Eric Pickles approves destruction of farmland for 100 houses in Cheshire West.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has over-ruled a planning inspector’s rejection of 100 homes on top-quality farmland judged to be in conflict with the local plan, unsustainable in transport terms and prejudicial to development of a front-runner neighbourhood plan.
Mr Pickles rejected the inspector’s recommendation of refusal for Fox Strategic Land and Property‘s proposed development at Nantwich Road, Tarporley, which was also opposed by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
He judged that the Council lacks a five-year supply of housing land and its local plan is out-of-date and carrying little weight, so the so-called “presumption in favour of sustainable development” was engaged.
“Whilst he has found some drawbacks to the scheme, he has found that it would bring a number of significant benefits, some of which carry significant weight,” says the decision.
He accepted the scheme would destroy some of the best and most versatile farmland – the site is mostly Grade 2 – contrary to national planning policy, but rejected concerns about harm to the character and appearance of the area or its environmental quality.
On housing need, he accepted the evidence base from the regional strategy he had previously abolished and concluded environmental quality could be protected with a condition on site contouring.
“If adequate levels of development are to be catered for, now and in the future, the planned release of greenfield land appears inevitable,” it says.
Mr Pickles accepted conflict with policy on agricultural land and the local plan, but judged that sustainable development concerns other issues.
“He has… concluded that Cheshire West and Chester cannot demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land,” says the decision.
“In these circumstances he considers that housing land supply policies are out-of-date and paragraph 14 of the Framework is therefore engaged.”