Secretary of State to allow Cheshire housing scheme
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced he is ‘minded’ to approve developer Fox Strategic Land’s proposals for a 280-dwelling development at Sandbach in Cheshire, subject to a “satisfactory” agreement on affordable housing provision.
The Secretary of State had earlier refused consent for the scheme, the subject of a recovered appeal, in September 2011, in line with Cheshire East Council’s opposition to the project.
Originally, the Secretary of State blocked the scheme on the grounds it would prejudice work on the council’s local development framework.
However, this decision was quashed by the High Court, a move upheld by the Court of Appeal, and the appeal was sent back to the Secretary of State for re-determination.
Now the Secretary of State has signalled his intention to allow the appeal despite a planning inspector’s recommendations to dismiss.
The decision letter made it clear that Pickles disagreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the development was inconsistent with the spatial vision of the council’s development plan.
The Communities Secretary noted that policy requirements to ensure a development was in line with the spatial vision for the area had been replaced by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which backed sustainable development.
He said that while the council’s development plan policies favoured the “higher order” settlement of Crewe for larger scale housing developments, it also acknowledged that rural development could be concentrated in key service centres which included Sandbach.
The letter states “The Secretary of State considers that the proposed development is not inconsistent with the spatial vision of the development plan, which provides scope for new development in a town such as Sandbach.”
The Secretary of State also argued that the council’s inability to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land in line with NPPF requirements was critical.
He said that this was a “significant factor weighing in support of the proposed development” and that it outweighed the conflict with development plan policies restricting development in open countryside.
The Secretary of State concluded that “on balance” the proposal represented a sustainable development which would help to rectify the “serious and significant” shortfall in housing land supply and affordable housing.
14 February 2013
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