Tuesday, 15 July 2014

More drama in the build-up to Cheshire East's Pre-Examination Meeting

Another day, another appeal decision in Cheshire East. This Dunnocksfold Road, Alsager decision is though notable because the inspector offers a definitive view on the housing land supply position rather than just, as previous inspectors have done, concluding that the Council cannot demonstrate one.

"In applying the identified annual housing target from the CS + the backlog figure + the 5% buffer (2029 units) the resultant years supply would be 3.62 years. Even using the Council’s own assessed supply figure of 9897 it would only provide 4.8 years of land with a 5% buffer."

Also of note is a mild rebuke for the Council for using the RSS annual requirement of 1,150 homes per annum for the purposes of five year supply calculations, whilst at the same promoting an annual requirement of 1,350 per annum in the emerging local plan.

"On the evidence before me I conclude that for the Council to put aside their promoted CS housing target based on recent evidence within their SHMA and SHLAA in favour of a historic housing target from a revoked plan is a flawed approach."

Of most interest though in light of the Pre-Examination Meeting next week is the Inspector's comments at paragraph 63 on housing supply.

"All of the above factors under the heading supply give me little confidence that the overall assessment of land available to meet a five year housing land supply is robust and can be relied upon. The Council’s optimism that the sites upon which they rely as presenting development opportunities with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the sites within five years is at best questionable and at worst unfounded. The appellants have applied a reality check to the Council’s evidence and I find that to be more credible in this regard."

If sites identified in the local plan as coming forward in the short term only begin to come forward in the medium term then the ability to deliver the overall housing requirement within the plan period will legitimately be called into question.

The Pre-Examination Meeting is likely to be a lively affair...

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