Landowners in West Cheshire are being urged to cash in during ‘a window of opportunity’ which means housing schemes are getting planning permission more easily than ever before.
National planning policy requires local planning authorities to identify and maintain a rolling five-year supply of deliverable land for housing.
At present, Cheshire West and Chester Council is lagging behind its target with only 3.26 years supply which means its current development plan is effectively void.
This means there is a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ at a time when the market is also recovering.
Planning consultant Stuart Thomas of Shrewsbury-based property firm Berrys, said the time was right for landowners in Cheshire to source and release sites for development.
He said in a press release: “The current lack of housing supply changes the balance of the material considerations in favour of boosting housing supply.
“We are already working with clients delivering successful development planning outcomes and we see this requirement for development land in the area continuing.
“This is a unique opportunity for farmers and landowners to maximise property values and we can assist them in selecting the best sites and with our in-house team of specialist planners, surveyors and architectural technicians we can see them through the planning process from start to finish.”
“There is a presumption in favour of sustainable development,” he added. “Refusals of applications solely on the grounds that they are contrary to Development Plan housing policy by being partly outside of the development boundary would be unlikely to be sustained at appeal.”
Plans for 100 new homes on open countryside in Tarporley have been revealed just six months after similar plans were approved.
This week proposals have been unveiled to build a large scale housing estate, made up of detached, semi-detached and mews style dwellings on land at Utkinton Road, Utkinton.
The proposal which could see up to 100 homes built on the 9.78 acre greenfield site, have been submitted to Cheshire West and Chester by Hollins Strategic Land.
These fresh plans come less than six months after a shock Government decision saw another another 100 home scheme approved on Nantwich Road, Tarporley, despite a two year fight from residents to throw out the plans.
Last September, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles approved the controversial proposals by Fox Strategic Land and Property, overturning a planning inspector’s refusal of the scheme.
But developers of this large estate off Rode Street and the A49, claim the development will “seamlessly integrate” into the existing village, with its green spaces and easy access to transport links creating a “strong sense of community”.
So far no comments have been made by residents living in the village concerning the plans which can be viewed on the CWaC planning portal under application number 14/00841/OUT.
Approval has been given to more than 100 homes, helping the council meet its housing target but raising fears there are no services to support the new ‘village’.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee granted outline planning permission to applicants Wright Manley for 103 homes and a shop to be built on the site of Beeston Cattle Market.
Planning officer Bethan Evans, who recommended approval, concluded on balance the scheme was sustainable and would contribute towards helping the council being able to demonstrate it can deliver five years’ housing supply as required by law.
Twenty per cent of the homes on site would be affordable with a clawback mechanism providing a sum to the equivalent of 35% if profits allow on a contaminated site which could prove costly to clear up.
Ward councillor Mike Jones argued an earlier decision to give approval for 20 homes on an adjacent site should not set a precedent and asked the application be refused, saying: “It is a major scheme and it is over 100%the size of Beeston, so this is a dramatic change to the rural area.
“And indeed the comments I have received is that there is a strong feeling from members of the community that this is a village in its own right.”
However Cllr Norman Wright said: “I actually welcome this proposition. The site will become derelict and will become an eyesore in the beautiful landscape that surrounds the area.”
Cllr Margaret Parker agreed and proposed approval: “In our draft Local Plan we have stated that we wish to use brownfield sites when they are available.”
Councillors unanimously backed duplicate plans for a 140-dwelling village housing scheme because they had no choice.
Gladman Developments recently won its appeal against Cheshire West and Chester Council over a similar homes plan targeting green fields between Chester Road and Well Street, Malpas.
But Gladman had already submitted the duplicate scheme although it included just 30% affordable homes compared with 35% in the original plan.
In addition, a previous offer of ï¿½76,000 towards improving health facilities was no longer available.
Cllr Ann Wright, who declared an interest because she lives near the site, said in a statement read to the strategic planning committee: “I fully recognise the difficult position the committee finds itself in when considering this application in the light of the recent appeal decision.
“But regardless of the inspector’s decision, I and the community of Malpas still believe this application is inappropriate and opportunistic.”
She said with other schemes the neighbourhood had been able to work with developers to bring forward applications with their blessing, but ‘sadly’ not in this case.
Cllr Wright added: “I am disappointed to see the reduction in the percentage of affordable houses proposed as there was a great deal of discussion at the inquiry during which Gladman argued there was a huge need for affordable houses and that the proposed 35% weighed heavily in favour of their application.”
Committee member Cllr Angela Claydon, who moved approval in line with the planning officer’s recommendation, said: “Here we all are sat here again looking at the same, essentially, apart from a few odd tweaks, application.
“We could debate it for the next two hours but actually there is only one vote we can take, so I move the recommendation.”
Fears over infrastructure provision
More homes have been given the green light in Malpas despite concerns a massive wave of new builds will put pressure on infrastructure.
To date around 340 new homes have been approved in the village, way over Cheshire West and Chester’s recommended 200 home quota in the authority’s local plan.
But on Tuesday (March 4) CWaC’s planning committee unanimously approved plans for 19 new homes despite concerns on the cumulative impact of the wave of new builds on Malpas’ infrastructure.
The 19 homes, including six affordable homes will be built at land at Mount View Farm, Wrexham Road in Malpas.
Chairman of Malpas Parish Council John Webb urged the council to look at the impact of transport in the village, which has no trains, and a sub-standard bus service.
“We recognise this is small scale. There is a big but around, because it is on the wrong side of the village. The consequence is the traffic must come through the village,” said Mr Webb.
“We are deeply concerned about the infrastructure and the cumulative impact on the village. If you approve this that would be 359, so we have to look at the infrastructure.”
“We do not have good public transport, we have no trains or taxis.”
Agent for the developer Patrick Lomax said the homes were “well designed” and would “benefit the area”.
Controversial plans to build 68 homes in Tattenhall were unanimously refused as they would ‘overburden’ the village.
Redrow Homes’ plans to build family homes on land to the rear of Harding Avenue were met with fears of overcrowding, highway safety and concerns the estate would destroy the character of the village.
During a packed meeting on Tuesday (March 4) members of Cheshire West and Chester planning committee unanimously refused outline plans for the 68 family homes, including 28 affordable properties.
Objectors feared if approved the estate would set a ‘dreadful precedent’ for developers with affordable houses bunched together on the site, and a lack of green space in the plans made it seem ‘over intensive’.
Councill leader and councillor for Tattenhall, Cllr Mike Jones (Con), said the quality of the design was simply ‘not good enough’, saying the site was “too small” for what Redrow were proposing.
“Clearly as a company they have not learned from mistakes of the past, where they have built estates throughout this borough which are far too dense, and this is in a rural village community setting,” said Cllr Jones.
“There are too many houses and not enough green space, poor design and it is not in keeping with the core village.”
Cllr Jones said there was a need for one bedroom homes in Tattenhall for young people, but this issue had not been addressed by the developers.
Outline permission for Redrow to build 70 homes on the site was granted in May 2013, but this outline application was refused on grounds of its density and the grouping of affordable housing.
Councillors voted to refuse the application unanimously after saying it would not contribute to the character of Tattenhall village.