Local Plan moves forward to look at additional sites and Green Belt changes

Cheshire East Council is launching a consultation on the second part of the Local Plan, which invites people to have their say on a number of important issues including whether adjustments are required to the Green Belt boundary around Wilmslow and where additional smaller development sites should be located.

The authority's Local Plan Strategy sets out the strategic framework for development until 2030 and has been broadly backed by a planning inspector, subject to some necessary changes. Now the council is seeking views on its 'daughter document' – the Site Allocations and Development Policies (SADP) – which provides much more detail.

The SADP will allocate additional sites for development, these will be smaller sites within town centres, the larger villages and rural areas and generally they will be sites of less than 150 homes or 5 hectares in size.

It will also set out more detailed policies to guide planning application decisions in the Borough. As part of this, boundaries will be reviewed or established around towns and villages to guide the location of new development at a local level, and around town centres to support investment in them. Land that needs particular protection will be designated, for example, because of its significance to biodiversity or the historic environment.

Whilst the first part of the Cheshire East Local Plan focused on Key Service Centres, including Wilmslow and Handforth, the second stage will look at the Local Service Centres. There are 13 of these - Alderley Edge, Audlem, Bollington, Bunbury, Chelford, Disley, Goostrey, Haslington, Holmes Chapel, Mobberley, Prestbury, Shavington and Wrenbury.

There remains 1125 homes and 3.56 hectares of employment land to be identified across the 13 Local Service Centres to meet the targets established in the Local Plan Strategy.

This second part of the Council's Local Plan will contain further site allocations as necessary to ensure that the overall development requirements, as set out in the Local Plan Strategy, are met.

The first step in preparing the SADPD is called the 'Issues Paper' which sets out key questions for residents, businesses and stakeholders to respond to.

Some of the issues raised in this consultation include how the development requirement of the Local Service Centres should be apportioned and whether any further adjustments to the Green Belt boundary are required around Macclesfield and the Key Service Centres (Handforth, Knutsford, Poynton and Wilmslow) and around the Local Service Centres inset within the Green Belt (Alderley Edge, Bollington, Chelford, Disley, Mobberley and Prestbury).

The consultation on the Issues Paper is supported by a 'call for sites', providing an opportunity for landowners and developers to make the Council aware of sites that they consider to be suitable for development. This will include sites for additional housing, employment, retail and leisure and other types of development.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East cabinet member for housing and planning, said: "Now that the Local Plan Strategy is nearing completion we want to press on and complete the second, more detailed stage of the plan. This will provide our towns and villages with a greater depth of policies and proposals.

"At this point, it's very much 'early days' in this particular process and so we are encouraging all who have an interest in development and who care about the future of our borough to get involved in the consultation.

"The Local Plan is the council's most important tool for shaping development in Cheshire East to 2030, so I would encourage people to take the time to share their views."

The Site Allocations and Development Policies' Issues Paper will be subject to a six-week consultation from Monday, February 21st until April 10 (2017). Following this, an initial draft plan will be prepared and further consultation will follow.

The document is accompanied by a 'call for sites' so the council can gain an up-to-date picture of what land is potentially available for future development. Landowners and developers with suitable sites are being asked to put them forward during the consultation process. This call for sites will replace previous versions.

The SADPD will be prepared throughout 2017 with a view to publishing the version that it intends to submit to the Secretary of State in the first quarter of 2018. The SADPD forms part of the Local Plan for Cheshire East, along with the LPS, and once adopted they will replace the three district Local Plans for Crewe and Nantwich, Congleton and Macclesfield.

As previously reported, a separate six-week consultation on 'main modifications' to the Local Plan Strategy, called by Planning Inspector Stephen Pratt, is already running and ends on March 20.

Full details can be found here.

