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.

More ‘park’ homes applied for on Mount Pleasant

Goostrey’s Mount Pleasant Residential Park (Tingdene Parks Ltd) has applied for the demolition of 60 & 60a Main Road and the garage blocks to redevelop the site with 9 new park homes.    Link to CEC planning page:  18/4510C   (last date for comments 17th October)

Although they could be seen as in line with general Neighbourhood Plan policies they would be in a general area where the Jodrell Bank Observatory has found dwellings unacceptable in the past (south of Mount Pleasant park as well as behind Fairway to the north):  GNP Policy SC2 ‘Developments will not be permitted which can be shown to impair the efficient operation of the radio telescopes.’

Unsurprisingly the Planning Statement states that “it is not anticipated that its impact will be significant. It is unlikely to amount to material harm.”  but JBO has yet to comment.

Goostrey Parish Council has objected however as it would conflict with Neighbourhood Plan policies.


Interference at the Grange

There’s just about a week left to comment on the proposal for 8 houses on the site of The Grange Livery’s stables and menage off Station Road.  Click the link to CEC planning portal: 18/4079C.   The last date for submitting comments is Weds 12th Sept.  

Most pertinently, if CEC approve the application it would open up other areas of Open Countryside around the village to developers, but the protection of Jodrell Bank has “global significance” and should therefore be the main consideration for Cheshire East.

If JBO object, which is most likely given the sites proximity to JBO, the proposal will be in breach of several policies: CEC’s SE14 and Goostrey’s SC2 [re JBO] as well as being in Open Countryside VDLC2, and not inside or immediately next to the village boundary HOU1.

Six homes were refused recently at 51 Main Rd, where the effect of the proposed development on the operation of the Jodrell Bank Observatory was one of the main issues;  Six houses on the Livery site would cause more impairment as it is nearer to JBO – so these 8 proposed homes would therefore cause even greater interference.

The report on potential interference is lacking detail in what ‘power-tools’ were in use on the day of testing in June, or indeed how many.  The electromagnetic Field Measurement Report does mention grass-cutting – but, as you can see from the pictures below, there would be more grass (8 lawns) to cut and strim etc if 8 houses were to replace a menage, hard-standing and stables.  They could produce more interference/impairment than if 10 or 30 horses were at livery, contrary to the findings of the report…as would all the modern paraphernalia for 8 families, with all sorts of household electronic devices operating on a daily basis from computers and satellite tv to lighting and house alarms.

It would be a sad loss to lose such a resource on the outskirts of the village as livery places are, I’m told, in short supply in the area. Could there also be a loss of jobs for those that help with the livery when required and teach on the menage. Click the link to comment on CEC planning portal: 18/4079C.   The last date for submitting comments is Weds 12th Sept.  

Back in 2015 the then science minister, Greg Clark, said: “Cheshire East council must ensure that, in line with protections set out in the national planning policy framework, any new housing developments do not adversely impact on the important scientific mission of Jodrell Bank.”

CEC’s draft Site Allocations for Goostrey

The Site Allocations and Development Policies Document (SADPD) is part two of the Local Plan and identifies additional sites for development throughout Cheshire East.  It will be presented to the Strategic Planning Board at the end of August – followed by a six week public consultation from 11th Sept.  The revised version will have a second public consultation then goes to an Inspector for approval (probably) in 2019.  The housing figure for Goostrey is low due to its location in one of the most sensitive areas for radio interference for the Jodrell Bank Observatory.”

A Settlement Report  on Goostrey supports the overall are some extracted relevant points:    “…it is recommended that no sites should be allocated in the SADPD for development in Goostrey.”

2.1 Goostrey is a village with its own settlement boundary, set in the Open Countryside, as defined on the Proposals Map of the Congleton Borough Local Plan First Review, adopted in 2005. It is identified as a Local Service Centre (“LSC”) in the adopted Local Plan Strategy (“LPS”), and has a 2016 mid-year population estimate of 3,800 people.  [LG: yes we disagree with it being an LSC and all know that Goostrey village does not have 3800 residents !]

2.1 The focus for Goostrey over the LPS period is that of limiting any further impact, exacerbated by development, on the globally important work being carried out Jodrell Bank Observatory. It is also anticipated that Goostrey’s development needs will be largely provided for in Holmes Chapel (LPS ¶8.34).

