The Secretary of State has granted permission to Gladman Developments Ltd to build up to 300 dwellings on Witters Field in Wistaston.
The ruling is bad news for the people of Wistaston village who have been campaigning against this development. The ruling is also bad news for Cheshire East as it raises technical issues about which of their planning policies can be considered up to date in the absence of a 5-year housing land supply. Yet again, Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council has been criticised for not having a 5-year housing land supply and for not having an approved Local Plan. The deputy leader of the Council recently admitted that the Council might never have a 5-year housing land supply. It is unlikely that the Cheshire East Local Plan will be approved before 2017.
The ruling suggests that the ‘green gaps’ between towns and villages in south Cheshire are of little significance in determining planning appeals.
Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “I am bitterly disappointed for the people of Wistaston village that planning permission has been granted to build houses on Witters Field. It concerns me that, with all the talk of a High Growth City for Crewe, we are not looking at the prospect of a garden city with plenty of green spaces between our small towns and villages. We need to acknowledge the historic nature of some of our towns and villages and work together to retain that historic settlement.”
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “There is widespread agreement that as a nation we need to build more houses. Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government planning determine where the houses should be built (such as brownfield sites in Stoke). The Conservatives have let loose private developers, allowing them to build on sites where they can make the greatest profit (greenfield sites in Cheshire).
Tories let private developers pick and choose the sites that make them most money.
Labour would have plan-led development. The Tories rely on the free market and are allowing developer-led planning.
The Witters Field is just the latest in a long line of green fields in Cheshire that are being lost as a result of Tory policy to let private developers have more power in deciding where to build houses.”
Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, “At the planning committees we are trying to refuse applications which are detrimental to the rural aspect of villages. But our hands are tied by this constant referral to the lack of a 5-year housing land supply. We know the planning applications need to be refused but we are constantly advised by the planning officers of the developer’s high success potential at appeal and its subsequent cost to the Council. As a Councillor who represents a dense built up urban ward I am concerned at this further expansion of urban sprawl closing the green gaps.”