Cheshire East Council's Local Plan Strategy to shape development across the Borough up to 2030 has moved a step closer to being put in place.
Following the resumption of the Local Plan examination in August and the holding of seven days of hearings in October, Local Plan Inspector Stephen Pratt issued his 'further interim views' on the submitted Plan in December (2015).
These broadly supported the further evidential work carried out by the Council over the past 12 months in relation to the Local Plan.
The inspector noted that: "There is no doubt that Cheshire East Council has produced an impressive and comprehensive set of additional evidence within a relatively limited amount of time during the suspension of the examination."
Now the revised Local Plan Strategy is set to go before strategic planning board, Cabinet and for approval by Full Council in February, before further extensive public consultation. This will include additional and amended strategic site allocations.
The Council is due to submit the Local Plan Strategy, with any amendments, to the Planning Inspector in June 2016.
Councillor Rachel Bailey, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of the Local Plan, said: "The positive views expressed by the Inspector have enabled the Council to make amendments to our Local Plan with confidence and publish these for consultation.
"We therefore propose to take a report to a full meeting of the Council at the end of February, setting out proposed amendments to the plan.
"This will include a comprehensive suite of development sites to accommodate the larger scale of growth now planned for the Borough. Following a period of full consultation, during March and April, further examination hearings are expected to be held in early autumn.
"We are doing everything possible to progress the Local Plan and to speed up its completion. We are mindful that we have to work within the processes and timescales set out in legislation.
"However, with every stage we are working hard to bring the final adoption of the Local Plan a step closer."
The updated evidence completed during the suspension of the Inspector's examination necessitated revisions to the main strategic policies relating to housing, economic growth, development and green belt. The wording of policies was amended to reflect the outcome of the new evidence. The key points included:
● Revisions to reflect a revised housing requirement of 36,000 homes (up from 29,000);
● Increased employment land requirement, up from 300 hectares to 380ha, to reflect the stronger anticipated jobs growth rate of 0.7 per cent per annum (up from the original anticipated rate of 0.4 per cent);
● Revised spatial distribution of development, incorporating both the uplift in overall development and the need for additional growth in the northern towns;
● Increase in the amount of safeguarded land within green belt areas to 200ha;
● Replacement of the new green belt between Crewe and Nantwich with a revised strategic green-gap policy.
These revisions were endorsed by Cabinet on July 21, 2015.
Photo: Councillor Rachel Bailey, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of the Local Plan.