Open letter from Cllr Michael Jones, Cheshire East Council

Dear Sir,

There is nothing more important than protecting the green spaces of Cheshire East. I feel every appeal decision, and I have to say that national priorities for housing need are making Cheshire East vulnerable to speculative housing as a presumption in favour of growth overrules many of our committees' planning refusals.

Since March 2013, when I first announced we had a five-year supply of housing land, I have followed every appeal. We have hired the best barristers and our planning committees have given approvals for many thousands of houses to be built.

So, let me make it clear: UKIP and Labour don't lie, they merely don't tell you the whole truth.

Recently, Labour said we did not respond to the cross party commons committee inquiry into the National Planning Policy Framework. This is true – but we challenged the NPPF the day after it was issued and we have challenged it 11 times since in meetings with the Secretary of State and the Ministers for planning and housing.

The whole truth is that houses should not be about politics – and we have more appeals by developers against our planning decisions than anywhere else I know.

Some local councillors for Crewe say officers disagree with the council leadership saying we do now have five-years housing supply – yet again, they are not telling the whole truth. I can tell you the latest position by officers – including new consultants we have on board to advise us specifically on the five-year housing supply – is far stronger than any local councillor could deliver.

So let me make it clear to Labour, UKIP and the developers: we will not support unwanted, unplanned and unsustainable development.

Moreover, I am happy to tell you that, since March 2013, planning permission has been granted for 7,367 homes and we also have up to 2,500 outstanding permissions, which are subject to completion of legal agreements. On top of that we have applications for more than 2,000 homes, which are due before planning committees in the near future. These numbers do not include new National Planning Policy Framework guidance on including student accommodation and care home accommodation.

We will also be driving forward progress on development of our strategic sites and those other sites identified in the Local Plan as suitable for development.

So I say to Labour and UKIP: stop talking half-truths and support our five-year housing supply and support your communities by backing our Local Plan – and get on board with our 'residents first' neighbourhood plans, which we have introduced and are moving forward with several parishes.

Other parties want to make planning and housing a political football – but we want to take the politics out of housing and put our residents first.

Another way the Council is supporting sustainable housing growth is by focussing on developing brownfield sites – with its 'brownfield first' policy.

Indeed, we are writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask him to make Macclesfield as a brownfield 'exemplar' – highlighting it to other authorities as a model of good practice for using brownfield sites first for development.

Our desire to have Macclesfield become a designated 'brownfield exemplar' is clearly to enhance the viability of developing brownfield sites and allow the Council to remove sites from the greenbelt.

This is something everyone should support.

Yours faithfully,

Councillor Michael Jones

Leader of Cheshire East Council

Your Comments

Won’t the brownfield first policy kennel the "many" into urban areas to protect the "few" in the so called "Green Belt" ? If green spaces are important then there would be greater value to more people in converting brown field spaces into more green spaces. The Green Belt is a myth: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/greenbelt-myth-is-the-driving-force-behind-housing-crisis/ As for the impact on wildlife the unpalatable truth for the Green Belt sentimentalists is that suburban gardens support more wildlife and bio-diversity than swathes of mono-culture which often predominate green belts. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1211748/Average-gardens-buzzing-wildlife-compared-desert-like-farmland.html

By Taalib

Cllr Jones, Unless these are typographical errors from Place, then I suspect your copy writing is as poor as your plan making, here are two examples: 1) "Some local Councillors for Crewe say officers disagree with the council leadership saying we do now have five-years housing supply – yet again, they are not telling the whole truth." surely you mean "not" instead of "now", or maybe if what you have written is correct, they aren’t telling the truth? 2)"Our desire to have Macclesfield become a designated ‘brownfield exemplar’ is clearly to enhance the viability of developing brownfield sites and allow the Council to remove sites from the greenbelt." I see that the council is removing sites from the green belt, specifically CEC’s own land at Handforth East- are you saying that brownfield exemplar development in Macc will stop development in the green belt, does this apply to Handforth? Can I respectfully suggest before you go grandstanding again you take some advice before you go into print. Or is it too difficult to listen to advice in any line of your bureaucratic life?

By Jolly Roger

I do welcome Cllr Michael Jones’s robust assurance that we have a 5 year housing land supply, but at the Strategic Planning Board meeting on Wednesday the head of Cheshire East Council planning said, "We couldn’t say that our housing land supply is strong." . He then argued in favour of allowing 250 new houses on the Capricorn Business Park site in Sandbach, despite the Local Plan saying that the ste was for employment and the 5 year housing land supply saying no more than 150 houses on the wider site CS24. My point is that Cllr Michael Jones’s optimism is not shared by senior council officers. Therefore it is no wonder that we keep losing appeals. Rather than hiring top barristers to fight (and lose) appeals, or blaming other political parties, we need to make sure that Cheshire East Council planning staff believe in and support the policies that they are being asked to implement.

By Cllr Sam Corcoran

How many of the 7,367 granted permissions were not opposed?

By Moldy

Please please Cllr Jones stick to the “Cheshire East is open to business” rhetoric – we are so luck so many want to invest and should not be criticizing them for that!

By Observer

Investment in ugly sprawl is not a good investment for the health of our towns and cities, nor is it good for the tax payer who end up having to foot much of the bill for the infrastructure.

By East

last time I looked you didn’t seem to be winning many (sorry my mistake….any) appeals as far as the 5yr housing land supply position is concerned Mr President. The same seems to go for all these legal challenges you keep issuing in the High Court, not had much luck with those either have we. You keep carping on about resisting unplanned development; what you really mean is that you want to resist proposals that aren’t in YOUR Plan, and how many of those sites in YOUR Plan are subject to objection and how long is it going to take to get through the Examination to hear all the complaints and how much longer must we endure your inconsistent bleating? Answers on a post card or preferably a ballot paper. X

By cheese monger

Do we honestly pay your wages ?

By Mr E

Perhaps more money should have been put into strategic planning in the first place to progress the local plan quicker, rather than hiring the best barristers to fight appeals in the absence of plannning policy based on sound evidence. Cutting planning staff was a false economy and now residents are literally paying the price (to the best barristers).

By a local

Subscribe to our newsletter