Mon, 07 Jan 2013
Two years ago Richborough Estates appealed the decisions of Cheshire East Council to refuse outline planning permission for the erection of up to 269 dwellings provision of public open space, highway works and associated works; and provision of a shared footpath and cycleway and associated works on land along the southern boundary of Hind Heath Road, Sandbach, Cheshire.
On 10 January 2011 the appeals were recovered for the Secretary of State. On the 22 – 25 February 2011 a public inquiry was held. Christopher Young’s submissions persuaded the Inspector to produce a report recommending that the appeals be granted, but in a letter dated 4 July 2011, the SoS disagreed and dismissed the appeals, refusing planning permission. The basis on which the SoS felt the balance was tipped against the proposed development was agreement with the Council’s revised estimate of deliverable sites over the next five years which caused him to reach the conclusion that there was sufficient land to meet the 5 year requirement in Sandbach; the impact on countryside protection policies and inconsistency with Government policies on climate change.
Ian Dove QC on behalf of Richborough Estates successfully appealed the SoS’s decision of the 4 July 2011 and the decision was quashed by order of the High Court dated 18 October 2011. He then advised on the redetermination of the appeal and the further submissions made to the Secretary of State.
The appeals therefore fell to be re-determined by the Secretary of State, for which representations were first welcomed on 5-year HLS and material changes of fact and policy since the inquiry and then again following the publication of the NPPF. The SoS concluded in his letter of 12 July 2012 that there were no substantive issues that required the inquiry to be re-opened. However following the judgment in the Court of Appeal on the 20 July 2012 in the case of Fox Strategic Land and Property Ltd v SSCLG and Ors , regarding another site in Sandbach, the Secretary of State issued a letter dated 7 August 2012 with respect to which further representations were invited for the purposes of the SoS’s re-determination of these appeals.
The SoS in his decision letter issued on 6th December 2012, on the basis of the evidence submitted prior to his earlier determination, including the Inspector’s report, and all other representations received following the close of the Inquiry, brought his decision in line with the Inspector’s report.
On the main issues of countryside protection policies, housing land supply, the spatial objectives of the development plan, affordable housing, regeneration proposals, the hedgerow and government policies on planning and climate change, the SoS agreed with the Inspector. He found that whilst the proposal would cause material harm to countryside protection policies and a large section of important hedgerow would be unavoidably lost, in performing a balancing act against the sizeable shortfall in HLS; consistency of the proposal with the spatial strategy; the materially beneficial affect upon the provision of affordable housing; that no harm would be caused to regeneration projects; and more good than bad being achieved in terms of sustainability, he does not consider that the adverse impacts of granting planning permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in this case.
On this basis, the SoS allowed the appeals and granted outline planning permission subject to conditions.