The examination of Cheshire East Council’s Site Allocations and Development Policies Document (SADPD) has commenced, having been submitted for examination on 29 April 2021. The independent examination will assess whether the plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and if it is sound. The SADPD forms the second part of the Council’s Local Plan, adding greater detail to the overarching Local Plan Strategy (LPS) which was adopted in July 2017. If the LPS is anything to go by, adoption of the SADPD is unlikely to be a straightforward affair. More than 2,700 people and organisations voiced their views on the SADPD. Some of the main issues/objections raised in the representations to date include:
- Housing land supply is inadequate and needs to be boosted through further allocations at all tiers of the settlement hierarchy
- Housing allocations at Local Service Centres should be reinstated into the SADPD
- Some components of the Council’s five-year housing land supply are questionable
- Various sites are promoted as further or alternative allocations to those currently chosen
- The requirement to demonstrate ‘exceptional circumstances’ has not been met to alter the Green Belt boundary in order to designate safeguarded land around Local Service Centres
- A number of the policy requirements in the Plan will adversely affect the viability of new development
- There is a need to further review and make changes to settlement, infill village, Strategic Green Gap and Green Belt boundaries
The public hearings, where agents, landowners and members of the public are able to speak on the proposed plan, are set to take place in late September and early October. The Local Plan Strategy ran into serious difficulties and a legal challenge meant that although the hearings started in 2014 it was a further 3 years before the document was actually adopted. It remains to be seen whether the second part of the Local Plan will enjoy a smoother passage through the examination process.
Richard Pigott is a Director at Planning & Design Practice and formerly worked as a Planning Officer at Macclesfield Borough Council before it became part of Cheshire East Council.