Settlement Report Aug 2018.png

3.7  There were 8 housing completions (net) in Goostrey between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2017, and 0.00ha employment land take up. Commitments as at 31 March 2017 were 8 dwellings and 0.00ha of employment land.  A planning permission for 38 dwellings, granted by Cheshire West and Chester Council, does not technically count towards Cheshire East’s figures, however, in a practical sense the proposed development will also be part of Goostrey, and therefore should not be ignored in the context of considering the village’s growth.

3.8  Taking into account existing completions/take up and commitments, this leaves a remaining requirement for the provision of 0 dwellings and 0.00ha of employment land over the remaining Plan period.

4.7  Goostrey has small centre with limited services. However, it has representation from all of the respective retail and service sectors, which provides a key resource to local residents. There is a vacant unit that reduces the vitality of the centre, given the small number of overall units. Although Goostrey has a lower level of retail and service units than expected in a LSC, it is recognised that the centre provides an important role in catering for the day to day needs of the local community and as such support its designation as a local centre (“LC”).

To read the whole report click here – Goostrey Settlement Report.

It is certainly interesting to see the Allocations throughout all the Local Service Centres:Draft SADPD 2.2.png


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.


Proposal for 8 houses at the Grange Livery

An application has been submitted for outline planning for 8 houses on the site of The Grange livery’s stables and menage off Station Road.

Link to application: 18/4079C

The last date for submitting comments is the 12th September.  The CEC planning page states that the decision is due by 9th October by ‘delegated authority’ rather than committee.

As the site is a mere 1.75 km of open countryside from the Lovell telescope, and given recent refusals and dismissed appeals in the village following JBO objections, it could be argued that going to Committee would be preferable.

[further details to follow]

Grange site for 8 houses



Blackden to celebrate NHS 70th

On July 5th 2018 the nation will celebrate 70 years of the NHS.  At Blackden, we are joining in this celebration by holding a unique event entitled ‘A Taste of our Own Medicine.’ In The Old Medicine House, we shall have the Johnson Family archive on display and hear the stories of the family’s medicine manufacture within the house on its original site, and how the arrival of the NHS changed everything. Visitors can wander the herb gardens and hear how the herbs were used in medicine.

For the fourth year running, Well Green Primary School Year 3 children recently attended our ‘Prehistory at Blackden’ workshop. The workshop provides the children with a day of rich experiences. As they approach the site on foot, they theoretically walk back through time, from present day to arriving in the garden in the Mesolithic period of 10,000 years ago. It is known, through gathered evidence, that people during this period occupied the land where The Blackden Trust now sits. During the day, the children learn about the three stages of prehistory. They see and handle some of the archaeological objects found on the site and have hands on experience of some prehistoric activities such as grinding grain and moulding clay pots. This workshop supports the National Curriculum for Year 3 and from next year, will be available to all Primary Schools.

During May, we ran three tours, including Stars and Stones, linked with Jodrell Bank. One visitor has since booked her parents on to a future tour in June, having greatly enjoyed her own experience of her morning spent at Blackden.

To find out more about this and other events see below or go to our website Bookings can be made on line. For all enquiries, including our workshops for schools, please email or telephone 01477 571445.

Thursday     21/6/2018

Wednesday 11/7/2018

Wednesday 22/8/2018

Wednesday 26/9/2018        

10.30 am – 4.30 pm


Stars and Stones – A Jodrell Bank and Blackden Trust Event


Stars and Stones is a new event offering a rare opportunity to explore The Blackden Trust and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre on the same day.


Booking essential via Jodrell Bank website  


Thursday      5/7/2018 2.00  – 4.00 pm A Taste of Our Own Medicine To celebrate 70 years of the NHS


Fee £10.00 to include refreshments
Saturday    23/6/2018

Saturday    21/7/2018

Wednesday      8/8/2018

Saturday    18/8/2018 

Wednesday   12/9/18

Saturday    22/9/2018    

2.00- 4.00 pm


Conducted Tour of The Old Medicine House and Garden


Fee £10.00 Early Bird and Group discounts available
Wednesday 19/9/2018   10.00- 3.30 pm


By Seven Firs and Goldenstone – A Walk Between Worlds


Walk the location of the Legend of Alderley guided by Archaeologist Dr Tim Campbell-Green and Alan Garner’s daughter Katharine Darby. After lunch enjoy a tour of the Old Medicine House. Fee £30.00 to include lunch.

Advance booking essential