Sandbach plan

Neighbourhood plan for Sandbach

During the Cuban missile crisis President Kennedy is reported to have said,
"The Canadians have as usual offered every possible form of assistance,
short of actual help."

In the same vein, the Conservatives have done everything they possibly can
to oppose the speculative housing applications in south Cheshire, short of
actually stopping them. The local Conservative MPs have written letters
saying they oppose various housing applications on Greenfield sites, but are
members of the government that introduced the new National Planning Policy
Framework (NPPF) which has caused the problem by including a presumption in
favour of sustainable development on greenfield sites. The local
Conservative mayor delivered a petition to Downing Street, but the Prime
Minister ignored the petition and recently told Tories to back plans for new
rural homes.

There are 3 things that would be effective in stopping the speculative
housing applications blighting Sandbach. Firstly at a national level the
NPPF should be repealed. Labour have already committed to repealing the NPPF
and giving more power to local people to decide on planning applications.

Secondly, Cheshire East Council should give a clear working definition of
'sustainable' developments in Cheshire. I called for this in July 2012, but
still this hasn't been done.

Thirdly, under the government's new planning framework local areas can have
a say in where houses are built and what new infrastructure is needed if
they prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. A successful Neighbourhood Plan must be a
positive document that balances new housing with the necessary
infrastructure improvements. Brereton are currently working on their
Neighbourhood Plan. Sandbach Town Council should be preparing a
Neighbourhood Plan. I called for this in April 2013 and indeed the proposal
was passed, but the Conservative Mayor of Sandbach cancelled the working
group meetings and then suspended standing orders at a meeting in July to
reverse the decision and delay further consideration until Cheshire East had
published its Core Strategy. His reasoning for cancelling the Sandbach
Neighbourhood Plan was that the Cheshire East Local Plan was almost complete
and would be ready before a Neighbourhood Plan could be completed. A
Neighbourhood Plan for Sandbach would take about a year to complete, so if
we had started in April 2013 we would be now be well on the way to having
protection for Sandbach.

Cheshire East Council published its Core Strategy Proposed Sites in
September, but then withdrew the proposals after major flaws were pointed
out.  The Cheshire East Local Plan now looks as though it won't be in place
until 2015. I would have thought that an obvious solution would be to get
cracking on a Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan and that is what I proposed at the
Sandbach Town Council meeting on Thursday. Amazingly the Conservative Mayor
ruled my proposal out of order on the grounds that Cheshire East Council had
not published its 'final' Core Strategy. I do realise that it would be
politically embarrassing for the Conservatives if a town like Sandbach
publicly expressed a lack of confidence in Conservative-controlled Cheshire
East Council's ability to get a Local Plan in place promptly, but I think
that Sandbach Town Council should put the interests of Sandbach first.

However, given that a Neighbourhood Plan for Sandbach has been blocked, the
latest Cheshire East Consultation becomes even more important. I urge
everyone to respond. Details are available at ncla.co.uk

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