CWAC resists Local Plan opportunism

Three applications for a total of 317 homes on greenfield land in the village of Tattenhall have been rejected by Cheshire West & Chester Council on sustainability grounds despite the council admitting its planning policy is out of date.

The applications, all of which were for outline planning permission, were:

  • 100 units proposed by Taylor Wimpey, with car parking, open space, landscaping, off-site highway works and ecological mitigation works to rear of Adari in Chester Road
  • 137 units by Ashley Wall, open space and associated works at land to rear of 15-18 Greenlands
  • 70 units by Redrow Homes North West, open space and access at land to rear of 2-36 Harding Avenue

Cllr Mike Jones, leader of CWAC, said: "Developers are seeking to exploit a window in the system driven by the old and out of date policies of the Regional Spatial Strategy using pre-2003 data, and before the new system comes fully into place.

"Although the Local Plan is out of date, we must not abandon common sense. It is wrong that such a disproportionate burden should fall on Tattenhall, on a first come, first served basis.

"I urge you to support the residents of Tattenhall and those other communities in our borough that are being subjected to these reckless and speculative developments."

National planning policy now requires local authorities to carry five years' housing land supply identified in a Local Plan, which CWAC, along with many councils, does not have.

The applications were opposed by members of the parish council and local residents who spoke to the meeting.

Members of CWAC's planning committee overruled the advice of officers who had recommended approval of the schemes. The committee resolved that the adverse impacts on the landscape, character and appearance of the village and surrounding rural area carried greater weight than the benefits of each development.

However, an application for the redevelopment of the Oak Room site with 31 homes, a pub, shop and post office was approved. The applicant was Blackham Developments, which has tried and failed to secure planning consent previously, losing a public inquiry in 2011 when the inspector decided the site was not central enough to meet planning policy.

Planning committee chairman Cllr Jill Houlbrook described the four rejected schemes as "surrounding Tattenhall with one great big housing estate". The committee agreed a motion asking the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles, to personally determine any appeals that may be lodged against its refusal to grant permission.

Jones told the meeting that two further schemes yet to be determined together with an approved extra care development would take the additional housing total to 460.

"Tattenhall is pro-growth, as evidence shows," Jones added. "But to swamp one village with 460 dwellings – a 70% increase – in a market so poor due to lack of cash available for buyers is madness.

"There is little evidence these four applications can be delivered within a five-year timescale to contribute to the borough's housing supply target – ironically the only basis that approval is recommended.

"They are of such a scale that they do not represent sustainable development. I believe they would cause significant harm to our vibrant village.

"They would have a substantial impact on the landscape, especially on the gateways into Tattenhall, effectively developing an urban appearance for a rural village. Two of the applications are adjacent to a conservation area.

"I believe we have a sound basis for refusal of these applications that in my view is defendable at any future inquiry."

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