Cheshire East Council acts to strengthen its planning framework
Cheshire East Council is to move forward on the next phase of Cheshire East’s development plan.
The site allocations and development policies document (SADPD), which forms the second part of the council’s Local Plan, was considered by members of the authority’s cabinet.
Members agreed to move towards the next round of public consultation on the draft document which, once finalised, will provide the approved framework for housing, employment, and other key infrastructure sites up to 2030.
Following directly on from the Local Plan Strategy adopted in 2017, the SADPD provides detailed policies to guide new development, including housing – and also allocates a limited amount of new development, mainly within the smaller towns and larger villages.
The majority of development needs have already been provided for through the Local Plan Strategy.
The sites in the SADPD will be non-strategic – generally sites of fewer than 60 homes or two hectares (five acres) in size. Some will be focused in key employment areas in principal towns or in smaller key centres.
When adopted, the SADPD will replace the old policies of the three former borough local plans, covering Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe and Nantwich, dating back to 2004, and address current planning issues – such as climate change mitigation, housing for older people and improving the quality and variety of new homes.
Councillor Toni Fox, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for planning, said: “This plan takes account of consultation responses to the draft document published last September and I’m gratified that extra effort has been made in recent months to engage with town and parish councils about the proposals.
“Having reviewed the options, we recognised the need to have a robust and up-to-date planning framework to avoid further unplanned and speculative developments that took place in our borough in recent years. To reflect the changed planning guidance from Whitehall, we are putting in place a raft of refreshed planning policies that will better equip us to shape and manage sustainable development in Cheshire East.
“As well as updating our planning policies, the SADPD identifies new development areas to meet the needs of some settlements and particular sections of our communities. Among these are plans for fresh residential sites for Gypsies and Travellers and a new transit site to provide safe and regulated accommodation for those passing through the borough.
“In some locations, small allocations are proposed in the greenbelt. This is necessary to meet localised needs in those villages and to ensure no further greenbelt changes are made until at least the 2040s.
“Completion of the site allocations plan is an important step towards securing a strong and resilient basis for planning in Cheshire East, including maintaining a five-year supply of housing land. We want to be able to review our Local Plan in future from a position of strength – without risking a planning free-for all.”
In 2018/19 a record 3,062 new homes were completed in Cheshire East. As well as providing accommodation for families and individuals, this total reduces past housing backlogs and helps the council demonstrate a five-year supply of housing.
Cllr Fox added: “Despite increased home building, our five-year supply continues to be challenged by sections of the development industry, determined to promote sites outside the Local Plan. The current Local Plan target of 1,800 homes per year is reflective of past economic ambitions and is almost 50 per cent higher than the government’s own calculation of housing need for the borough using their new methodology.
“We want to move promptly to a position where our five-year supply targets properly reflect the revised approach towards identifying housing requirements using the national methodology – and so we will be looking to assess which parts of Local Plan Strategy need to be reviewed and updated.
“To do this, we need to move on with the rest of the Local Plan and so publish the SADPD for formal consultation. This will allow the plan to progress to external examination, where all parties can seek independent scrutiny.”