Cheshire East is set for a massive increase in jobs and homes over the next 15 years, according to a series of reports released today.
New evidence gathered during the suspension of the examination of the Cheshire East Local Plan shows that the Borough’s economy is likely to grow much more quickly than previously expected.
But the increase in new homes – needed to provide for rising numbers of aspirational working families – will be achieved without any major impact on the green belt.
A leading firm of economic development consultants has projected an average growth rate of 0.7 per cent per year between now and 2030. This compares with a growth rate of 0.4 per cent envisaged in 2009, when work began on the Local Plan.
As a result, Cheshire East Council has to make plans to accommodate an estimated 31,410 net new jobs, which are likely to be created in Cheshire East by 2030. The initial version of the Local Plan envisaged net jobs growth of 13,900.
This strong jobs growth would create a need for 36,000 new homes by 2030 – 7,000 more than were identified in the submitted version of the Local Plan.
The Council is making rapid progress towards this increased housing provision. The latest estimate suggests that when recent planning permissions are combined with the new housing proposed in the submitted Local Plan, the locations of approximately 33,000 homes have already been identified.
Additional new homes are needed to prevent a housing shortage that would leave us unable to provide for the needs of young families.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “When we began work on the Local Plan in 2009, we were in the midst of a deep recession, during which the UK’s GDP fell by 7.2 per cent.
“In 2012, the sun started shining again and Cheshire East is now in the midst of a jobs boom.
“Cheshire East now has more businesses per head than any other North West district. Seventeen of the region’s top 200 companies are headquartered in the Borough and 14 of our small and medium-sized businesses were named in 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain, a special report published by the London Stock Exchange.
“Because a good proportion of our existing workforce will reach retirement age in the next few years, this means that we need to attract more people into the Borough to maintain our strong economy.
“Cheshire East is a victim of its own success. Unless we want to see our roads clogged by a huge increase in commuter journeys into the area, we need to provide more housing locally to accommodate the likely increase in the number of people working in the Borough.
“We do not envisage major change to the green belt. We are committed to protecting our beautiful countryside and we will accommodate as much as possible of the additional new homes on brownfield sites.
“For example, work is already under way to create two new neighbourhoods close to Macclesfield town centre, which will provide up to 300 new homes on previously developed land. We are assessing all of our green belt land to ensure that we can protect the most important locations where development is least appropriate.
“Most towns and villages have played their part in providing allocated sites for a proportion of the overall housing number and will continue to do so.
“The Council will continue to support its residents, who tell us repeatedly that they do not want inappropriate and unsustainable development.
“We will maintain our rigorous approach in resisting proposals which clearly have an adverse impact on the sustainable development of the Borough.
“Our priority now is to put a strong plan in place that ensures we have the homes we need to match our growing economic success. We maintain that a plan-led approach to development provides the best approach for meeting the needs of future generations, whilst still maintaining the special character of this Borough.”
The extent of the work undertaken to gather the new evidence – covering economic strategy, housing need, green belt and spatial distribution – demonstrates that the Council is doing everything possible to support the Local Plan process and secure an early resumption of the examination.
The evidence released by the Council today will inform further work – and this will be submitted to the Inspector by the end of July in line with the agreed timetable. It is anticipated that initial examination hearings will then resume in the early autumn.