The housing requirement is currently 5750 for five years, based upon the old Regional Spatial Strategy figures (although it should be noted that the Council’s emerging housing requirement is higher than that of the former RSS). There is a backlog since 2003 of around 1750 dwellings, so a total requirement of 7500.
On the supply front, the Council’s position is that it is 9367, with a 4000 contribution from proposed strategic sites. In HIMOR's Gresty Oaks submission an allowance of 1000 from strategic sites was proposed within a supply of 5500. The Congleton Road decision provides for an allowance of 3000 within a supply of 7000-7500..
So is there grounds, as the Leader of the Council has indicated, to continue to claim a 7000 requirement? The NPPF does not express a preference for either the Sedgefield or Liverpool methods, but a 20% buffer and the Sedgefield approach to backlogs is now pretty typical in cases like Cheshire East where there has been historic undersupply. Even if this point could be argued, the second question is whether the 7000 supply calculation is legitimate. The Congleton Road decision deliberately affords the Council ‘leeway’ here and does not subject each strategic site to the kind of ‘forensic’ analysis that HIMOR undertook as part of the Gresty Oaks submission.
In my humble opinion, if the current plan, based upon a SHLAA that two Inspectors have interrogated, is submitted for examination I can see no conclusion on five year supply different from those reached in these decisions. I am not a lawyer, but if I were a Cheshire East Council Tax-payer I would see little merit in Cllr Jones’ suggested legal challenge because, as is stated in the Congleton Road decision, 'the assessment of land supply is not an exact science' and it is hard to see how these decisions are illegal, irrational or procedurally improper, which are the accepted grounds for challenge. Even in the event though that the requirement was judged to be 7000 the current supply is unlikely to stand up to detailed scrutiny.