Letter from Cheshire East Leader Cllr Michael Jones: November 2013
Please be assured that the comments that were made, relating to the classification of Goostrey as a Local Service Centre, have been taken into consideration, along with all other comments received, as work on the Core Strategy has progressed. The scale of objection to the classification of Goostrey as a Local Service Centre is recognised, however, the Core Strategy has to be prepared objectively and has to be based on relevant evidence.
I have discussed your concerns with officers in the Spatial Planning Team; they have advised me of the following –
The classification of Goostrey as a Local Service Centre has been made, following the completion of the ‘Settlement Hierarchy’ study which is available in the ‘Research and Evidence’ section of the Cheshire East website www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/localplan . The settlement hierarchy has provided a clear methodology which shows why this is the case. The arguments that have been made against this are not considered to contradict this work.
With regard to the population information that has been used in the study, this has been obtained from the ‘Lower Super Output’ area information and is considered to be the best fit for Goostrey which happens to include other, smaller, settlements. This is however the same approach that has been taken for other settlements and is considered to be the best that can be achieved, using recognised data sources. It should also be recognised that it is the level of services and facilities available that is the determining factor in categorising settlements, not the size of the population (although often there is a correlation between the two.) The ‘Settlement Hierarchy’ study stages (in stage 3) that one of the determining factors for the classification of a settlement as a Local Service Centre is ‘Settlements containing fewer than 2% of the total population and number of households in Cheshire East’.
It is accepted that Holmes Chapel is of a different character to Goostrey however it should be recognised that the villages that are classified as Local Service Centres do not all have exactly the same range of facilities; some have more services than others do however they are all considered to offer a range of services.
Goostrey does have a very good range of services. A recent survey of services in Goostrey, by an officer from the Spatial Planning Team, showed that there are a range of local services present, including a railway station, with services to Crewe and Manchester (and the stations in between); a bus service; two Pubs/restaurants; two places of worship; a pharmacy; Post Office; Primary School; a village hall; play area and a number of shops, including provision for the purchase of convenience goods. This is comparable with other settlements that have been included as Local Service Centres, such as Chelford, Haslington and Shavington however Goostrey has a railway station which Haslington and Shavington do not; it could therefore be argued that Goostrey has a better range of services than Haslington and Shavington.
With regard to the potential of residential development taking place within Goostrey, the Pre-Submission Core Strategy states (in Policy PG6) that Local Service Centres will be expected to accommodate in the order of 5 hectares of employment land and 2,500 new homes. The Pre-Submission Core Strategy does not however include any proposals for residential development to take place in Goostrey. Such proposals would be made through the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document which will be produced during 2014 and will undergo a full public consultation process. The scale of development proposed in a centre will meet local need and, to some extent, it will be linked to the facilities that the settlement in question has, regardless of classification.
Of the proposed figure for new homes, it should be noted that planning approvals have already been granted which will contribute towards that requirement. For example, at a recent committee, some 171 homes were given permission in Local Service Centres (Holmes Chapel & Bollington) – accordingly when all other sites are considered, the shortfall is actually quite modest. Officers in the Spatial Planning Team estimate that the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document would need to identify around 50 new homes (maybe 75 at the absolute outside) for the period up to 2030 in Goostrey. This could be phased to ensure a steady supply, if desired.
It should also be noted that the classification of Goostrey as a Local Service Centre could also bring positive benefits for the village, by protecting existing services and enabling the provision of improved facilities in the future. For example, if there was a proposal for a new community facility such as a youth centre or a proposal to close a public house, the classification of Goostrey as a Local Service Centre would mean that Cheshire East Council would support such a new facility and would oppose the closure of a public house.
Cllr Michael Jones
Leader, Cheshire East Council