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Clark dismisses Cheshire homes scheme against advice of inspector

Published: Thursday, 14th July 2016

Recommended conditions were variously "unreasonable", "difficult to enforce" or "not strictly relevant to planning policy"…

Please note that this story was published prior to the new Prime Minister’s cabinet reshuffle.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed an appeal involving a 184-home scheme proposed for a 6.5 hectare site some 2.2 kilometres from the centre of Winsford, Cheshire, against the advice of the inspector who held the recovered and reconsidered appeal.

The proposals, from developer Darnhall Estate, had been originally refused by Cheshire West and Chester Council but at the latest hearing the planning authority dropped its objection to the scheme earmarked for an area of open fields.

The Secretary of State, like the inspector, acknowledged that the scheme was contrary to the development plan although both agreed the council could demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

Clark, however, took exception to a number of the conditions proposed which covered training and employment, self-build and local procurement. The inspector had argued that these conditions added to the economic benefits of the scheme.

Clark thought otherwise. He concluded that the conditions would not satisfy all the relevant policy tests in the National Planning Policy Framework or in the associated guidance. He said the conditions were variously “unreasonable”, “difficult to enforce” or “not strictly relevant to planning policy”.

The Secretary of State said he gave substantial weight to the social benefits of the scheme, including the figure of 40 per cent affordable housing, and moderate weight to the economic benefits.

However the decision letter went to say that these did not outweigh “the clear conflict with the up to date development plan and the moderate harm to the environmental dimension of sustainable development from the adverse impact from the loss of open fields”.

View the decision letter.

Roger Milne