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Thursday 26 February 2015

High Court backs Council’s rejection of Moorfields housing scheme


A High Court judge has backed Cheshire East Council’s refusal of planning permission for the controversial Moorfields housing scheme in Willaston.

Last August, a planning inspector granted consent for the proposal by Richborough Estates to build 146 houses on a green field site. However, the Council’s determination to have the decision overturned has now been successful, with costs for the High Court action awarded to Cheshire East.

The judgement represents yet another victory for the Council in cases where it has strongly opposed ‘unsustainable development’ on green field sites.

In four instances so far this year, where developers have challenged the Council through the planning appeals process, the Council has won its case for refusing permission.

In her judgement, Mrs. Justice Lang said that for many years the Council’s local planning policies had sought to maintain the separate identities of Nantwich, Crewe and the settlements between them and to preserve areas of open countryside from encroachment.

The Judge considered that green gap policy should not be set aside simply because the Council did not currently enjoy a five-year supply of housing land.

She said she doubted that the National Planning Policy Framework was intended to be used to routinely bypass local policies, which were protecting specific local features and landscapes.

Quashing the planning inspector’s decision of August 2014, Mrs. Justice Lang said she agreed with the council that the green gap was ‘esigned to protect specific areas or features, such as gaps between settlements’ and was not merely a housing supply policy.

Responding to the latest judgement, Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said: “I hope our critics will take note of this.

“This is yet another vindication of our policy to promote only sustainable development and to resist unsuitable, inappropriate development in the green gap.

“I am committed to protecting our communities from intrusive housing schemes, while endeavouring to see new homes built in areas of the Borough where they are really needed and do not conflict with planning policy.”

The High Court judgement comes just a month after the Secretary of State supported the Council’s refusal of a plan to build up to 880 homes at Gresty Oaks, Shavington, on the grounds that it was unsustainable in the green gap.

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