Air quality data at centre of Cheshire East legal challenge

Following confirmation last week that the council had received papers regarding a legal challenge against the recently adopted Local Plan, Cheshire East has released a statement on the nature of the challenge.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council, said: “A legal challenge has been made to the adoption of the council’s Local Plan Strategy. The challenge was lodged by Muller Properties last week.

“Muller Properties is claiming that the council failed to take into account the issue relating to incorrect air quality data when adopting the Local Plan.

“A claim of this kind is not unusual where major council policy is approved.

“The proceedings have been issued ‘protectively’, pending Muller Properties’ consideration of a response by the council, in which the authority explains that this issue had no effect on the plan process.

“The lodging of the legal challenge of this kind does not change the legal status of the Local Plan Strategy. The plan will continue to be the starting point in deciding planning applications.

“It also continues to provide the strategic planning context for the preparation of neighbourhood plans. The plan was developed in consultation with many stakeholders and is a key policy to help us balance releasing the potential of the borough of Cheshire East while protecting it from unplanned, unsustainable development.

“The lodging of a legal challenge is disappointing but Muller Properties have now had a full and robust response from us addressing the points they have raised. We are firm in our position that the incorrect air quality data would not have resulted in any changes to the Local Plan.”

The creation and adoption of the Cheshire East Local Plan has been a long-running saga, which has seen a draft and re-draft, extensive examination by a Government planning inspector.

The document has been seven years in the making, the last three of which have been spent receiving public comments and submissions on the council’s proposed strategic blueprint.

In August, it was revealed that air pollution data from between 2012 and 2014 in Cheshire East was inaccurate, after discovering that the results had been manipulated to make certain areas appear cleaner.

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There will be a right stink about this.

By Jonny Fartpants

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