Campaigners are begging the council to defend their community by seeking a judicial review after a planning inspector gave the go-ahead for 140 homes saying it will ‘kill’ the community.
He approved Gladman Developments’ greenfield site between Chester Road and Well Street, Malpas, despite accepting the harm to the countryside and conservation area plus the loss of prime agricultural land.
Inspector Mr J Sargent said it was Cheshire West and Chester Council’s failure to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites, as required by law, that meant its local development plan was invalid.
Simon Redshaw, chairman of Action for Greenfields, said various schemes meant a total of 400 new homes were now coming to a 700-home village in a ‘nightmare’ scenario.
Already full local schools would not cope with the extra children and the roads would not handle such an increase in traffic. House prices would plummet because of the massive over supply of homes.
He said: “Our case fell apart because of CWaC not having sufficient evidence to back what they believed was a seven year housing supply and it’s going to destroy a community.
“It’s a disaster and the council must address it and must go for a judicial review on this site,” said Mr Redshaw, who described himself as “shocked and dismayed”. “We are upset, we are scared. This community will be scarred forever,” he added.
Planning inspector J Sargent said in his report: “I conclude there would be harm caused to the countryside and resulting from the loss of BMV (high quality agricultural) land. The scheme would also cause less than substantial harm to the Malpas Conservation Area and would fail to preserve its character and appearance.”
But he added: “However, given the accepted shortfall in 5-year housing land supply in CWaC and as this is a sustainable location, the collective harm from these issues does not demonstrably and significantly outweigh the benefit of providing 140 dwellings.”
Malpas parish councillor Charles Higgie said: “Are far as I am concerned, the fight goes on. The phrase Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton coined a few months ago ‘Malpas has had its fair share of housing and new development’ are more true than ever, and we must try and stand firm against yet more green fields being lost to developers, and to make sure that developments are as acceptable as possible.
“We need to continue to push for as much of the community development money to come back to Malpas and not squandered elsewhere in the borough. There is still a lot of work to be done!”
Before Christmas council leader Mike Jones warned that Cheshire West was vulnerable to developers because his authority now accepts it does not have a five year supply of housing after all.
The council believed it had passed that threshold after taking into consideration the lower numbers of new houses needed according to its draft local plan but this type of approach was challenged by the Secretary of State in relation to applications in Oxfordshire.