Housing Policy
Town Strategy
Appeal Rulings

Gorstyhills Planning Appeal Notes - October 2017

Ruling Available at




The good news is that the Council has won on the issue of a 5-year supply of housing (paragraphs 302 & 304).

The bad news is that if we ever don’t have a 5-year supply of housing then it will be open season for developers again (paragraph 284).




Cheshire East Council set out their interpretation of the Supreme Court case at para 128

The Inspector acknowledges this at para 283, then says at para 284 that

284.  Furthermore, the SC made it clear that this interpretation should not lead to the need for a legalistic exercise to decide whether individual policies do or do not come within the expression “relevant policies for the supply of housing”. The important question is not how to define individual policies but whether the result is a five year supply of deliverable housing in accordance with the objectives of paragraph 47. If there is a failure it does not matter if this is because of the policies which specifically deal with housing provision or because of other restrictive policies, the shortfall itself is the trigger for the operation of the tilted balance in paragraph 14.  Paragraph 14 is engaged in this case. It requires the granting of permission unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF as a whole, a balancing exercise to which I shall return.


The prematurity argument is accepted (para 298)


Does the Council have a 5-year housing land supply? YES

302.  Whilst the appellant suggests the Council’s inability to address the shortfall over the preferred 5 year period is a consideration that weighs in favour of allowing the appeal, the appropriate strategy for delivering sufficient housing to meet the housing requirement and any shortfall is a matter for the LPS examination. If the ‘Sedgepool 8’ approach is adopted, which now seems likely, then this will determine the annual requirement against which the five year housing land supply will be calculated and monitored. The inability of the Council to address the shortfall over the preferred 5 year period is therefore a consideration to which I afford minimal weight.


304.  It is considered that the comprehensive analysis conducted for the LPS examination is a more robust assessment having regard to all the elements of housing supply and delivery comprehensively. That is not to say that some of the slippage highlighted by the appellant on individual sites has not occurred since 31 March 2016 but all the data has not been reviewed to see if other sites are likely to perform better than anticipated during the five year period. This

appeal cannot test the robustness of the overall evidence in the same way as a local plan examination. Given that this has been considered relatively recently as part of the examination and the Inspector has indicated that the housing supply and delivery assessment appears to be acceptable, the calculation of the Council is preferred at this time.




As I said at the debate on the Cheshire East Local Plan,

“So will we have a 5 year housing land supply? Well Cllr David Brown did say at Cabinet last year that under the current government rules we would never have a 5-year housing land supply. And he was right (well almost) that it is the current government rules that are causing the problem. And it is a problem – the winners are the speculative developers and the lawyers. I say the lawyers because whether we have a 5.1 or maybe a 4.9 year housing land supply will undoubtedly be tested in the Courts.

But it gets worse - In order to maintain a 5-year housing land supply, 1800 houses a year will have to be built. If only 1600 houses are built in the next year, then we will no longer have a 5-year housing land supply. Who controls the number of houses built? The developers. And who benefits if there is no 5-year housing land supply? The developers. I hope you can all see what’s going to happen.”

“This is developer-led planning not plan-led development.”

If the Conservatives had accepted the Labour amendment of immediately starting work on a new Local Plan that did take into account the implications of HS2 and the correct air quality information, then we could be using the government’s new methodology for calculating housing need which gives an annual housing need of 1142 homes rather than 1800.

If the Conservatives had accepted the Labour amendment then we would have a robust 5-year housing land supply.


Under the Cheshire East Conservative Leadership, supported by Fiona Bruce MP, we have a precarious 5-year housing land supply and every chance of returning to a speculative developer free-for-all in 2018.

All this could be stopped by a clear ministerial statement that ““All policies within Local and Neighbourhood Plans that have passed a public consultation should carry significant weight even if there is no 5-year housing land supply”. Sadly, no such statement has been forthcoming from the Conservative Minister.