Cheshire East Plan representations: the work starts now

On Tuesday, Cheshire East Council closed its consultation on its revised Local Plan. This round of consultation comes on the back of a suspension of the examination of the previous version to allow for further research to be carried out. The revised version includes a proposed 33% increase in the number of houses for the borough.

How to tackle the issue of a requirement for more housing is one that other councils across the North West will be following closely. For Cheshire East, the proposals are to increase the density of development of those areas already identified and to release some Green Belt land around Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Poynton, and Alsager. The release of Green Belt is not a decision that any local authority takes likely, but it is encouraging to see that Cheshire East recognises the need for a reassessment of these sites and has invited representations on this process.

For the developers who have submitted their representations, the next few months will be a waiting game until examination of the plan resumes in September. From a consultation and engagement point of view, however, there is plenty of work that can and should be done in the meantime with the local communities around the sites identified for release.

To begin with, the areas in question are inhabited by relatively wealthy and engaged local residents who are likely to take an active and mobilised interest in these sites. Many of these residents will not want to see Green Belt land released and, as such, developers should be working now to open dialogues with these communities on their plans and what they would mean if brought forward. Failure to engage at this stage will lead to an information void and create the potential for the spread of misinformation about any potential development plans, which will be unhelpful when it comes to taking a scheme through the planning process.

Another key point for developers to consider is the number of competing representations that will have been made in response to the consultation on the Plan, and therefore the importance of presenting a scheme that has a great number of benefits. Amongst these benefits, will be those schemes that are considered to be deliverable within a short timeframe. As such, those sites which developers have already started engaging local communities on, and can therefore move quickly on in terms of bringing forward a planning application, are likely to stand in good stead.

At Remarkable, we specialise in providing communications support to developers on getting their sites through the allocation and planning processes, with a track record of success. If you have scheme you might need our help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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