Cheshire East Local Plan
Cheshire East submitted its Local Plan to the Secretary of State in May 2014 and the plan is now subject to a lengthy ( probably well into November ) examination by the Inspector Stephen Pratt. You can read the details of the process and look at all documents here.
ARAG attended the first day of the hearings in Macclesfield to understand the process and Alsager will be considered in October.
The main points raised on Day One were:
1. The Council has failed to produce a Traffic Mitigation Report and there was no information available abut when one could be made available.
2. The Inspector indicated that he would not be ruling on so-called ‘Omission sites’ (eg Sandbach Road North)
3. Alsager residents will be surprised to learn that Cheshire East claims to have made significant reductions in housing allocations in the southern part of the borough. This claim seems to rest on the demise of the Barthomley proposals and the reduction from 1000 houses to 350 on White Moss
4. The Inspector referred to recurrent and continuing representations that the Council had predetermined strategy and retrofitted evidence accordingly.
5. It was suggested that the Council’s account of ‘grassroots’ engagement was superficial and that the Council only responded to ‘that which they wanted to hear.’
6. It was suggested that the Sustainability Appraisal had not informed the Plan and again that the methodology adopted had been retrofitted. Indeed, the Sustainability Appraisal had not been produced by the Council itself but by a consultancy. There seemed to be some doubt as to whether there had been comparative assessment of sites in the Sustainability Appraisal.
7. There was an extensive debate about how seriously the Council had genuinely engaged in its responsibility for a duty to cooperate with neighbouring Local Authorities. Had there been genuine dialogue or had the Council just seen this as a matter of informing neighbouring authorities about its plans. The Council has indicated that its has signed Memoranda of Understanding with most neighbouring authorities but it also became clear that there remained serious issues of disagreement that had not yet been resolved.
This Examination process will take six weeks to complete and it would be unfair to reach premature conclusions as to the outcome. However, Day One, if it was in any way representative, suggested to those who were present that there are significant issues surrounding the Cheshire East Local Plan and that its adoption is still some way off.
The ARAG statement on the Alsager aspects of the Local Plan can be viewed here.