CHESHIRE East’s chief executive has used urgency powers to remove two of the three reasons a planning committee gave for refusing a Wilmslow application.

The decision relates to a proposal from Churchill Retirement Living to bulldoze two properties on Holly Road South and replace them with 34 retirement living apartments for the over 60s.

The application was refused by the northern planning committee in February on three grounds and, in an unusual move, the chief exec used urgency powers this month to remove two reasons, relating to lack of parking and viability.

Cheshire East has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the decision was taken to avoid unnecessary legal costs against the council.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Acting under urgency powers, and following consultation with the relevant officers and councillors, the chief executive took the decision to authorise the removal of reasons numbered one and three from the determined planning application 22/2347M.”

Knutsford Guardian: Cheshire East Council's chief executive, Dr Lorraine O'DonnellCheshire East Council's chief executive, Dr Lorraine O'Donnell (Image: Cheshire East Council)

He continued: “The applicant has lodged an appeal against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission. This appeal was accepted by the planning inspectorate as due for public inquiry.”

“Following the council’s refusal of permission on 15 February 2023, the council’s highways officers undertook survey work in relation to reason for refusal number three - lack of parking - and concluded that the evidence suggests the parking provision is acceptable.

“Following discussions with the applicant and the council’s appointed consultant, in an attempt to find an agreed position in relation to viability - reason for refusal number one -  an agreed position has been reached to overcome the reason for refusal.

“The decision to use urgency powers was taken to act swiftly to avoid unnecessary legal costs against the council resulting from a planning appeal.”

The application had been recommended for refusal by the council’s planning officers when it went to the February meeting.

They had said it should be turned down on the grounds it fails to provide on-site affordable housing or open space and because insufficient information had been submitted to assess the impact of the proposed development on existing trees on site.

The committee members had added lack of parking provision as a third reason for refusal.

Although the council’s planning and highways officers had not put parking forward as a reason for refusal, highways officer Neil Jones did tell the February meeting he was not happy with the parking allocation – but had not objected because Cheshire East had recently lost an appeal over a similar issue with regard to another Churchill application.

Churchill proposed 16 spaces for 34 apartments, which councillors argued wasn’t enough because the roads near the Wilmslow site have double yellow lines and restricted hours parking.

The LDRS understands the reason for refusal of the application in relation to the trees still stands.

In the meantime, Churchill has submitted another application, number 23/0853M, for the same site.

A planning document on the council’s website states: “This is a re-submission of the appeal proposals and is being ‘twin-tracked’ alongside this appeal.”

That application, which is for 33 retirement living apartments, is expected to go before the northern planning committee on June 7.