Rope Lane Shavington

Hourigan Connolly wins on appeal with Cheshire housing

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“As a consequence, those polices which relate to the supply of housing should be deemed out of date.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.”

Your Comments

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Heck of a headline! Almost as if Hourigan Connolly wrote the article themselves? Whilst credit should go there way, it is the planning credentials of the site itself, and the view of the Inspector that ‘won’ the appeal, not a masterstroke by the Consultants.

By Big Vic

If only you were right Big Vic. Having conducted appeals for both sides, Inspectors are unpredictable and have far to much power. Their decisions should be fettered to adjudicate on only the areas of disagreement between appellant and LA. Sadly it does feel like a victory if the appeal goes your way.

By Under funded LAs

As a consultant myself who has advised both public and private sector clients I’ve got to take issue with some of these comments. A good site is a good site but it takes a good Planner to identify the site, stick their necks out and advise a client to spend what might end up being hundreds of thousands of pounds promoting it, articulate the arguments in favour of the scheme and when it’s refused (often because of local politics and nothing to do with its planning merits) try and persuade an Inspector or indeed the Secretary of State that planning permission ought to be granted. That’s why it takes 4 years to do a Planning degree, at least a further two years to become a member of the RTPI and many years more to have the experience to effectively promote land in an increasingly beaurcratic system. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

By Noeyedeer

End of the day, and application is only as good as the site. Lets not get too much smoke up our backsides here: town planning isn’t rocket science.

“If it was that easy, everyone would do it” – well the need to do a degree in the first place is a huge barrier to entry for social reasons. Also, town planning isn’t necessarily an obvious career choice to many 17 year olds. Its a job some of us end up in, and pays reasonably well because of the huge sums at steak to developers – but lets not overegg the amount of value to the process we bring as planners. You can’t polish a turd of a site.

By Town Planner

Well that escalated quickly………… As noted, I have no doubt HC did a great job, as I’m sure did the Landscape Consultant etc etc. I just took umbrage with the headline. Regarding Under Funded LAs point though, I think Inspectors must assess appeals afresh, to ensure fairness to all parties – not just LPAs and Consultants.

By Big Vic