CHESHIRE East Council has said it has taken a major step forward in its fight against unplanned and unwanted housing development.

The authority has published its latest assessment of housing land supply in the borough – which shows that the authority now has more than a five-year supply of housing land, inclusive of a crucial five-per cent buffer for choice and competition.

It means Cheshire East’s countryside should now be better protected against unsustainable development.

The council has been dogged by this issue in the past year with housing developments in Sandbach, Alsager and Congleton all approved after developers appealed their refusal to the secretary of state.

Cheshire East Council Leader Clr Michael Jones said the latest update signals the council’s 'determination to continue its fight to fend off unplanned, unsustainable and unwanted development in the borough and protect the best of our countryside'.

The assessment recognises the results of appeal decisions in the autumn, which concluded that the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing at that point and takes on board many of the comments made by the Planning Inspectors.

It also follows consultation with the Housing Market Partnership, in December, on methodology and sources of supply.

Clr Jones said: “The latest assessment published today shows that Cheshire East responded robustly to the Government’s call to meet the need for more housing.

“It shows that we have granted numerous planning permissions and there are many more sites now under construction. This demonstrates that land is being made available to provide the housing that the Borough will need in future, while protecting the countryside and green belt.

“There are many variables in the calculation of housing land supply but we have been careful to take on board many of the outcomes of the recent planning appeals.

“We have included a five per cent buffer for choice and competition because, historically, Cheshire East has always been a healthy housing market area.

“We actually have just over a 20 per cent buffer on housing supply. However, we do not believe that a larger 20 per cent buffer is appropriate because past delivery was artificially weakened by the regionally-imposed moratoriums imposed on Congleton and Macclesfield boroughs, which prevented us from delivering more homes over the last decade.

"Cheshire East should not be penalised for that – as it was beyond its control.

“We hope that the current rash of speculative planning applications for housing will now start to ebb away and that the development industry will work constructively with us to secure the effective implementation of new Local Plan.

“It will also help save taxpayers money from the legal costs of fighting planning appeals, because we will have demonstrated a five-year housing supply as a crucial barrier to unplanned, unwanted and unsustainable developments.”

The five-year-housing supply report will go before a meeting of the council’s Strategic Planning Board on February 5.

The five-year housing requirement is 8,311 homes (inclusive of a five per cent buffer) and the identified supply is 9,757 homes – equivalent to 5.87 years.

The Housing requirement is based on the figures in the former North West Regional Spatial Strategy.