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Council forgot to tell its leader about housing plan in West Cheshire

THE number of homes at a Cheshire hamlet is growing by 60% based on the decision of an unelected planning officer because the local councillor was not kept informed.

THE number of homes at a Cheshire hamlet is growing by 60% based on the decision of an unelected planning officer because the local councillor was not kept informed.

Cheshire West and Chester Council failed to notify its leader Cllr Mike Jones about a Morris Homes application for 33 houses at The Granary, Chapel Lane, Milton Green, in March 2010.

And Cllr Jones was ‘amazed’ when it was given permission by an officer because he regarded it as ‘totally inappropriate’.

Last week, developers promoting a 65-homes plan on the adjacent council depot and green fields cited the approval as a reason why its scheme should also be allowed but the application was narrowly rejected by councillors.

An officer’s report indicated the Marbury Properties scheme would be unsustainable due to the lack of amenities. This was regarded as inconsistent by some members given concerns about the inadequate infrastructure were dismissed in the case of the Granary site.

The upmarket housing estate by Morris Homes is now being built on a former light industrial site at what was once a hamlet of about 50 homes.

Cllr Jones recently told Handley Parish Council: “It’s probably worth a bit of history because we fought very hard against housing, twice, and we won twice and at appeal as well.

“I think the application was put in on the demise of the city council and for some reason I wasn’t notified about it and nobody rang me up about it so there was no delegated power to be removed from it. I was amazed when I saw it had got permission because it’s totally inappropriate.”

Handley Parish Council chairman Ron Stockton said: “It does concern me there has been a breakdown in the planning system. Who knows whether the outcome would have been the same if the plans had gone before the committee. We will never know.”

Council press officer Ian Callister confirmed there was ‘no record’ of an e-mail notification having been sent to Cllr Jones.

He added: “The reason for this is unclear but I have confirmed that we did have problems around that time due to changing IT systems to standardise the service across the borough.”

Cllr Jones was unable to take part in the discussions about the Marbury Properties scheme having declared a prejudicial in interest because he is friends with the owners of Bell Developments who have an involvement with the project. He passed responsibility for representing the community on to neighbouring Malpas councillor Ann Wright.

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