A further four week consultation linked to Cheshire East Council's Local Plan started today, with 27 sites not previously in the public domain released for consideration for development.
The decision to consult was taken at a special meeting of the strategic planning board on Wednesday. Cheshire East Council said it was committed to a plan-led approach to development "so we can secure the jobs, homes and infrastructure that the borough needs for the future."
The local authority faced legal challenges from certain developers, especially house builders, in recent months over its refusal to allow consents for new housing. House builders say demand is not currently being met and the council is misguided to criticise private developers as opportunistic profiteers.
The sites listed in the 38-page consultation paper are those targeted by developers and land owners for schemes, mainly housing related. The property companies involved include Bruntwood, Gladman, Bovale, Haddon Properties and the Duchy of Lancaster. There are sites in Crewe, Knutsford, Mobberley, Middlewich, Weston, Willaston, Wilmslow, Sandbach and Shavington among others.
Cllr David Brown, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: "In order that we can be sure that we have properly considered all available options we are therefore bringing these sites to the public's attention to ensure that the plan is robust.
"This does not mean the council supports the development of these sites. We have reached no view at all on their merits at this stage and we are seeking people's views because they have not featured in any previous stage of the local plan. These sites have been proposed by developers to achieve their business objectives.
"In creating a new plan we need to be sure that we have considered all reasonable alternatives in terms of our strategy and potential development sites. We have to ensure that alternatives are considered and will have to pass sustainability and environmental tests before any are accepted as part of our wider consideration of the local plan.
"Earlier in the year we had extensive consultation on our new Local Plan – and in response received well over 10,000 comments back.
"Some of these have proposed alternative development sites that have featured neither in the Draft Local Plan or the preceding Town Strategies.
"We therefore need to bring these sites to public attention and find out what the public think of them.
"I should stress that the council is not positively proposing any of these sites for development at this stage – these are merely sites that have been presented to us as options.
"Rather than keep these under wraps we want to know what everyone thinks. Many of these sites, I believe will be unacceptable but there may be some hidden jewels. We have formed no view as to the merits of these sites – so please gives us your views."