Cheshire council fails in effort to overturn homes approved on appeal

A Cheshire council has suffered defeat in its High Court fight to block a new housing development after a judge ruled that an inspector's reasoning in allowing the homes on appeal was 'adequate and intelligible'.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Local landowner George Barlow wants to build 10 homes on a field near the village of Holmes Chapel, but faced resistance from Cheshire East Council.

Cheshire East Council pointed to local policies that restrict housing developments in open countryside, outside existing settlement boundaries.

It already has in place a five-year supply of housing land and the development was not needed, it argued.

But, despite those objections, a planning inspector decided in August last year that planning permission should be granted.

He pointed to the social and economic benefits of the scheme - particularly the provision of extra affordable housing in the area.

He accepted that the project would "inevitably have an adverse impact on the character of the countryside".

But that would be "limited" and "localised", due to the low-density of the development, which would be shielded by planting and landscaping, he ruled.

The character and appearance of the area would inevitably be changed in the future anyway, he said.

That was because planning consent had already been granted for "substantial mixed-use development" on nearby sites.

Cheshire East challenged the inspector's decision at London's High Court, claiming he failed to give sufficient weight to local planning policies.

But, dismissing the council's case, Mrs Justice Lang said it was "abundantly clear" that the inspector had proper regard to the local development plan.

But she said that he was entitled to conclude that additional housing in the area, especially affordable housing, would yield a planning benefit.

The inspector had carried out a careful balancing exercise and was entitled to form his own views, the judge added.

"Ultimately, the inspector disagreed with the council's assessment of the weight to be accorded to the planning harm and benefits.

"However, he was entitled to exercise his own planning judgment on these issues, and the court will not interfere with it."

The judge concluded: "In my view, the inspector's reasons for his conclusions were adequate and intelligible."

Cheshire East was ordered to contribute £6,600 towards the legal costs of the case.

Cheshire East Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/4504/2017

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