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Government minister snubs local decision-making process

7 August 2020

Cheshire East Council has responded to the recent ruling by Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, permitting the development of new housing at Stapeley, near Nantwich.

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: “The ruling by the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, recognises that the application is not in line with the development plan overall and is not in accordance with policies within the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy, the Crewe and Nantwich replacement local plan and Stapeley and Batherton neighbourhood plan.

“He also recognises that Cheshire East Council can demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, the confirmation of which should mean that the government’s policy of ‘tilted balance’ in favour of housing development no longer applies within Cheshire East.

“However, despite this, he has assigned more significant weight to the government’s drive to build more houses in making his decision. 

“It is particularly regrettable that Mr Jenrick has decided to overrule the local authority’s decision to refuse planning permission in favour of imposing a national government requirement to build more houses – a decision that Cheshire East Council believes will be to the detriment of the residents of Nantwich.

“Having sought legal advice, it is with deep disappointment that we have been advised that the secretary of state has acted lawfully and there is no basis on which to launch a legal challenge.

“This is undoubtedly as disappointing for residents as it is for the council. However, we cannot support the use of public money to make a legal challenge where there are no identified legal grounds on which to do so.

“Nonetheless, the council will be raising this matter directly with the secretary of state and would encourage our partners who share our concern to do the same.”Cllr Toni Fox

Councillor Toni Fox, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for planning, said: “I am extremely disappointed by both the decision, and the clearly considered wording of the decision made by the secretary of state, which has effectively blocked any opportunity for the council to lodge a legal appeal. 

“The interests of local residents, supported by Cheshire East Council, have been outweighed by a national political imperative to build more houses.

"This decision by the secretary of state will be a huge disappointment to many local residents, as it is to the council,  because it clearly goes against the principle of local decision making and will add even more pressure to local services that are already under strain due to the number of new houses being built.  

“Alongside the council raising this directly with the secretary of state, I will be pursuing this politically through our joint administration in addition to lobbying for the support of the borough’s Conservative MPs. 

“I would encourage local residents, ward members and town and parish councils to do the same”.