Friday, 20 September 2013

The Cheshire East Local Plan - The Cart & The Horse

Cheshire East's Strategic Planning Board will be told next week that the Green Belt Study being undertaken to support the emerging Local Plan is "soon-to-be-finalised".
One wonders then upon what basis the Leader of Council, Michael Jones, was able to tell the BBC's North West Tonight programme this week that the Green Belt land proposed for the North Cheshire Growth Village east of Handforth was of "low quality"?
To be considered 'sound' the NPPF requires a Local Plan to be 'justified', which is defined as being "the most appropriate strategy, when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence."
A LPA's evidence base will obviously evolve in parallel to the evolution of the local plan process, and it may well be that the Green Belt Study supports the assertion that the North Cheshire Growth Village is the most appropriate strategy when considered against reasonable alternatives, but by not undertaking such a key plank of the evidence base earlier in the process the Council must be vulnerable to the accusation that a cart is being put before a horse.

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