Cheshire East Council today welcomed the decision by Secretary of State Eric Pickles to uphold the planning inspector’s refusal of an application to build up to 800 homes, school, retirement village and other amenities on ‘green gap’ land at Shavington near Crewe.
The Secretary of State Eric Pickles was asked to determine the appeal by Himor Group whose application was rejected by the planning inspector following a public inquiry last summer.
In his announcement today (Tuesday) Mr Pickles said that while the proposed scheme could be seen as sustainable development providing much needed housing, the premature permanent loss of green gap and outweighed the argument in favour.
Mr. Pickles said “…a decision to allow development on the appeal site could reasonably be seen to pre-empt or prejudice the outcome of the local plan examination.”
Welcoming the decision, Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones said: “This is excellent news and clearly vindicates our continued policy of contesting housing schemes that do not meet with our long-term aspirations for a balanced and sustainable development strategy across the Borough.
“It also sends out a message that, despite claims to the contrary, developers are not in a position to dictate the Council’s planning policy simply because we have yet to complete on our strategic local plan for the Borough.”
“Eric Pickles is to be thanked and congratulated for supporting the Council’s justifiable reasons for opposing this application.”
Giving his reasons for upholding the refusal, the Secretary of State said he agreed with Cheshire East Council that growth should not overwhelm the independent character of Crewe, including maintaining a separate identity for its satellite villages.
He said that allowing the appeal in before the Local Plan had resolved the green belt/green gap issue would undermine the plan-making process.
Himor proposed to build up to 800 homes on a 108-acre site of mainly agricultural land about 1.5 miles from the centre of Crewe and to the south of the town.
The developer appealed on the grounds that the Council had failed to determine the application within the prescribed period. The Council said it would have refused permission as the proposed development was in open countryside, would result in the loss of versatile farm land and was located in the green gap.
The council argued that a transport assessment had underestimated traffic impact in the locality and that the scale of the proposed development would affect a wide area. To approve it could set a precedent for future applications and was contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework.