Day four began with Gladman’s Heritage expert, Jason Clemons, in the firing line as he was cross examined first by Chris Katkowski [CEC’s QC] and then John Hunter [GPC’s barrister].
There were two main themes to this: the heritage value of Grade II listed building Swanwick Hall, this needed to be established before it was possible to decide if the heritage value would be harmed, and whether or not the proposed development would have a significant effect on the setting of the hall. Jason Clemons maintained that the rear of the houses in Swanwick Close and Sandy Lane already impinged so much that the proposed 119 houses would make little difference to the setting of the hall. Both advocates disagreed; pointing out that, as you look at the hall, the edge of the village is behind you and does not impinge on the experience, at least not to the same degree as the proposed development would. The Parish Council also introduced the unlisted heritage Holly Bank Farm, pointing out that its setting would also be affected.
The Parish Council’s John Hunter enthusiastically explored the differences between four different Heritage reports which had been presented to the inquiry, pointing out a three to one balance in favour of the Parish Council’s position.
The second witness to come forward on day four was Gladman’s planning expert, John Mackenzie. He presented a proof of evidence which showed Goostrey was in dire need of this new development. He pointed out Goostrey’s ageing population, excellent facilities, good transport links (no, seriously) and ability to help out with Cheshire East’s housing shortage (you must admit, Goostrians are a helpful crowd). Particularly in light of the later he recommended the Inspector approved the appeal.
In cross examination, KitKat (ahem, Mr Christopher Katkowski QC) took the discussion to, amongst other things, Jodrell Bank with a detailed examination of exactly what ‘impair efficiency’ means; this being a key phrase in Policy PS10 which seeks to give protection to JBO. This was followed by an exploration of how much impairment would be needed to be counted as impairment. A technical issue, but one which is potentially vital to the case.
There were other detailed discussions regarding technical planning matters, with much quoting of policies and High Court cases. One can only assume that the full significance will be revealed in Tuesday’s closing statements.
The Parish Council’s case that Goostrey is not a sustainable village was rigorously considered; the basis of their argument being that most future residents will make extensive use of cars for most journeys. This is of significance since new developments should be located so as to minimise unsustainable travel.
After a quick consideration about the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land the discussion returned to JBO. This time barrister John Hunter brought up the affect of cumulative damage to the observatory and the risk in an approval of this appeal setting a precedent for future applications.
Today’s inquiry session finally adjourned a little before 6.30pm with much banter about G & Ts.
Still to come: The Inspector’s site visits (private), 106 discussions and closing statements on Tuesday 24th (public). (link to Day 5 morning)