Jenrick approves plans for 189 homes on unallocated Cheshire site despite council's five year land supply

The housing secretary has approved plans for up to 189 homes on an unallocated 12-hectare site in Cheshire, despite the council being able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pic: Getty)
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pic: Getty)

Applicant Muller Property Group is behind the proposals to build up to 189 homes and associated development between Nantwich and the village of Stapeley.

As well as the 189 homes, the proposal includes a local centre, employment development, a primary school, public open space including new village green, play area and allotments.

A letter sent on behalf of the housing secretary Robert Jenrick published yesterday said the minister had backed an inspector's recommendation to approve the scheme.

The development has a long planning history. An original application for planning permission was submitted to Cheshire East Council (CEC) in 2012 and rejected in 2013.

Subsequent secretary of state decisions in 2015 and 2016 were both quashed by the High Court. A public inquiry on the latest proposals was held in 2018.

Setting out the applicant's case in support of their proposals, the inspector's report said: "At the time that these proposals were submitted almost 5.5 years ago, there was no Local Plan Strategy in place, and CEC at the time undoubtedly couldn't demonstrate a [five year housing land supply].

"As matters stand now, whilst the [local plan] is now in place, the next part of the local plan, which considers the merits of non-strategic allocations and which will review settlement boundaries, is still a long way from adoption."

The decision letter said that the council can now demonstrate a five-year housing land supply as required by the National Planning Policy Framework.

However, the secretary of state "has taken into account that nationally it is a government policy imperative to boost the supply of housing, and he considers that this benefit should be afforded significant weight", it added.

Jenrick also backed other conclusions of the inspector's report, including that the scheme's provision of 30 per cent affordable homes "is a tangible benefit and merits significant weight".

The minister also found that, despite not being allocated for development, the site is in "a sustainable location", with Nantwich and is one of the preferred locations for development in the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy, adopted in 2017 - a factor afforded medium weight.

The proposed investment in public realm and transport "would represent significant additional social benefits, not just to new occupiers of the development, but to those in the locality as well" - benefits also afforded medium weight.

Despite "a significant degree of apprehension among local residents over any increase in traffic numbers" arising from the development, the secretary of state determined that "such concerns must be afforded no more than very limited weight".

The appeal was allowed.

A separate appeal, related to highways, cycleways and footways associated with the development, was also approved,

Barristers Paul Tucker QC and Philip Robson of Kings Chambers, who acted for Muller Property Group, said: "Consent was granted despite the site being unallocated and the secretary of state concluding that the council could demonstrate a five-year supply.

"The decision is a fine example of where sensitive schemes in sustainable locations with the provision of clear social, economic and environmental benefits, can be enough to overcome conflict with the development plan."

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