Rural housing schemes approved by Cheshire East

Mosaic Town Planning has secured approval in principle from Cheshire East Council for two housing schemes on greenfield sites.

Permission was granted for 14 homes in Forge Lane, Congleton. Mosaic director Paul Williams told the planning committee this would be a modest proposal involving organic growth, rather than a significant urban extension. The 100% affordable scheme will benefit from £350,000 of funding through the Homes & Communities Agency's 2011/15 Affordable Homes Programme. It will be constructed by MCI Developments and then acquired and managed by Great Places for affordable rent.

The second scheme in the village of Smallwood uses an alternative funding mechanism. Initially it was expected that a contribution made for off-site affordable housing at another site would finance the development. However, it became clear this would not cover the costs of providing an electricity supply.

Developer MCI therefore made up the shortfall using additional flexibility introduced by the National Planning Policy Framework. Such 'rural exception' sites have only been traditionally allowed for 100% affordable housing and to be occupied by local people with an identified need. However, NPPF now provides for small numbers of market homes to cross-subsidise the affordable units, meaning that schemes can delivered without grant funding.

In this case, three houses for sale on the open market will cover the abnormal infrastructure costs to deliver 11 affordable units. Plus Dane will manage the affordable units for rental and shared ownership.

Both proposals received unanimous support from councillors despite the local sensitivities which often surround greenfield exception sites.

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