Cheshire East resits housing exam

Cheshire East Council will today publish its latest attempt to prove it has five years of deliverable housing supply to satisfy government and enable it to stop a run of consents won on appeal by house builders on green belt and other sensitive sites.

The report, due to be published this afternoon, will go to the strategic planning board next Tuesday 4 February setting out council evidence that it has planning consents in place for 9,971 units, allowing for a 20% surplus buffer in case of undelivered units or 8,311 units with a 5% buffer.

The council has in the past year repeatedly lost appeals heard by planning inspectors and secretary of state Eric Pickles due to inability to demonstrate five years supply of deliverable housing applications. In October, Pickles said the council's case was not persuasive and many of its reserved sites had not been properly tested in the planning process.

Cllr Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East Council, told Place North West this morning: "This is a remarkable turnaround in three months and means we can protect green belt and the people of Cheshire."

He added that more lenient negotiating on section 106 agreements had helped increase consents; around £2m on S106 contributions had been sacrificed, Jones said.

He did not rule out further inquiries and legal tests for future applications for new housing in the borough, saying "of course [there will be tests], we're Cheshire East."

Jones blamed the moratorium on new housing applications imposed in parts of Cheshire under the Labour government for the relatively low number of units delivered, a key part of the evidence against the local authority at recent inquiries.

House builders and their planning advisors who are currently going through appeal were expecting an announcement on the council's five-year supply.

The amount of residential units passed at appeal against the council's wishes has helped it reach the new figure of more than 9,000.

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