Gladman’s Shear Brook inquiry: day four

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.

Cllr Ken Morris with barrister John Hunter and Christopher Katkowski QC
Cllr Ken Morris with barrister John Hunter and Christopher Katkowski QC

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.

Planning Inspector Gareth Jones surrounded by files
Planning Inspector Gareth Jones surrounded by files

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)

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  1. Reply

    Yes the definition of ‘impairment’ is the key, impairment is ‘the state of being diminished, weakened, or damaged,’.

    However the definition of ‘efficiency’ is also important , this is the ‘ accomplishment of, or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort’

    From the evidence presented by Prof Garrington and Dr Trotta, existing development in Goostrey is already ‘imparing’ the ‘efficency’ of research that they can undertake. More development will only make this worse. ‘Impairment’ doesn’t mean ‘close’ or ‘shutdown’, or stop all research or put people out of a job! The word ‘significantly’ is also not included in the policy, therefore any impairment or reduction in efficiency which affects the telescope is dealt with by the policy.

  2. Reply

    No mention, as far as I can tell, of affordable / social housing in the inquiry. I would like to know what price the so called affordable housing will be. I’m sure the current asking prices of recent or proposed houses around the village doesn’t really enter the “affordable” range for the majority of the country. I’m not sure the affordable one’s in Holmes Chapel did either, and certainly the ones at Twemlow Green were difficult to sell.
    I wonder how long it will be before we welcome the Town of Goostrey, City of Holmes Chapel, then become encapsulated in the Greater Cheshire Metropolitan Area with no open countryside, but maybe our own airport when Manchester can no longer cope.
    Time to head for the hills – well maybe not quite yet.
    A big note of thanks for the efforts of Ken and Catherine Morris. I can only guess at the amount of time they have put into this. It’s taken me long enough to read some of their research.
    Thanks also to this web site for keeping us all informed of the progress.
    No thanks whatsoever to Cheshire East Council for landing us and numerous other villages and towns in the area in this mess with their total failure in planning matters. Big heads should have rolled for that. I wonder how much this has all cost – and it is the residents who are paying through the council tax.
    Rant over.

    • Reply

      (You’re welcome, but thank you) Affordable housing did crop up during the inquiry. Gladman’s QC put it to Ken that there was a great need for affordable housing in Goostrey. Fortunately Ken was able to point out that Gladman’s own survey brought a response of only one such request. Boom.

      • Reply

        Indeed. Unfortunately you can’t stop urbanisation as a growing population needs to live somewhere, it was not that long ago that villages such as Didsbury were small quaint villages similar to Goostrey now. Affordability is also a misnomer, as currently there is such a disparity between house prices and salaries for all the housing stock available. Unless they create a massive oversupply of housing this will not change anytime soon. But how sustainable is this as a policy?

        However, this inquiry does highlight how inappropriate Goostrey is for large scale development due to the impact on Jodrell Bank, and therefore highlights Cheshire East’s mistake in making Goostrey a Local Service Centre. Fortunately for the efforts of our volunteers, Parish Council and of course LoveGoostrey, the village stood up as a whole and forced Cheshire East to rethink and we were successful in including the amendment to the Local Plan to confirm our development needs will largely be met by Holmes Chapel. Considering now with all the development proposals in Holmes Chapel which more than meet their need and our need combined, we can only hope that Cheshire East will now stand by their previous commitment that no site allocations are required for the village and let the village, through our neighbourhood plan team, decide if we do need any further development and, if we do, where it should go. Of course this will need the input of Jodrell Bank and which areas should be avoided, involving the new mapping they have produced.

        But we do need Cheshire East to be successful in getting the Local Plan ratified and hence confirm a ‘5 year housing supply’ is in place. Otherwise we could see more of these predatory applications and costly appeals in the not too distant future…

  3. Reply

    Belated sincere thanks and sincere appreciation to all involved in this Inquiry. Fingers crossed!

    p.s. Walking through the village the last few days, either from the Station to home or from home to The Trading Post, it’s almost as if it somehow “knows” the efforts made; the hedgerows, flowers, trees and lawns seem greener, more colourful and undeniably RURAL than ever. Indeed: “Goostrey Is Special”” would definitely be a great blazon for a new coat of arms (although not sure what the Latin equivalent would be!)

    • Reply

      Goostrey extraordinarius? And yes May is such a lovely month. Penelope Keith was on C4 earlier this evening talking about villages being “the heartbeat of rural life”.

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