Doubts over land transfer deal block housing plan

Highway safety impacts and concerns over a planning obligation intended to allow expansion of a school have been cited in a decision to block plans for 104 homes in Cheshire.

200-005-694 (Image Credit: Cheshire East Council)
200-005-694 (Image Credit: Cheshire East Council)

One of the central issues related to the proposed access to the scheme. The inspector expressed concerns about the use of a residential street with on-street parking and the need to reduce the highway width to provide adequate visibility splays. She found it probable that despite parking bays being provided along the access road, on-street parking would continue to occur. This would mean that only one vehicle at a time would be able to proceed along the carriageway and if some drivers exercised poor judgement this might require them to reverse, adding to the hazards.

As the road was also used as a bus route, she observed that narrowing the carriageway in the manner proposed would not comply with Manual for Streets 2. It might also increase the level of on-street parking because it would be more difficult for some residents to reverse out of their drives, she opined. Overall, she concluded that the impact on the highway network would be severe.

Part of the development was proposed on land with consent for housing that was now expected to be required for expansion of a secondary school. The appellant submitted a section 106 obligation containing a deed to transfer other land within the appeal site to the school. But the inspector noted that the school did not appear to have any stake in this land, so the obligation failed to meet the statutory tests.

In any event, she noted, the transfer deed only agreed to reserve the other land within the appeal site for five years solely for use as playing fields by the school and not to pursue the existing permission on the land expected to be needed for its expansion. If the school wanted to pursue the transfer during the five years, the deed stated that the parties were to use reasonable endeavours to achieve this end. The inspector was concerned that this wording did not allow the council to enforce its provisions. In her view, it was a form of personal undertaking by the appellant and added little to the planning merits of the scheme.

Inspector: Diane Lewis; Inquiry

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