Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Cheshire council's request for Secretary of State to recover planning appeals refused, report says

Out-Law News | 28 Jul 2014 | 4:35 pm | 1 min. read

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has told Cheshire East Council that the Secretary of State (SoS) for Communities and Local Government will not agree to its request to recover several planning appeals for determination, according to a report in Planning Magazine.

According to the report, the Council wrote to PINS asking for five current appeals, against decisions by the Council to refuse planning permission for housing developments in the borough, to be determined by the SoS. The request followed a series of cases in which planning inspectors came to different conclusions regarding the Council's ability to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, a requirement under the National Planning Policy Framework.

A decision from inspector Frances Mahoney on 14 July (17-page / 161KB PDF), granting permission for a 95-home development in Alsager, said that "over the last year the position of the Council, as to whether it has an identified supply of housing land, has swung backwards and forwards finally settling on the morning of the inquiry opening on a positive position." Mahoney expressed concerns about the evidence on which the Council had based its latest housing figures and concluded that the Council could only demonstrate a 3.6-year supply of housing land.

Mahoney's decision was in line with those of several previous inspectors. In decisions made between October 2013 and April 2014, Inspectors Major (23-page / 206 KB PDF), Clark (19-page / 173 KB PDF) and Middleton (26-page / 225 KB PDF) all cited a failure by the Council to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land in granting permission for up to 160, 30 and 96 dwellings respectively.

In a decision letter dated 20 May 2014 (5-page / 87 KB PDF), however, planning inspector Anthony Lyman noted that the Council had recently submitted an updated housing supply position statement taking account of forthcoming developments allowed under previous appeals and concluded that the Council could now demonstrate a five-year supply.

Council leader Michael Jones was reported to have told Planning Magazine that the Council "wants no special privileges; [it just] wants to be treated fairly and consistently".

The Council's draft local plan core strategy is currently under consideration by PINS, having been submitted for examination in May. The appointed planning inspector, Stephen Pratt wrote to the Council (4-page / 52 KB PDF) on 11 June raising concerns about "the adequacy and methodology of the Council's objective assessment of housing needs in terms of the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework"