Strategic planning update

This page provides regular updates on planning policy matters affecting Cheshire East, including:

  • progress on the council's Local Plan
  • other research, guidance and projects carried out by the council's Strategic Planning Team, and
  • neighbourhood planning activity taking place across the borough.

June 2020 bulletin - edition 18

Keeping you informed about planning policy matters in the borough.

At this unusual time officers are working from home and continuing to prepare updates to a range of planning policy documents. There are specific updates about some of these below. 

The current COVID 19 situation is likely to affect the progress of many of them. For example, there are certain legal requirements governing how planning policy and related documents are publicised and made available that currently cannot be met because of the closure of council offices and libraries to the public, however this may change as restrictions ease.


As a reminder, the SADPD is the second part of the Council’s Local Plan. The first part, the LPS , containing strategic policies and proposals, was adopted in 2017. Linked to the strategic policies of the LPS , the SADPD sets out more detailed, ‘non-strategic’ development management policies as well as a number of additional, smaller-scale site allocations. When adopted, the SADPD will fully replace the Crewe and Nantwich, Congleton and Macclesfield Borough Local Plans.

In the February edition of the Strategic Planning Update it was reported that the council had received over 2,700 responses to the ‘Publication Draft’ version of the SADPD . Officers have been working through and carefully considering this feedback and a Report of Consultation is now available to view on the SADPD page of the council’s website summarising the key points raised in the responses.

There you will also be able to find out more information about the SADPD and including the range of reports and studies that were published alongside the Publication Draft Plan.

It was also reported in January that a decision would be taken over the summer as to the next step with the Plan. It is currently expected that this will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet in September 2020. 

Prior to the introduction of lockdown measures at the end of March, the council published its Regulation 19 version of the CHAAP that sets the ambition to bring jobs, regeneration and environmental improvements to Crewe, building on the opportunity presented by the arrival of HS2 .

Unfortunately, lockdown measures have prevented the council from undertaking consultation. This of course will mean a delay to the process of finalising the Plan, but the delay will be used to review the document and evidence base ahead of resuming the plan making process as soon as possible.

More information can be found on the Council's CHAAP webpage.

In line with the council’s adopted LPS , a development framework (masterplan) SPD has been prepared to support the delivery of the strategic development location at Brooks Lane, Middlewich (reference LPS 43).

A final draft version of the SPD was consulted on between 22 January and 4 March 2020 along with a report of consultation summarising the comments received to an initial draft of the SPD published in 2019. The report of consultation also identified proposed amendments to the SPD in the light of previous feedback.

The next step, following the most recent round of consultation, is for the council’s Cabinet to decide whether the SPD should be adopted. This decision has had to be delayed because the council is currently unable to comply, if the SPD was adopted, with the legal requirement to make a physical copy of its ‘notice of adoption’ available in the council offices or Middlewich Library for the public to inspect. As soon as these buildings re-open the report will be progressed to the council’s Cabinet.

If adopted as a SPD it would be a ‘material consideration’ when determining relevant planning applications.

Since the start of the year we’ve seen a lot of neighbourhood planning activity across the borough with Alsager, Acton, Wybunbury Combined Parishes, Church Minshull and Newhall all successfully passing referendums in February. Congratulations to everyone involved in these plans.Many other parishes have been busy too, working towards completing their plans – Shavington and Eaton have completed their plans and submitted for examination, Over Peover has recently successfully completed an examination and Little Bollington, Alderley Edge and Hankelow are coming close to submitting.

Neighbourhood plans are subject to regulations that prescribe how and when they must be consulted on in order to pass the relevant legal test and since the lockdown was introduced at the end of March, it has not been possible to fulfil those obligations. Therefore, until either new legislation is introduced or lockdown measures are lifted to allow public access to libraries and council offices to inspect documents, consultation and therefore the neighbourhood planning process must unfortunately be delayed. The government has issued new guidance on neighbourhood planning consultation with a focus on making use of the internet so we would encourage groups to continue the hard work to be ready to resume normal proceedings as soon as possible..

Should you wish to find out more, contact our neighbourhood planning team for advice.

To stay in touch on progress around the borough, news of new resources and national policy, do visit our Neighbourhood Planning page.


 

In December last year the Cabinet decided that all proposals to convert existing family homes into houses in multiple occupation in three areas of Crewe should require planning permission. Under national ‘permitted development’ regulations, only the conversion of a family home into a larger HMO currently requires planning permission. The council proposes to remove these permitted development rights for smaller  HMOS through the introduction of Article 4 Directions in the areas around Nantwich Road, West Street and Hungerford Road.

These areas already have a concentration of HMOS and the Article 4 Directions, once they take effect, would enable to council to manage the development of any further HMOS within them. However, the council is required to first consult on the proposals and confirm whether it intends to bring the Directions into effect in the light of consultation feedback.

The consultation was intended to take place in the late spring and early summer of this year however the national measures introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus has prevented this from taking place. This consultation will now take place as soon as restrictions are lifted. It will be widely publicised around the three areas. 

In the meantime, work is ongoing to prepare a draft SPD to provide further, more detailed guidance on the requirements that any new proposed HMO will need to meet, including how many will be permitted within a particular area. The SPD will be shaped by feedback received through extensive public consultation. Subject to coronavirus-related restrictions being lifted, a first round of public consultation could take place later this year and there may be an opportunity to carry this out alongside consultation on the Article 4 Directions.


 

Each year the council publishes an AMR to, amongst other things, track the effectiveness of its Local Plan and inform decisions about whether current policies need to be updated. The council’s latest AMR , covering the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 19, was published at the end of February. It is available to read at our AMR webpage.

Key findings in the latest AMR include:

  • the number of housing completions have increased by 32% on the previous year;
  • the Council has a 7.5 years supply of housing land;
  • 22% of new homes were affordable;
  • the percentage of empty homes in the Borough rose slightly from 2.4% to 2.5%;
  • an additional 11.60ha of employment land was developed;
  • the amount of employment land lost to other uses has risen from 13.10ha to 16.29ha;
  • the number of vacant retail units in town centres has risen to 287;
  • the number of Listed Buildings at risk has risen from eight to ten; and
  • the average CO2 emissions per person in Cheshire East has fallen to 6.9 tonnes per capita.

For further information on any of the items in this bulletin, contact the Strategic Planning Team by email at localplan@cheshireeast.gov.uk or by telephone on 01270 685893.