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Wednesday 17 July 2019

Cheshire East Council set to strengthen its planning framework

Councillors are to consider the next phase of Cheshire East’s development plan.

The latest version of the second stage of Cheshire East Council’s Local Plan – the site allocations and development policies document (SADPD) – will be considered by members of the authority’s strategic planning board on 24 July.

The document, once finalised, will provide the approved framework for housing, employment, and other key infrastructure sites up to 2030.

Following directly on from the Local Plan Strategy adopted in 2017, the SADPD provides detailed policies to guide new development, including housing – and also allocate a limited amount of new development, mainly within the smaller towns and larger villages.

The majority of development needs have already been provided for through the Local Plan Strategy.

The sites in the SADPD will be non-strategic – generally sites of fewer than 60 homes or two hectares (five acres) in size. Some will be focused in key employment areas in principal towns or in smaller key centres.

When adopted, the SADPD will replace the old policies of the three former borough local plans, covering Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe and Nantwich, dating back to 2004, and address current planning issues – such as climate change mitigation, housing for older people and improving the quality and variety of new homes.

Councillor Toni Fox, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for planning, said: “Having reviewed the options, we recognise the need to have a robust and up-to-date planning framework to avoid a repeat of the unplanned and speculative developments that arose in this borough in recent years. To reflect the changed government planning guidance, we are putting in place a raft of fresh planning policies that will better equip us to shape and manage sustainable development of the borough.

“This plan takes account of consultation responses to the draft document published last September and I’m pleased to say that extra effort has been made, since then, to engage with town and parish councils about the various proposals.

“As well as updating our planning policies, the SADPD identifies new development areas to meet the needs of certain settlements and particular sections of our communities. Among these are plans for fresh residential sites for Gypsies and Travellers and a new transit site to provide safe and regulated accommodation for those passing through the borough.

“In some locations, small allocations are proposed in the greenbelt. This is necessary to meet localised needs in those villages and to ensure no further greenbelt changes are made until at least the 2040s.

“Completion of the site allocations plan is an important step towards securing a strong and resilient basis for planning in Cheshire East, including maintaining a five-year supply of housing land. We want to be able to review our Local Plan in future from a position of strength – without risking a planning free-for all.”

In 2018/19 a record 3,062 new homes were completed in Cheshire East. As well as providing accommodation for families and individuals this total reduces past housing backlogs and helps the Cheshire East Council demonstrate a five-year supply of housing.

Cllr Fox added: “Despite such healthy home building, our five-year supply continues to be challenged by certain sections of the development industry, bent on promoting sites outside of the Local Plan.

“The current Local Plan target of 1,800 homes per year is reflective of past economic ambitions and is almost 50 per cent higher than the government’s own calculation of housing need for the borough using their new methodology.

“We want to move promptly to a position whereby our five-year supply targets are closer aligned with the national methodology – and so we will be looking to assess which parts of Local Plan Strategy need to be reviewed and updated.

“To do this, we need to move on with the rest of the Local Plan and so publish the SADPD for formal consultation. This will allow the plan to progress to external examination, where all parties can seek independent scrutiny.”

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