Cheshire East Council refused planning applications for 594 homes at the latest meeting of the Strategic Planning Board, despite a recent planning inspector report outlining problems with the area's pipeline of housing.
At the Strategic Planning Board meeting on 30 April, proposals for 594 homes across four sites were put to the council, all accompanied by a planning officer recommendation to refuse which the Councillors supported.
The proposals were rejected for a variety of reasons, including loss of agricultural land and highway difficulties. Most commonly cited was the Council's planning policy position as the sites did not fall within the designated development areas in its local plan.
The applications included plans for 200 homes at Old Mill Road in Sandbach by Muller Property Group, 150 homes on Padgbury Lane in Congleton by Northern Property Investment Group, 120 dwellings at Padgbury Lane in Congleton by Louise Williams and Kathleen Ford, and 124 homes on Broughton Road in Crewe by WCE Properties.
In April a government planning inspector overruled Cheshire East Council's rejection of a housing development in Sandbach, in a letter stating that the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing sites.
The planning inspector pointed out that 40% of houses assumed to be delivered within the council's proposed pipeline for the next five years do not have planning permission.
Cheshire East submitted its draft local plan to the Secretary of State last week, which defines planning policies for the area and includes site allocation and development boundaries. According to the council the plan was due to be implemented in 2013, however the current timetable shows it will not be in place until February 2015 at the earliest.
Last week Stockport Council issued its criticism of the Cheshire East local plan to the planning inspectorate, which includes questions around the level of investigation that the council had undertaken to form its decision to release some green belt land for development. Stockport Council said that there was no justification for the safeguarded land sites included in the local plan.
Planners Hourigan Connolly will be launching an appeal on behalf of the developers regarding the two Padgbury Lane sites, totalling 270 homes.
Muller Property Group is currently involved in a separate appeal against Cheshire East's ruling on a 132-home development in Alsager. An inquiry is set to go ahead in October which will be the developer's third in 12 months against the council. Colin Muller, managing director of Muller, said: "The council state that it has more than a five-year supply of housing, but this figure is fundamentally flawed. The council is continuing its smoke screen approach to calculations and has an entirely flawed evidence base. We contend that Cheshire East does not even have a three-year supply of housing.
"This authority has to own up to its dire position and wholesale lack of provision."
Dan Mitchell, partner at planner Barton Willmore, advises house builders on new applications in Cheshire. He said: "Cheshire East Council has had a decade to bring forward a local plan that deals with housing development in line with its economic intentions for the coming years.
"As that plan is now emerging the development industry has concerns as to whether it will stand up under government scrutiny. There have been a raft of recent appeal decisions that set out quite clearly the fact that Cheshire East does not have a five year land supply.
"It is disappointing that the council has not embraced a better relationship with the development industry."
No one at Cheshire East Council was available to comment.