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yesterday, where communities plan for housing in their area in a neighbourhood plan, those plans should not be deemed out of date unless there is a significant lack of land supply—that is, under three years.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’s remarks on CEC Local Plan hearings

Extract from the Inspector’s closing remarks after the CEC Local Plan Examination Hearings:

“Finally, I have to say that this has been the most complex and challenging Local Plan I have ever examined – and I have examined over 20 of these types of plans over the last 7 years or so. I have been fascinated by the wide range of views expressed in the representations and at the hearing sessions and recognise the genuinely held views of all participants. You will have to give me some time to consider all the issues involved, but I will do this as efficiently as I can.”   Stephen J Pratt – Inspector.  20 October 2016

(and don’t forget to read through the Goostrey Neighbourhood Plan pre-submission document and Village Design Statement !  follow the instructions if you want to make comments)

Inspector 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 :-


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 refused

Proposal off Netherlea/Hermitage Lane refused at the Northern Planning Committee yesterday.

Notice of decision

Although Cheshire East stated that the site was sustainable for rural housing the committee fortunately refused the application for 26 houses off Netherlea on the basis that the development would be in Open Countryside and Cheshire East now has a 5 year housing supply.  Other considerations were that Jodrell Bank had objected to an increase in housing in the village and that the proposal had an inadequate road layout.

It is worth repeating that the published Local Plan confirmed that the majority of Goostrey’s development needs are to be met by Holmes Chapel – therefore there is no need for more large housing estates in the village.  The parish council’s recent Site Allocation for the Grange site was not a material consideration and did not influence the outcome.

SPB vote to oppose development

November 19, 2013 CEC Press Release

Cheshire East Fights to Protect Countryside

Cheshire East Council has vowed to fight two key planning applications in Congleton in order to protect the character of the Cheshire countryside

The decision was made following Friday’s strategic planning board meeting in which members voted in favour of opposing development on grounds that it would affect an important area of countryside south of Congleton town centre.

The appeals are the Moorings in Congleton; Kestral Drive and Goldfinch Drive in Congleton.

Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said: “We are determined to do what is right for the people of Cheshire East and we believe that there are sound planning grounds for fighting these appeals.

“We are not the only local authority in this position and indeed many of the Shire counties, like us, have raised concerns with the Government that the goalposts have been moved in terms of housing numbers, placing more pressure to build on the countryside.

“At the time the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) was prepared our housing calculations were in line with national guidance and we feel we have simply fallen foul of recent policy changes in the midst of shifting sands during a difficult economic period.

“This does not mean that we will be fighting each and every appeal but we will be doing all we can to state our case on these two appeals.”

Updated position on the SHLAA:

The SHLAA is an annual document pin-pointing allocated housing sites across the Borough and has recently failed to meet the Planning Inspectorate’s robustness test in two recent appeal decisions. This was in relation to plans for housing along Congleton Road and Abbey Road in Sandbach.

There are two methods of accounting for the shortfall in housing numbers due to the recession: The Liverpool Method and the Sedgefield Method.  At the time the SHLAA was prepared, the Liverpool Method was endorsed by both the coalition Government and the House Builders Federation.

Liverpool Method: Cheshire East Council has used the long-established Liverpool Method. This spreads the shortfall over the number of years remaining in the development plan period – in the case of these appeals that was nine years.

Sedgefield Method: The Sedgefield Method mops up any shortfall in house-building over a five-year period. The Government appears to be suggesting that Cheshire East Council should have used this method.

The Council’s five-year supply using the Liverpool Method means that a basic 5,750 homes should be built in five years, with a five per cent buffer and backlog, totalling 6,777.

But the Inspectorate is now stating that land for a massive 3,250 extra houses should be  identified on top of the basic requirement of 5,750 homes should be built, totalling 9,000 homes. This is expands the target to almost an eight-year supply of land

The Council is now seeking clarification from Planning Minister Nick Boles about how the authority can move forward and adhere to current guidance, which appears to have changed since August this year.


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.