White Moss Quarry Planning Appeal puts 5 year supply in doubt

An application to build an additional 400 houses on White Moss Quarry near
Alsager was refused by Cheshire East Council. The developers appealed. It is
welcome news that the Planning Inspectorate have dismissed the appeal.

However, the appeal ruling includes some worrying comments that suggest
future appeals may be upheld because Cheshire East Council does not have a
5-year housing land supply. Under the rules introduced by the coalition
government (National Planning Policy Framework) if a local authority does
not have a 5-year housing land supply then a 'tilted balance' applies and
planning permission must be granted unless the local authority can prove
that the harmful effects of the development would 'significantly and
demonstrably' outweigh the benefits.

The Inspector considered whether Cheshire East Council had a 5-year housing
land supply and said,
"To my mind, even though the calculated supply includes a 20% buffer, the
5-year supply should be considered to be marginal and, potentially, in
doubt."

"I conclude that it would be both cautious and prudent in the circumstances
of this case to regard policies for the supply of housing to be considered
not up-to-date, thus engaging the tilted balance of paragraph 14 of the
Framework."

"Paragraph 14 of the Framework indicates that where relevant policies in the
development plan are out of date, in this case arising from the marginality
of a sufficiently convincing 5-year housing land supply, planning permission
should be granted unless any adverse effects of doing so would significantly
and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies
in the Framework as a whole."

In the case of White Moss Quarry, the Inspector noted that at least 300 of
the houses applied for would not be built within 5 years and so would not
contribute to the 5-year housing land supply. In this case the Inspector
rejected the application. The worry now is that any speculative developments
that are able to demonstrate that the houses would be built within 5 years
will be granted permission even if they breach the Local Plan and any
Neighbourhood Plan.


Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, said, "Although
Cheshire East Council does now, at last, have a Local Plan, the failure to
maintain a 5-year housing land supply could mean that permission for
speculative housing applications outside the Local Plan will be granted.
This is a disaster for local communities who relied on Conservative promises
that they would stop the flood of speculative housing. Sadly, under the
Conservative planning rules, Neighbourhood Plans can also be over-ruled if
Cheshire East Council fails to maintain a 5-year housing land supply."

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, "The Cheshire East
Local Plan includes an assumption of building 1800 new houses a year (or
9000 over 5 years). A recent government consultation suggested that Cheshire
East only needed 1142 houses a year (or 5710 over 5 years). Sadly, in July
the Conservatives rejected a Labour proposal to start work on a new Local
Plan so we are stuck with the higher requirement in order to demonstrate a
5-year housing land supply. The continued short sighted and arrogant
attitude of the Cheshire East Conservatives in refusing the Labour proposals
to continue developing the Local Plan to hold back speculative developments
will add further stain on local services and investment-starved
infrastructure."

Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath &
East said, "The five police investigations swirling around
Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council should not be allowed to
distract attention from the ongoing problems over speculative housing
developments caused by national Conservative Party policies and local
Conservative incompetence. Developers are making millions out of housing on
greenfield sites and local communities have to suffer increasing traffic
congestion and overloaded services.
We need proper local government planning to ensure that houses are built in
the places where they are needed and that appropriate infrastructure
improvements are provided.
Under the Conservatives private developers build houses in the places and
styles that make them most money, without regard for local residents.

"The White Moss Quarry site has had a colourful history. The Local
Government Ombudsman ruled that Cheshire East Council had knowingly and
persistently misled the public over a previous planning application. When
questioned at a Cabinet meeting in 2014 about White Moss Quarry the previous
Council Leader said "I am very concerned that certain sites historically in
the Council have come forward with strange decisions around them. That won't
happen on my watch. I'm not part of any secret group, masons or whatever."

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