THE proposed blueprint for the development and prosperity of Chester and the wider borough has been submitted for public examination to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Draft Local Plan – which has been four years in the making – was submitted for scrutiny by Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, in Whitehall yesterday.
At a special council meeting in Winsford, the plan – to guide development across West Cheshire for the next 17 years – was approved by a majority, with opposition members abstaining.
The council has on several occasions defended its rejection of planning applications only to be overturned on appeal because it had not allocated a five-year supply of deliverable housing land required by Government.
The Draft Local Plan identifies 22,000 new homes should be built by 2030 and protects the North Cheshire Green Belt, with a single proposed release of land off Wrexham Road.
Objectors believe the housing figures are ‘over-inflated and non-evidence-based’ and strongly oppose change to the Green Belt, earmarked for 1,300 homes.
With 10,000-plus new-build consents already in the pipeline, objectors have raised concerns developers are ‘land-banking’ and should be encouraged to take action to start building before any further permissions are granted.
There will be an inspector’s examination of the plan in public in the spring, when there will be a chance for the plans draft policies and proposals to be debated and challenged.
At the special council meeting, Cllr Margaret Parker, chairman of the Local Development Framework Panel, said the housing target “reflected the objective assessment of the Borough’s housing need” and was “entirely in line with the National Planning Policy Framework”.
It is hoped the inspector’s report on his examination in public will be available in the summer.