshire East are out of date outweigh the fact that the NP [Neighbourhood Plan] has only relatively recently been made and the limited landscape and visual harm, and that the adverse impacts of the scheme do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits when assessed against the policies of the Framework taken as a whole.”

“It is clear that the Brereton community has put a considerable effort into preparing the NP, and it is appreciated that it would be frustrating for one of the key policies to be accorded reduced weight due to the lack of a five year housing land supply in the District – a matter over which the Parish has no control. But there is a significant national housing shortage and, if the LP [Local Plan] were delivering what national policy requires, the planning balance would have been different.”

read more: The Sec of State’s Decision

Planning Inspector’s ShearBrook report

The Planning Inspector for the Gladman inquiry back in May (for 119 houses by Shear Brook) has now completed his report and sent it on to the Secretary of State at the DCLG, Sajid Javid MP, for his determination.

However the Inspector’s report is not published yet, and won’t be until the decision by Sajid Javid is made: the date given for the determination is “on or before” 24th November 2016 ( but there is always the possibility that it might get delayed/postponed).

Gladman’s Shear Brook inquiry: day 5 Part 2

Closing statements.

The first to speak was Mr Christopher Katkowski QC on behalf of Cheshire East.

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Professor Garrington with Mr Katkowski QC

The first three paragraphs of his statement in full:

“This is a test case for the Secretary of State as it is the first in decades to fall to be determined by Central Government where the key issue is protecting the integrity of the Lovell Radio Telescope, and with it radio astronomy at Jodrell Bank.  As stressed repeatedly and it is common ground, the Lovell Radio Telescope is of international importance and protecting it and the work of the Observatory from harm is of global significance.”

“The Government has worked extremely hard to bring the global HQ of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) to Jodrell Bank; the SKA decided to have its HQ at Jodrell Bank because it is a world-class, operational observatory.   “a key factor being that the [radio frequency interference] environment remains as benign as possible” (SKA Director-General).   Allowing 119 homes to be built close to the Observatory, in the direction (to the south west of the Observatory) where the Lovell Telescope is deployed for much the time conducting its most internationally significant work (pulsar timing measurements) in circumstances where it is agreed that the internationally accepted definition of the threshold above which interference would be detrimental to radio astronomy would be exceeded to a very large extent by emissions from the proposed development, would run the clear and present risk of undermining the confidence of the SKA in its desire to be associated with Jodrell Bank. The point is not (as put by the Inspector) whether the work of the SKA’s HQ would be directly impinged upon by interference from the development – it would not. Rather the point is one of esteem, of pride through association, if the Government does not protect the host – Jodrell Bank – from avoidable harm to its work, then what message does that send to the SKA about the continuing wisdom of its decision to have its HQ at Jodrell Bank? The question answers itself but in the words of the SKA’s Director-General this “may well have a negative impact on the view of the UK as an international partner to projects such as the SKA.”

“The point about avoidable harm is an important one. There is nothing practicable that the Government or the Observatory can do to reduce the relentless increase in devices used by existing residents near to Jodrell Bank e.g. in Goostrey, or in the wider Consultation Zone around Jodrell Bank, which already, and will increasingly in the future, cause very real problems for the efficacy of the Lovell Telescope.  BUT the Government does have the ability to stop new development adding to these problems; this can be achieved by the simple step of refusing planning permission e.g. for the appeal proposals which undoubtedly would amount to a very real additional threat to the globally significant work carried out at the Observatory.”

Mr Katkowski then became more technical, quoting policies and law and the NPPF and how these should be used in this case.

The protection of Swanwick Hall, a Grade II listed building was also a significant part of CEC’s defence in this appeal. Again using technicalities of law and quotes obtained from Gladman’s planner under cross examination Mr Katkowski showed that this alone should cause the appeal to be dismissed “come what may”.

The point that Cheshire East does not have a five year housing supply was not ignored, but he argued that the proposed development would only be a miniscule part of the solution to this problem and was not worthy of the harm that it would cause.

Then came the Parish Council’s barrister Mr John Hunter. 

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John Hunter; GPC’s barrister

He presented similar arguments regarding Jodrell Bank but also explored the concern of precedent. “Whilst a concern about precedent was dismissed by the Twemlow Inspector, the fact that the decision is being relied on by the Appellant in this appeal is one of the ironies of the case.”

Similarly the matter of harm to the setting of Swanwick Hall was covered with an accusation of Gladman’s heritage evidence defying common sense. “The building is a farmhouse. It reads as such and, it its current open and still relatively isolated setting, allows one to appreciate the aforementioned historic associations with the surrounding field and the area.  By contrast, when this part of its original setting is lost, those connections and even the building’s basic character as a historic farmhouse will be much harder appreciate.”   The Parish Council heritage case however also included protection of the unlisted Heritage Asset Holly Bank Farm and the historic hedgerows which can been seen from Main Road.

Cheshire East were only allowed to defend the appeal on the reasons which were given at the original Planning Committee hearing.  The Parish Council however had no such constraints, so John Hunter went on to speak about the significant impact on the views of Jodrell Bank and Swanwick Hall from Footpath 12.

But most significantly he was able to challenge the assertion that Goostrey is a sustainable location. “Therefore … even taking account of its rural context, the development would not:

* Be accessible for the local services required to support its needs and health, social and cultural well-being.
*Provide a “real choice” of sustainable modes of transport – on the contrary, it would inevitably depend predominantly on car use.
*Be located where the need to travel is minimised and the use of sustainable modes of transport can be maximised.”

