Council awaits Supreme Court ruling in landmark planning issue

Cheshire East Council is awaiting the ruling of five Supreme Court judges in its joint appeal over the interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework and the impact of the requirement for a five year housing land supply contained within it.

The council is arguing that the NPPF fails to attach sufficient importance and weight to local plans and neighbourhood plans when planning decisions are taken.

The council's submission stems from a Court of Appeal decision which ruled against the authority in the case of Richborough Estates and the developer's plans for 170 homes in the green gap at Moorfields in Willaston near Nantwich.

The joint application to the Supreme Court is with Suffolk Coastal District Council, which has put forward the same argument that local plans and neighbourhood plans should be given due weight where a five-year housing supply cannot be identified.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: "The Court of Appeal decision, which went against us, was too important to ignore.

"This is about Cheshire East Council standing up for our residents where we feel the planning policies in adopted local and neighbourhood plans can be too easily set aside on appeal.

"It takes years to prepare such plans with full community involvement and complex examination, and yet they can be deemed 'out of date' on the turn of a housing supply calculation.

"This loophole allows housing schemes to go ahead in the face of long-term planning policies such as green gap, protected landscapes or historic environments.

"We feel we had little choice but to test this, along with another planning authority, by going to the Supreme Court in the interests of our residents and to obtain clarity in the interpretation of the NPPF."

If the two councils are successful with their joint appeal, then it could impact on future planning decisions and appeals across the country.

The Supreme Court ruling is expected at a later date and follows a two-day hearing in February.

The hearing was web streamed

Cheshire East Council


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

Roger Bagguley
Friday 3rd March 2017 at 5:53 pm
For once I am impressed with what Cheshire East is doing here re housing and their Local Plan. It is way past time Government and Local Authorities make a move to get a grip on housing supply and to arrest control from the developers.
Terry Roeves
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 5:49 pm
Roger might well be impressed, but we can't be impressed by an NPPF open to so much interpretation that it needs the Supreme Court to clarify.
This is bad government.
Additionally with more than one method of calculating 5 year housing land is it any wonder that CEC is years behind getting the Local Plan signed off?
And when it is eventually signed off, the world will have moved on, as it already has and at a pace that CEC have not understood.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 7:03 pm
The Government has opened a consultation on the forthcoming White Paper on speculative development and neighbourhood plans; this is due to the concerns expressed from all over the country where the Local Authority has been unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing, allowing developers to ride roughshod. The concern is that where permission to build has been granted, it is not being taken up quickly, leading to further new applications (especially in Green Belt).
As far as I can see the message to Developers might, if this goes through, be use it or lose it.
CEC has given permission of 17k new builds but these are only very slowly going to build-out (as it now seems to be called), the developers continue to ask for more speculative sites and seem to ignore brown-field for as long as possible.

Consultation here:
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th March 2017 at 10:28 am
This is a paragraph from the White Paper:
Therefore we propose to amend national policy to make clear that authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements, including:
· making effective use of suitable brownfield sites and the opportunities offered by estate regeneration;
· the potential offered by land which is currently underused, including surplus public sector land where appropriate;
· optimising the proposed density of development;
· exploring whether other authorities can help to meet some of the identified development requirement.

CEC are clearly non-compliant with this statement with regard to Green Belt around Wilmslow.
Nick Jones
Monday 13th March 2017 at 11:56 am
It clearly evidences why CEC chose to ignore the Local Plan... I imagine if you frequently ‘deceive’ as demonstrated you soon forget Truth. Machavelli in the 1500’s identified that “Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts.. let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.” Unfortunately for CEC and the invertebrates working to a contrary agenda, We as the voting Public are aware of it and no meaningful explanation has been provided. This really is akin to Orwell’s 1984... “Ignorance is Strength ” “It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party ".. Perhaps A CEC Cllr who voted NOT to protect the Green belt would like to now explain ?
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th March 2017 at 2:36 pm
Gavin Barwell MP, Housing Minister speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme:

“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.

