The planning consultancy, representing Country and Coastal Developments, has won its appeal against the refusal of outline planning permission by Cheshire East Council for 29 houses in Shavington, a village south of Crewe.
The Shavington Villa site, accessed from Rope Lane, is located within the open countryside, within the designated ‘green gap’ for the area. Following a site visit in March 2017, the scheme, designed by Northwich architect Barrie Newcombe Associates, was refused consent at April 2017’s planning committee.
Hourigan Connolly, which was also planning consultant on the application, lodged an appeal in October, and Planning Inspector Thomas Hatfield undertook a site visit in December. He outlined three main issues to consider: the five-year supply, the effect of the project on countryside and landscape; and the effect on the strategic green gap.
The Inspector has now ruled that the appeal should be allowed, highlighting the separate case, reported in November, where an Inspector said that Cheshire East’s five-year supply position should be considered marginal, thus engaging the ‘tilted balance’ outlined in the National Planning Policy Framework.
Hatfield concluded his verdict: “On balance, and taking all matters into consideration, I conclude that the adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the development. The development would therefore comprise sustainable development as set out in the Framework. In this case, the conflict with the development plan would be outweighed by other material considerations.”
Daniel Connolly, executive director of Hourigan Connolly, said: “The Inspector agreed that the site comprises infilling of the settlement edge. Though the development of site was contrary to the provisions of the Development Plan, he also agreed that the five-year supply is currently marginal and therefore a ‘tilted balance’ should be applied.
“As a consequence, those polices which relate to the supply of housing should be deemed out of date. The grant of planning permission will result in the delivery of 29 high quality family homes in a popular and desirable location, making a positive contribution to the local community, and delivering open market and affordable housing in a sustainable location.”
In a statement to Place North West, Cheshire East said it was “very disappointed in the outcome” of the appeal.
A spokesperson said: “The whole purpose of this policy is to ensure long-term protection of vital gaps between settlements. If important areas are eroded one field at a time, then before long, the gap will disappear.
“Given that other inspectors have considered the housing shortfall at no more than 200 dwellings, it is very regrettable that homes have been permitted in such a sensitive location.
“In terms of housing supply, there are more than 20,000 committed housing units across the borough and 2,500 acres of land allocated in the adopted Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy. We believe this is quite sufficient to meet a five-year supply target of just under 15,000 homes.
“Recent appeal decisions have dwelt on the evidence of past housing delivery, whereas recent evidence shows that alongside the council allocating much more land, the house building industry is also responding much more quickly to the housing challenge.”