Local Plan, Local Plan Strategy, Site Allocations and Development Policies


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 7:57 pm
CEC Cllrs voted to remove the Green Belt protection from around Wilmslow. Their actions are noted. The "public consultation" has been demonstrably ignored... So what could possible change now (without an election) to cause the voting public confidence to engage in this pretentiousness
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 23rd February 2017 at 3:45 pm
It is vital as many people as possible make the point to Cheshire East that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for them to remove any more land from the Green Belt around Wilmslow. In its current state the Local Plan calls for 900 houses to be built with a further 26 required in this round two. Time has gone on with many more houses being committed. A recent official update added a further 52 houses to the list of commitments, 14 at Ned Yates Garden Centre, 28 at 2 - 6 Holly Road North and 10 at 20 Chapel Lane. Now add the 24 apartments at Citation House and the additional 26 required in this round is achieved 3 times over. Such is the ongoing windfall rate that today 510 houses are already committed in Wilmslow with a further 525 to come on the sites so far allocated in the Plan. If there are to be any changes to the Green Belt then we need to urge Cheshire East to address this gross over allocation of housing by removing at least one of the allocated sites from the Plan. Throughout this process we have all been assured it is "Brownfield first."

The call for sites is long overdue. It will enable the SHLAA to be updated. But this should happen annually so as to identify brown sites and protect the Green Belt. Memory is the current Local plan is based upon the last update in 2012. Unacceptable.

As with housing there is gross over allocation of Green Belt land to employment. In their calculation of need for Wilmslow Cheshire East somehow forgot to include all of

the land currently occupied by Waters on Altrincham Road. The reasoning behind this was lame at best and came across as struggling to cover a big mistake.

In conclusion as many people as possible need to respond to this second round consultation and assert far too much land is already being removed from the Green Belt around Wilmslow. Enough is enough. To take more is to contravene all policies designed to protect the Green Belt and to disrespect the wishes of all of the many people who have supported the process throughout and patiently taken part in the public consultations. Some respect is overdue.
Christopher Baker
Thursday 23rd February 2017 at 6:48 pm
There is currently much talk, in the context of national politics, about "respecting the will of the people". In local politics, it sometimes feels as though the default mantra is "consult and ignore". There are, of course, some notable exceptions. However, I think it would be of interest to learn (1) what is the total cost of the entire CEC consultation exercise relating to the Local Plan, (2) what percentage of the input from residents has resulted in anything more than minor changes of wording in the Local Plan, and (3) whether the answers for CEC are representative of those for other local authorities in the UK. Hopefully, the answers prove not as depressing as I fear they may be.
Pete Taylor
Friday 24th February 2017 at 2:36 pm
This is not over yet, the Prime Minister has said that the people must be listened to. Action just over our border shows perhaps what we will have to do to persuade CEC that they need to listen too.
Pete Taylor
Monday 27th February 2017 at 11:20 am
I've been trying to wade through the treacle on the CEC website in order to make comments. Here is a statement from CEC which I find absolutely astounding:

7.12 It is important that sites with planning permission for new homes are built out quickly. There are planning commitments across Cheshire East for over 17,000 new homes and significantly more land is allocated for residential development in the LPS. Not all of these committed homes, however, contribute towards the Council's five year supply of deliverable housing land because of the rate at which house builders intend to bring them forward.

So, just because developers don't feel like (presumably for reasons of profit) building the houses which they already have permission for on their banked land, CEC now want to identify even more sites in order to come up with this fantasy five-year requirement! How will this ever end?

In any event, I thought that Westminster had reduced the five-year requirement down to three years.
Alan Leach
Friday 3rd March 2017 at 1:46 pm
Can somebody within CEC please issue the simple calculation :-
(Number of new houses required) LESS (Number of new houses already committed) = ???

I think the result will conclude that no further loss to our Green Belt is necessary.
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th March 2017 at 9:46 am
I am in correspondence with the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP who has sent out a consultation on the white Paper dealing with changes to the NPPF. http://bit.ly/2ljpRSu the closing date for this consultation is May 5th. I believe that CEC are trying to rush through the pillaging of Green Belt before the consultation ends. Once again they seem to dancing to the developers tune.

Here is what the Housing Minister said on TV: Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme, he added: “We are not going to weaken the (Green Belt) protections. We have a clear manifesto commitment. There is no need to take huge tracts of land out of the Green Belt to solve the housing crisis.”
“They [councils] can take land out of the Green Belt in exceptional circumstances but they should have looked at every alternative first. That policy is not going change.”
The Prime Minister has gone on record supporting this position.

I would urge residents to visit the CEC planning portal http://bit.ly/2mRJoh4 as a matter of urgency to try to get CEC to take note of the Government policy above.