THE leader of Cheshire East Council has branded the planning inspectorate ‘nonsensical and inconsistent’ after it said the borough did not have the required amount of housing planned over the next five years.
A Government Planning Inspector this week has ruled that the authority does not have a five-year supply of housing land.
The Inspector reached this conclusion when allowing an appeal and granting planning permission for 94 homes to be built in Sandbach.
Knutsford is expected to welcome 550 homes – including 200 already given permission in Parkgate – as part of the borough’s ongoing local plan.
In his report, dated April 11, 2014, the Inspector stated "About 40 per cent of the houses that are assumed to be delivered within five years do not have planning permission. These dwellings would be built at strategic sites, sites awaiting legal agreements and windfalls."
But Clr Michael Jones has hit back at the comments stating ‘this is just further example of the nonsensical and inconsistent decision-making being executed within the Planning Inspectorate at this current time’.
“In October, a Planning Inspector’s decision stated that we had a 4.3 year supply including the need for a 20 per cent buffer,” he said.
“More recently we have had an Inspector’s decision that we need only a five per cent buffer.
“Since October we have added many thousands of houses and permissions and I find it staggering that this Inspector can be so cavalier in saying we have not got a five-year supply. While the timing of the appeal did not allow the council’s full updated evidence case to be presented the lack of consistency of approach is immensely frustrating.
“We have more appeals to defend in the future and on all of these we will provide a fully evidenced assessment including the National Planning Policy Guidance to ensure we are compliant.
“What is disappointing is that this Inspector seemed determined to listen to developers who have a vested interest in profit rather than the council who have a people interest and who are committed to Cheshire East’s environment.
"It is most disappointing that the Inspector has backed developers and their vested interest.
“Cheshire East Council will now be exploring all options to defend the best interest of its residents. We expect similar decisions until we get an Inspector to review our evidence properly.”