Policy PG 1: Overall Development Strategy

  1. Provision will be made for a minimum of 380 hectares of land for business, general industrial and storage and distribution uses over the period 2010 to 2030, to support growth of the local economy.
  2. Sufficient land will be provided to accommodate the full, objectively assessed needs for the borough of a minimum of 36,000 homes between 2010 and 2030. This will be delivered at an average of 1,800 net additional dwellings per year.



8.3 The Cheshire East Employment Land Review (2012) highlights that Cheshire East is a key economic driver for the North West. The local economy provides 7% of the North West's economic output footnote 1 and contains 7.6% of its businesses, the highest proportion of any unitary district in the North West footnote 2.

8.4 The Employment Land Review and the Alignment of Economic, Employment and Housing Strategy Report (2015) are the primary sources of evidence related to the requirements for employment land. They use a variety of methods to forecast the requirements for new employment land up to 2030. The Employment Land Review considers the annual average rates of take-up of employment land over the past 25 years, as well as forecasting future demand for employment land using econometric data and population forecasts. It also looks at the annual average amount of employment land lost to other uses over the past 15 years.

8.5 Using all the available information, and in accordance with the 2004 ODPM Guidance Note on Employment Land Reviews, the study gives a range for the amount of employment land that will be required between 2009 and 2030. This range is between 278 hectares and 324 hectares, which includes a flexibility factor of 30% to reflect Cheshire East's aspirations for employment-led growth.

8.6 The Alignment of Economic, Employment & Housing Strategy Report (AEEHS) (2015) used updated econometric projections, which pointed to a significantly greater employment growth rate over the plan period than the Employment Land Review’s econometric projections did. The AEEHS used a methodology that is largely in line with the assumptions and approaches used in the Employment Land Review, but concluded that a 20% flexibility factor was more appropriate, given the use of more optimistic employment forecasts. The AEEHS results suggest employment land totalling 378 hectares will be required over the plan period.

Table 8.1 Employment Completions and Supply
Employment Land SupplyHectares
Completions 01 April 2010 to 31 March 2013 1.6
Employment Land Supply 01 April 2013 footnote 30) 46.7
Total Completions and Supply 48.3
Remaining (minimum) 331.7

8.7 Further information in relation to the completions and commitments is set out in Appendix A: 'Proposed Growth Distribution'.


8.8 The housing requirement set out in Policy PG 1 responds to the Housing Development Study (2015) and aims to meet the full objectively assessed need for an additional 36,000 dwellings that is predicted to arise in Cheshire East over the 2010 – 2030 period. The Housing Development Study has used the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) 2012-based household projections as a ‘starting point’ and applied a 10-year migration trend. The study also projected economic activity rates up to 2030 and assumed that there are no further falls in unemployment. It considered the evidence on market signals along with the need for affordable housing and for older people (including C2 bed spaces). It then sought to identify the appropriate balance – between working residents and the number of people working in the borough – that is necessary to achieve jobs growth of around 31,000 (an average of 0.7% jobs growth a year). Such a balance requires both migration flows and commuting flows to be sustainable over the plan period.

8.9 The Housing Development Study concludes that Cheshire East is an appropriate geography for planning purposes over which to assess and meet housing requirements. The study also concludes that Cheshire East comprises two functional sub-market areas suggested by the data to reflect the former Macclesfield Borough and a second sub-area reflecting the former Crewe & Nantwich and Congleton areas.

8.10 The CLG 2012-based household projections (period 2012-2037) were used as the ‘starting point’ for determining the objectively assessed need for housing. This links in with paragraphs 15 and 16 of the Planning Practice Guidance which makes clear that:

“Household projections published by the Department for Communities and Local Government should provide the starting point estimate of overall housing need”. (PPG 2015, Paragraph 15)

“The 2012-2037 Household Projections were published on the 27 February 2015, and are the most up to date estimate of future household growth”. (PPG 2015, Paragraph 16)

8.11 Following the completion of the Housing Development Study (2015), the council, in line with the Planning Practice Guidance (ID-2a-016), has considered the latest available information from the 2014-based household projections (period 2014-2039) published by CLG in July 2016. These represent a modest reduction which does not warrant a change to the planned approach in the dwellings projection set out in Policy PG 1 'Overall Development Strategy'.

