Inspector recommends Cheshire neighbourhood plan for referendum

Out-Law News | 07 Aug 2014 | 3:33 pm | 1 min. read

The neighbourhood plan for a Cheshire parish can be put to the public vote after an independent examiner recommended that it be submitted for referendum following minor modifications.

The Winsford neighbourhood plan, drawn up by Winsford Town Council, is intended to be used to guide planning decisions in the parish of Winslow until 2030. The plan allocates sites for the provision of 3,235 new homes in the plan period across 24 sites.

The plan was submitted for examination in October 2013 and independent examiner Dr Charles Mynors commenced a public hearing in January, which was immediately adjourned pending the High Court's decision on a legal challenge to the neighbourhood plan for nearby Tattenhall. Two housebuilders had challenged Chester West and Chester Council's (CWCC) decision to put the Tattenhall plan to referendum, claiming that certain of its policies conflicted with the emerging local plan for the area, concerns that were shared in the case of the Winsford plan.

The hearing was reconvened in May after the High Court dismissed the Tattenhall challenge, ruling that the only statutory requirement was that a neighbourhood plan as a whole should be in general conformity with the adopted development plan as a whole.

In a report (52-page / 650 KB PDF) to CWCC on 30 July, Mynors concluded that "the Winsford plan, taken as a whole, is clearly structured and well written. It sets out a positive vision for the future of Winsford and will provide a practical basis within which decisions on planning applications can be made with a high degree of predictability and efficiency".

In response to complaints that the emerging plan was not properly publicised, the inspector said: "I recognise that local people in Winsford feel that they were not sufficiently involved. But I also know that those who are opposed to a particular proposal will often claim that it has not been sufficiently publicised - by which they generally mean that it should have been given wide publicity sufficient to generate the level of opposition that they know (or feel) to exist".

The inspector decided that "the consultation process was undertaken conscientiously and reasonably thoroughly" and was satisfied that the statutory requirements had been complied with.