Developer Muller has heavily criticised Cheshire East over its housing delivery numbers, three months after the company lost a legal challenge to the council’s Local Plan.
The developer has claimed a quarter of the homes granted planning permission in Cheshire East were actually approved on appeal.
While the council has hailed the fact it has granted planning permission for around 20,400 new homes since 2010, Muller said 21% of these were actually granted on appeal.
The developer argued the council had used “valuable internal resources and spent millions of pounds on lawyers, legal counsel, and expert witnesses fighting against the applications”.
Muller also hit back at the council’s claims that 10 major sites had “recorded housing completions more than 50% higher than expected”, arguing that five of these 10 sites had actually been initially refused permission by Cheshire East, and were only approved on appeal.
Colin Muller, chief executive of Muller Property Group, said the council’s claims it had delivered 2,000 homes in the last financial year were “not exactly an achievement”.
“Building houses doesn’t happen overnight, but they will never get built if permission is refused in the first place,” he said.
“For the council to claim that they granted permission for 20,441 homes is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
“If they had had their way there would be at least 4,300 fewer homes in the pipeline, and the housing situation in east Cheshire would be in an even worse state than it is now.”
Muller’s intervention comes around three months after it lost a legal battle against the council over Cheshire East’s Local Plan.
Muller Strategic Properties had argued irregularities with the council’s air quality data affected the selection of sites and distribution of development in the plan, but a High Court judge ruled that the developer had no arguable case, and concluded the shortcomings in air quality data did not affect the substance of the Local Plan.
The Local Plan was formally adopted in July 2017, but shortly afterwards the council revealed that there were irregularities with its air quality data between 2012 and 2014, after discovering that the results had been manipulated to make certain areas appear cleaner in a “deliberate and systematic” way. An investigation by Cheshire Constabulary is currently ongoing.
Cheshire East last month adopted a new housing strategy that sets out a requirement of 355 affordable homes each year until 2023.
The borough said it had delivered more affordable homes over the last three years than its future targets, delivering 1,400 houses in the period, with 978 of those being social or affordable rented homes, and brought 243 empty homes back into use.
Cheshire East has been approached for comment.