Fiona Bruce

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Fiona Bruce spoke in parliament at length last night; mentioning neighbourhood planning in Goostrey, Brereton and Sandbach and, following recent inconsistencies in the planning process, she asked for clarification on the weight “to be given to made neighbourhood plans in the absence of a local plan, and also to provide increased weight to a draft plan because of the stage it has reached. “

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill was at its third reading before going to the Lords, the Planning Minister Gavin Barwell having “made it clear that from yesterday, where communities plan for housing in their area in a neighbourhood plan, those plans should not be deemed out of date unless there is a significant lack of land supply—that is, under three years. That applies to all plans for the next two years, and for the first two years of any plan that is put into place. That will give a degree of protection that has not been available. The message needs to go out clearly from this House that local authorities must get up-to-date plans in place to provide that protection for neighbourhood plans.”

Inspector explained

INSPECTOR’S COMMENTS ON LOCAL PLAN EXPLAINED

To try and help villagers understand the implication of the Inspector’s interim comments on the Local Plan, LoveGoostrey have provided the following summary :-

NUMBER OF HOUSES

The Inspector recommends that further work is undertaken to the Local Plan before it is submitted for ratification.  More work is recommended to confirm the number of houses required.  The Inspector believes 40,000 homes are required rather than CE’s assumption of  27,000 homes, ie approx. 30% more houses are required in the borough than currently allowed for in the Local Plan.  He feels that CE have been too pessimistic in the amount of houses that would be required compared with the potential jobs that could be generated as a result of the proposed development areas, and hence would restrict economic growth in the borough.

The Inspector’s main concerns relate to the limited development proposed for Handforth, Poynton, Knutsford and Wilmslow and recommends more land is released for houses in those areas to meet the likely demand.

SETTLEMENT HIERARCHY

The Inspector agrees with Cheshire East’s Settlement Hierarchy, so it looks like Goostrey will remain a Local Service Centre.  It also looks like Holmes Chapel will remain a Local Service Centre rather than a Key Service Centre, as suggested by some developers.  The inspector noted that  the smaller villages which wanted to be a Local Service Centre [Wynbury and Rode Heath] with a similar range of services to Goostrey will be considered for additional housing in the Site Allocations document but won’t be made Local Service Centres.

ALLOCATIONS

He comments on CE’s statement that some areas have already met their allocation [presumably he is referring to Holmes Chapel and Chelford here]  and he indicates that this should be reviewed in order that these settlements would provide sufficient housing to meet their needs.  As Goostrey is linked with Holmes Chapel in the Local Plan, it could be assumed then that further Site Allocations may be required in Holmes Chapel and Chelford to meet the revised plan requirements.  The inspector recommends that further development of the smaller villages should be considered at the Site Allocation stage but these are likely to only accommodate limited development.

GREENBELT

In terms of the Greenbelt the inspector is concerned that not enough evidence has been provided to justify the release of some areas of greenbelt over other areas, commenting that the key driving factor seeming to be the ownership of the land.  It is presumed that this is referring to the building on greenbelt within Handforth on Cheshire East owned land.

OPTIONS

The Inspector recommends the following options for Cheshire East :-

  1. Continue based on the current evidence; but the plan may fail and be subject to legal challenge.
  2. Suspend the examination so that additional evidence and consultations on the release of additional land can be undertaken. However he states that any suspension should not be longer than 6 months.
  3. CE should withdraw the Local Plan if further time is required to gather evidence and undertake consultations for release of additional land.

This means that for the current planning applications in Cheshire East, the ‘Presumption in favour of sustainable development’ will apply.  Which will mean the planning applications will receive planning permission where they are considered ‘sustainable’ and don’t result in excessive harm.  ‘Sustainable’ development tends to mean sites that are located within or adjacent to existing settlements and services, therefore most if not all sites in Cheshire East would meet the definition.

Read Cheshire East Council’s response… “The Council has agreed to pause the examination to allow further work to be undertaken to address the inspector’s concerns, which is likely to be completed within six months. “

Cheshire East at odds with Inspector

Although the Planning Inspector indicated in his decision on April 11th of the Elworth Hall (Sandbach) appeal that Cheshire East did not have a 5 year housing supply, Cheshire East state that events have moved on since the date of the appeal in January.  Presumably that means more developments have received planning since CE announced the 5 yr housing supply on Jan28th – but they will clarify the up to date position shortly after Easter. We will keep you posted.

Hermitage Lane development

Land to the east of Hermitage Lane: ref 14/0081C

The planning application [link above] for 26 houses is incorrectly listed as Cranage rather than Goostrey so it has only just been spotted, but any comments should be sent to Cheshire East by 5th Feb. (The CEC planning page wrongly states that ‘the last date for comments has expired’ – mistakenly printing 2013 instead of 2014.)

We hear a further application is scheduled behind Mount Pleasant from the Main Road side, see comment below.

Hermitage Lane application

Hermitage Lane application

New Consultation on Core Strategy

New consultation on Core Strategy for Local Plan

Cheshire East are re-consulting on a new draft Core Strategy and responses have to be submitted by 16th December 2013.  We have once again produced a guide to assist you.

Despite nearly 600 objections from Goostrey and despite the clear reasoned argument that Goostrey was incorrectly and unfairly assessed as a Local Service Centre, Goostrey is still identified as a Local Service Centre in the current Core Strategy.  Neither ourselves or Goostrey Parish Council have had any explanation from Cheshire East to explain why Cheshire East don’t agree with our comments and why they are ignoring Goostrey residents concerns.  This is clearly not in the spirit of the consultation or ‘localism’.

The current draft Core Strategy  has been substantially re-written following the previous consultation process early this year and has many good and improved points within it which should be commended.  It is important that we have a Local Plan in place that is defensible to restrict unwanted and unsustainable development within Cheshire East.
We have produced a guide to the consultation to assist you with your response, please see the ‘2nd Consultation’ page and ‘Suggested Responses Guide’ page.