A brief excursion into the loss of Best and Most Versatile agricultural land lead the remainder of his statement into technicalities of Planning law.

Finally Mr Richard Kimblin QC gave his statement on behalf Gladman Developments Ltd.

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Richard Kimblin QC for Gladman with Dr Trotta

Unusually he preceded his statement by thanking the Parish Council for the way in which they had conducted themselves.  (We are not sure what he was fearing they might get up to, or indeed what other Parish Councils do, but his kind words were appreciated.)

“A tenacious presumption in favour of the grant of Planning Permission”.  This is a phrase which comes from a recent High Court Judgement and was applied to sites which sit in areas where there is no proven housing land supply.  Mr Kimblin stressed that this should apply to this appeal and pointed out that development of this site would help to avoid the social ills which come with under provision of housing and give many economic benefits by supporting the construction industry.   All “without effect upon ecology, biodiversity, the creation of a flood risk or any other material environmental effect. … Moreover, the above benefits would be achieved in a sustainable location.”

“The Councils, and particularly the District Council, are to be congratulated for the ingenuity and imagination which has been directed to their cases. Those cases are replete with novel, imaginative and bold points.”

He then went through many technical points of interpretation of law pointing out the fallacies in the Councils’ logic.

The much quoted policy PS10 was considered yet again. “Within the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope Consultation Zone … development will not be permitted which can be shown to impair the efficiency of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope.”  This might seem straight forward, but since there is already harm being done to Jodrell Bank by radio interference how much additional interference constitutes harm?

Mr Kimblin accused the three parties of using the Jodrell Bank issue for their own purposes.
“JBO is focused on one issue – observing and learning about space.  It is not required to consider the effects of its preferred environment on the wider social, economic and simply basic needs of society.”
“Cheshire East lacks enthusiasm for residential development” – as demonstrated by its lack of housing land supply, an underestimation of need for housing in the preparation of the Local Plan, and strong track record of challenging decisions which inhibit its scope to refuse planning permission.
“As for the Parish Council, it and many people who spoke at the Inquiry object on any and all grounds to residential development in Goostrey.”

The Parish Council were also criticised for presenting all kinds of planning materials to the inquiry but not calling experts to be cross examined on these, whilst enjoying the luxury of cross examining Gladman’s witnesses. (Cllr Ken Morris might not have wholeheartedly agreed with this after undergoing Mr Kimblin’s cross examination!)

Swanwick Hall concerns were dismissed; partly because it was already close to the edge of Goostrey settlement but also because the main heritage interest are the hidden 17th century timbers.

So what happens now?  The inquiry is complete. The Inspector will write a report summarising the arguments and making his recommendation. He does not have a deadline in which to do this, but hopes to finish it within five weeks. We don’t get to see this – it is sent straight to the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for a decision.  Mr Katkowski explained that the Secretary might take two months… or two years.  The Inspector said “it will take a long time”.    We will keep you posted!

(link to the morning session of Day 5)

Gladman’s Shear Brook inquiry: day 5 last day. Part 1

The Inspector returned to Cheshire early on Monday and took a walk around Goostrey (his second) looking at the areas which had been discussed. He, with a representative from each party, then had a tour of Jodrell Bank Observatory, hearing how it had developed from Sir Bernard Lovell’s first dreams, before going up the Lovell Telescope and setting foot on the dish.

Day 5 (Tuesday) started with Goostrey resident, Roger Dyke, who had been on holiday last week so unable to speak at the beginning with other residents.  He spoke in two capacities, first as Leader of the Goostrey Footpath Group. Footpath 12, he explained, runs alongside the proposed development site. It has a number of unique features in that at least part of it is fully accessible and it is the only rural footpath which links the two halves of the village. He pointed out that it is used by many Goostrey folk, in particular dog owners, but it is also well known to the Ramblers’ Association and appears in a number of walking books. The proposed development would block the view of the Lovell Telescope and housing would completely destroy the open rural feel.

He then spoke wearing the hat of a retired electronic engineer and licensed radio amateur. Having commended to the inquiry Professor Garrington’s rebuttal to Dr Trotta’s evidence he became the first witness to use visual aids and props.  He held the inquiry’s attention as he explained how houses will leak radio waves as holes are cut into the foil backed plasterboard to insert the wiring for the ring main. When appliances and gadgets are plugged into this the wiring conducts the radio interference out of the house and radiates it to the telescope. Gladmans, having stressed the great age of the average Goostrey resident, had earlier implied that the new development would attract younger residents. Roger took this argument and shot it back at them saying that younger people typically have more gadgets so would create more interference. His demonstration concluded with a dismantled LED bulb. These are great for saving greenhouse gasses, which is why they will be used in any new development, but most are made in the far east under price pressure and emit illegal levels of radio interference.

The second part of the morning was devoted to agreeing conditions which would apply to any development on the site, if permission is granted.  All very necessary but somewhat pedestrian. S106 payments were also covered, everything going through on the nod with the exception of CEC’s request for money for Goostrey Community School and Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School.  CEC’s case was that both these schools are full so they need money to cater for the children who would come from the proposed development. Gladman’s expert responded with the fact that they are only full because people travel from out of the catchment area and, indeed, out of the county to attend these schools.  CEC batted back that this was parent choice etc.  If the appeal fails we will not have to be concerned with such niceties.

However, that afternoon was the long awaited highlight of the inquiry:  the advocates’ closing submissions….(link to Day 5 part two)

(part one of two)