White Moss Quarry
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Housing Policy
Town Strategy
Appeal Rulings

An application to build an additional 400 houses on White Moss Quarry near Alsager was refused by Cheshire East Council. The developers appealed. The Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal in November 2017.

 

However, the appeal ruling includes some worrying comments that suggest future appeals may be upheld because Cheshire East Council does not have a 5-year housing land supply. Under the rules introduced by the coalition government (National Planning Policy Framework) if a local authority does not have a 5-year housing land supply then a ‘tilted balance’ applies and planning permission must be granted unless the local authority can prove that the harmful effects of the development would ‘significantly and demonstrably’ outweigh the benefits.

 

The Inspector considered whether Cheshire East Council had a 5-year housing land supply and said,

“To my mind, even though the calculated supply includes a 20% buffer, the 5-year supply should be considered to be marginal and, potentially, in doubt.”

 

“I conclude that it would be both cautious and prudent in the circumstances of this case to regard policies for the supply of housing to be considered not up-to-date, thus engaging the tilted balance of paragraph 14 of the Framework.”  

 

“Paragraph 14 of the Framework indicates that where relevant policies in the development plan are out of date, in this case arising from the marginality of a sufficiently convincing 5-year housing land supply, planning permission should be granted unless any adverse effects of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework as a whole.”

 

In the case of White Moss Quarry, the Inspector noted that at least 300 of the houses applied for would not be built within 5 years and so would not contribute to the 5-year housing land supply. In this case the Inspector rejected the application. The worry now is that any speculative developments that are able to demonstrate that the houses would be built within 5 years will be granted permission even if they breach the Local Plan and any Neighbourhood Plan.

 

 

https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase.aspx?CaseID=3166469

 

para 61

This would, at best, provide the Council with headroom of 200 units; and a supply of 5.07 years.11  At worst, there would be a deficit of 130 dwellings and a supply of 4.96 years.12 To my mind, even though the calculated supply includes a 20% buffer, the 5-year supply should be considered to be marginal and, potentially, in doubt.   

 

para 62

Therefore, on the basis of the fact specific evidence before me, and the illustrated risk of available housing supply falling slightly below the 5-year requirement, I cannot determine with confidence that a marginal best case excess amounts to a sufficiently robust supply of specific deliverable sites.  Given the importance of the 5-year baseline, and the aim to significantly boost the supply of housing, I conclude that it would be both cautious and prudent in the circumstances of this case to regard policies for the supply of housing to be considered not up-to-date, thus engaging the tilted balance of paragraph 14 of the Framework.  

 

Para 98

In the final balance, the conflict with Policies PG 2 and PG 7 of the recently adopted CELPS, and also with Policies PG 6 and RES.5, as described above, provides the totality of the planning harm.  Paragraph 14 of the Framework indicates that where relevant policies in the development plan are out of date, in this case arising from the marginality of a sufficiently convincing    5-year housing land supply, planning permission should be granted unless any adverse effects of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework as a whole.

Para 99

The totality of the benefits, even with the significant weight to be attached to affordable housing, would carry the penalty of a considerable number of additional houses which would not contribute to the immediate 5-year supply.  Overall, I consider that the proposal would be in serious tension with the recently adopted CELPS, and with the development plan as a whole. 

The resultant conflict would, by itself, significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposed development.  It follows that the proposal would not be sustainable development as defined in the Framework.