On September 28th and 29th the Planning Inspector, Mr Stephen Pratt, carried out Examination Hearings on the Strategic Development Sites for Macclesfield proposed in the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy( LPS) . A map of these sites and information about those separating Henbury from Macclesfield is shown below.
All parties with an interest in these sites such as those listed below, were able to attend and contribute to these Hearings. These included:
It is useful to understand what the purpose of these Hearings is. They will take 6 weeks to complete and the Inspector has stated that his role is to :
"assess whether the Plan has been prepared in accordance with the legal and procedural requirements, including the Duty to Co-operate, and whether it is sound in terms of the guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). "
In other words it is not an opportunity to force CEC to make further changes, such as the extension of CS41 suggested by a developer in his Examination Submission, unless it can be proved the Plan is not legal and sound.
He also maintained a strictly neutral position, and stressed that his eventual decisions will be based on ALL the written and verbal evidence he receives, thus making it impossible to sense from this meeting what the final outcome will be.
Henbury Parish Council and the Henbury Society explained to the Inspector the reasons, already given in written submissions, why we believe the release of Green Belt for Sites CS32. 40 and 41 is contrary to the NPPF, thus rendering the Plan unsound. We also pointed out the inadequacy of the Council's proposals for dealing with the additional traffic that will result from these new Development Sites, again rendering the Plan unsound. He questioned CEC on the traffic matter, but did not state whether he found the answer satisfactory.
He listened to what we had to say and asked us "where does Henbury start" ? We think he may have been trying to understand the strength of the Henbury community which featured strongly in our submissions.
Other bodies strongly supporting preservation of the green belt between Henbury and Macclesfield included Save Macclesfield Green Belt, represented by their barrister whose fee has been supported by a £1500 donation from the Henbury Society as well as from many individuals . He and others objecting to green belt loss around Macclesfield highlighted the failure of CEC to take full advantage of available brownfield and other land within the Macclesfield town area for house building, pointing out that if they were to be developed the amount of green belt lost in order to reach the housing target would be reduced. David Rutley MP strongly advocated more housing within the town as part of the revitalisation of Macclesfield.
Representatives of the building contractors advocated early development of all the sites adjacent to Henbury as the quickest way to reach the Macclesfield target of 4250 houses over the Plan period as well as delivering the southwest link road.
We now await the Inspector's decision later this year.