8.12 Having taken the CLG 2012-based projections as its ‘starting point’, the Housing Development Study tested alternative migration trends, concluding that a 10-year migration trend best represented long-term change. The study also projected economic activity rates up to 2030, based on Census data for Cheshire East and Office for Budget Responsibility projections. It assumes that unemployment stays at its March 2015 level and makes allowances for vacancies, second homes and “double-jobbing” (people holding multiple jobs). The study also considered the latest evidence on market signals (as required by Planning Practice Guidance). In doing so, it used Office for National Statistics area classification data and CLG Index of Multiple Deprivation data to identify areas with similar demographic and economic characteristics to Cheshire East. The market signals analysis compared Cheshire East to these areas - Cheshire West & Chester, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Wiltshire and North Somerset – and to England. The study identified that, on the whole, market signals do not indicate any need for an upward adjustment to housing need: house price trends and affordability trends in Cheshire East are close to those for England and are typically in line with those for the comparator areas; average rents and increases in rents are broadly in line with England and the comparator areas; the proportion of households that are overcrowded is lower than in England (and most comparator areas) and rose more slowly during 2001-11 than in most of these other areas; and whilst the rate of development has been relatively low in recent years, it was higher than the England average for 2001-11. Nevertheless, there has been an increase in concealed families over the period 2001-11, which the objective assessment of housing need has addressed, and homelessness - by increasing projected household growth by 344 (an average of 17 per annum) over the plan period (2010-2030). The study identifies a total affordable housing need of a minimum of 7,100 dwellings (an average of 355 per annum), which is included in the objective assessment of housing need of at least 36,000 dwellings.

8.13 The Alignment of Economic, Employment and Housing Strategy Report concluded that net jobs growth of around 31,400 jobs would be ambitious yet realistic for the 20-year period (2010-2030); this represents a jobs growth rate of around 0.7% per annum. This is consistent with Cheshire East’s previous long-term economic performance, the council’s Local Plan Strategy and the economic growth vision of the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

8.14 The Housing Development Study notes that, in meeting any shortfall in workers over the plan period, there has to be an appropriate balance between migration flows and commuting flows, to ensure that both are sustainable over the long term. Based on the assumption that net in-migration will average 2,600 per annum over the 20 year plan period (which is equivalent to the highest level recorded in any single year since 1991 and considerably greater than the 2001-11 average of around 1,700 per annum), net in-commuting would need to increase by an average of 400 commuters per annum over the same period. On this basis, net commuting would rise from 1,400 (at the time of the 2011 Census) to around 9,000 by 2030; to put this in context, the number of jobs located in Cheshire East is projected to rise by around 31,000, from 197,000 to 228,000 over the plan period, so even in 2030 net commuting would account for less than 5% of the total projected jobs. Considering all of the evidence, the Housing Development Study has concluded that the objectively assessed need for housing in Cheshire East is 36,000 dwellings over the plan period (2010-2030). It is also important to recognise that, as well as yielding extra population and workers, any increase in housing will also help to address market signals and increase the likely provision of affordable housing.

8.15 The outputs from the Housing Development Study work represent only one of the elements that have been considered by the council in determining its housing requirement. The council has also considered the findings of the Alignment of Economic, Employment and Housing Strategy Report (2015), the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), the pre-recession levels of house building and other wider policy considerations before determining what the appropriate housing requirement is for Cheshire East.