Perhaps our CEC Councillors who read this forum might like to comment?
Alan Brough
Monday 13th March 2017 at 2:49 pm
Perhaps our Ward Councillor could find out why CEC planning policy is at such odds with the guidelines and protection laid out by the Government in the White Paper?
Manuel Golding
Monday 13th March 2017 at 3:15 pm
Thanks to Mr Taylor for highlighting the Housing Minister's clear and robust defence of the Green Belt ("robust" being one of CEC's Planning gang's favourite words for their flawed Local Plan defence).
However, CEC in alliance with the pack of its developer compadres, has consistently and steadfastly supported, indeed gas been only too happy, to target the Borough's Green Belt sites, and particularly those in the Wilmslow area.
Residents of Wilmslow has consistently and regularly issued the current state of build numbers (i.e. approvals & builds) which clearly demonstrate that the town is well on target to achieving the 900 new homes CEC has stated need to be built here, all without any incursions into the Green Belt the Council has targeted.
Unfortunately the so called independent planning inspector appears to agree with the Council & developers, thus ignoring what has been built & approved, that he and they can & should defy the Housing Minister and destroy the Green Belt.
WHY are they so collectively seeking to destroy our precious Green Belt?
Nick Jones
Monday 13th March 2017 at 3:42 pm
Ironic we have Cllr Rachel Bailey (rebuttal to fact on these pages 19/9 16 ) ... “ disappointed yet again at the negative portrayal of Cheshire East Council for no good cause” and now from the further evidence facts emerging here.. No explanation as to the collective decision to remove green belt protection. Get rid of the hypocrisy .. and provide some much required clarity please !
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th March 2017 at 4:07 pm
Don't expect a quick response from Cllr. Bailey this week; along with Frank Jordan, Executive Head of Place(!!!) she is in Cannes "networking".
Nick Jones
Monday 13th March 2017 at 5:59 pm
Thanks for that update .. I wont hold my breath then.... Maybe just advising on harmonious merging La Republique together (Basque’s / Savoyan’s / Wallonian’s / Breton’s etc ) piece of cake after unsuccessful merge of E + W Cheshire surely !! or maybe just plain Brexit networking then ??
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 12:07 pm
"Executive Head of Place"? With such a gobbledegook (meaningless) title I wonder whether the man is straight out of "Twenty Twelve" (BBC 2 spoof on the London Olympics)?
Yet another example of new "corporate" hide and seek speak - give the bloke a meaningful title that the tax paying public can recognise and understand. Maybe that is the whole strategy, confuse the plebs with further & continuous meaningless language.

Thanks to Pete Taylor we now learn Cllr Bailey has swanned off to Cannes with Head of Place (no place quite like Cannes for a jolly on council tax payers c/c). Surely not on our expense account?
After all, this is the council that prides itself on saving untold sums for the council tax payers but which always turn out costing the said council tax payers additional sums.
When I was at school, admittedly a little time ago, taking away from summat always left a reduced amount.
Only CEC can rework the basic laws of subtraction to total a higher cost. Magic? Smoking mirrors? Kidology? Or just down right massaging the language?
Jon Armstrong
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 1:08 pm
They are spending £206.66 on hotel rooms, which for a three day conference is presumably two rooms for two nights for two people. You probably wouldn't even get into the Premier Inn for that, so I doubt they're doing very much "swanning".
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 1:43 pm
Yes these two are currently attending MIPIM in Cannes (current temperature 20 degrees and sunny). MIPIM, as I'm sure you all know, calls itself the "World's Leading Property Market" so, they are at a real-estate jamboree.

Reportedly the cost of this networking (or is that not-working?) trip will be, according to CEC, £3k approximately- a pittance compared to the £6,603.08 we spent last year on sending Cllr Paul Bates, Chairman of the Skills and Growth Company shadow board, and Julian Cobley, Head of Investment, to the same event; apparently to talk about Crewe station's HS2 bid and the Northern Gateway Development Zone.

No doubt we will receive a full report on what was discussed this time- would a cost/benefit analysis be too much to ask?

Perhaps our local CEC Councillors would care to comment in the meantime?

My Council Tax bill has just arrived: it has gone up from £2527.49 to £2650.17.
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 3:59 pm
Jon Armstrong, surely you must be aware such a trip is not just about hotel room costs?

Flights, taxis, entertaining, cost of entrances, cost/benefits .............should I go on?

It would be worthwhile to know what was learnt &/or achieved from last year's swanning?

And then from this year's repeat swanning?

As Pete Taylor has asked above and previously, would one of our ruling party CEC councillors care to put his/her head above the ramparts to offer a comment?

Silence is not golden!
Jon Armstrong
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 8:59 pm
Yes Manuel, I would never have thought of those without the benefit of your great wisdom. Except, clearly I did because I actually looked into these and had details before posting a comment.

If you want to know what happened at these ask the question formally or put in a freedom of information request. I would be disappointed if council employees had nothing better to do than trawl the internet looking for people challenging or questioning them. But if they did, just imagine how much it would cost and how much fun you could have complaining about it.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 11:23 pm
@ John Armstrong: thanks for pitching in to this debate; I also was surprised by the remarkably low cost of the accommodation our representatives managed to secure. When I worked in the South of France 10-15 years ago I would have grabbed, without question, decent places to squat at the prices quoted (even at today's prices). Unfortunately I think that our hard-served representatives may be forced to be living in hostels. Let us wait until the final bill, to you and me, is published on the CEC website.