The Communities Secretary has found in favour of Cheshire East Council in a planning appeal, agreeing that a proposed residential development by Gladman would interfere with sensors at the nearby Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Gladman had applied to the council to build 119 homes on a 17-acre plot off Main Road in Goostrey. Jodrell Bank objected to the proposals, and Cheshire East planning officers agreed that noise from the development would affect the work of the observatory.
In its decision letter, the office of the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid agreed that “there would at least be some additional interference resulting from the proposed development”.
While he acknowledged Cheshire East’s “significant” issue with a housing land supply shortfall, the secretary described it as “a local issue”, outweighed by the fact that “Jodrell Bank Observatory is a facility of international importance, such that its protection from the identified harm transcends the current housing land supply circumstances. He considers that the harm to the efficiency of the Radio Telescope carries substantial weight against the proposal.”
Jodrell Bank Observatory is the home of the Lovell Telescope and operates e-MERLIN, the UK’s national radio astronomy facility comprising seven radio telescopes spread over 217 km.
Earlier this month, the construction of 201 homes by Redrow in Congleton was approved by Cheshire East’s planning committee, despite also receiving an objection from Jodrell Bank, which said that it “opposes development in the area as a general principle”.
Gary Halman, managing director of How Planning and advisor to several developers bringing forward schemes in Cheshire East, said: “The decision on Gladman’s appeal for 119 homes in Goostrey, Cheshire East was dismissed by the Secretary of State despite the lack of a five year supply of houses, which elsewhere in the borough has generally been enough to win permission on many green field sites. Here however the circumstances were very specific, as this is a site within the consultation zone for Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope and the impact of new homes on the efficiency of this world class radio astronomy facility was a critical issue.
“The inspector’s report stresses that this conclusion was reached on the circumstances of the case and that it doesn’t automatically follow that other sites in Goostrey or indeed elsewhere in the consultation zone, which is extensive across this part of Cheshire East, will be deemed unacceptable. In short, it can’t be read as sterilising all development in towns where growth is planned and needed. But it will certainly be an added hurdle to overcome and the onus will be firmly on developers and applicants to demonstrate their proposals are acceptable where these lie within the zone, and where Jodrell Bank’s influence is now all the more powerful.”