8.16 Around 2,200 sites were considered as part of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (Update 31 March 2012). Of these approximately 1,600 sites were considered suitable for housing during the following 15 years. These 'suitable' sites could potentially provide a total of nearly 50,000 dwellings over the 15 year period, of which about 7,200 homes would be on brownfield sites with a further 4,800 on sites that are a mix of brownfield and greenfield land. This work demonstrates a theoretical capacity for new housing in the borough. An updated assessment of housing permissions and commitments has been completed to a base date of 31 March 2016. This has been used to inform a housing trajectory for the plan period which does include the envisaged delivery timing of all the sites proposed in the plan. The trajectory is reproduced in Appendix E.

8.17 Using an overall housing need target of 36,000 dwellings for the borough over the plan period would equate to an average net increase of around 1,800 dwellings per annum. Setting this annual level to apply from 2010 is a significant step change in the housing requirement for the area compared with past policy requirements. However this overall level of housing is considered necessary and appropriate to meet the council and government’s growth agenda. In arriving at this total figure, consideration has been given to the capacity of the area to accommodate growth and an appropriate balance has been struck which minimises the impact on the environment, infrastructure and the Green Belt, whilst providing for objectively assessed needs. It is considered that a significantly higher growth strategy for housing, to facilitate even greater economic growth, would be unsustainable in overall terms as it would have an unacceptable impact on the local environment, the intended role of the Green Belt and the cumulative capacity of local infrastructure.

8.18 The council fully intends to meet the requirement of delivering 36,000 dwellings over the plan period, taking into consideration a number of key components of supply, which includes commitments (as at 31 March 2016), completions (between 01 April 2010 and 31 March 2016), contributions from Strategic Sites and Locations, proposed Site Allocations and Development Policies Document and a small sites windfall allowance. The full extent of these contributions and their role in meeting and exceeding the housing requirement (allowing for a robust level of plan flexibility) is summarised below and set out fully within Appendix E.

Table 8.2 Housing Supply at 31 March 2016
Housing Land SupplyNet Dwellings footnote 31
Net completions 01/04/10 - 31/03/11 659
Net completions 01/04/11 - 31/03/12 778
Net completions 01/04/12 - 31/03/13 614
Net completions 01/04/13 - 31/03/14 713
Net completions 01/04/14 - 31/03/15 1,236
Net completions 01/04/15 - 31/03/16 footnote 32 1,473
Commitments (excluding commitments on Strategic Sites) 10,822
Contribution from Strategic Sites and Locations 18,555
Contribution to be made through the Site Allocations and Development Policies 3,335 Document 3,335
Small sites windfall allowance 1,375
Total 39,560

8.19 The overall basis of the plan is to enable economic growth in Cheshire East. The local economy suffered, along with the rest of the country, during the recent recession. The annual rate of house building dipped to a low of less than 500 dwellings in 2010/11 compared to the annualised development plan target of 1,150 applicable at the time. This contraction in the house building industry is shown in starker terms when the new annualised average figure of 1,800 is applied immediately from 2010. The selection of land for residential development within the site allocations will need to take account of both the overall housing requirement and the need to redress past shortfalls in delivery since 2010.

8.20 As part of considering options to removing land from the Green Belt, collaboration working with neighbouring authorities has explored the extent to which such authorities could assist in meeting Cheshire East’s housing requirements. The outcome of those discussions is that none of these authorities are in such a position.

8.21 Further information in relation to the housing completions and commitments is set out in Appendix A: 'Proposed Growth Distribution'.

(Footnote 1) Regional GVA (Income Approach) NUTS3 Tables, ONS Dec 2013. Commentary based on data for 2012

(Footnote 2) Business Demography 2012: Enterprise Births, Deaths and Survivals, Nov 2013. Commentary based on data for 2012.

(Footnote 30) Employment sites that were in the employment land supply on this date but are now proposed for alternative uses in this Local Plan Strategy are not included in this figure

(Footnote 31) Annual completions data now includes C2 uses factored in to the calculations.

(Footnote 32) Latest available data.

Policy information