By Audlem Parish Council - 10th August 2017 6:09am
On Wednesday 9th August the Cheshire East Southern Planning Committee decided to follow the Planning Officer's recommendation to be 'minded to refuse' the McCarthy & Stone application for 25 retirement apartments at Little Heath. As Cheshire East Council had failed to make a decision on the application within the required timeframe, the application will go to Appeal on the grounds of non-determination. Cheshire East Council are nonetheless required to say whether they would have Approved or Refused the application; hence the decision is shown as 'minded to refuse'.
Following statements from Stapeley Ward Councillor Peter Groves (as Audlem's Ward Councillor has declared an interest in the site), the Parish Council and three additional speakers a fairly lengthy debate ensued. This mainly centred on two issues. Firstly, the ability of Councillors to require an additional Section 106 contribution to the Medical Practice, as requested by South Cheshire CCG. Secondly, the fact that McCarthy & Stone had failed to offer a sufficient sum in lieu of providing affordable housing on the site.
Ultimately Councillors voted and unanimously agreed that:
Applying the tests within Paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework it is not considered that the benefits outweigh the dis-benefits. As such, on balance, it is considered that the does not constitute sustainable development and should therefore be refused.
Councillors also agreed that should the application be subject to an Appeal, S106 provision would be requested for a commuted sum of £556,699 towards affordable housing in the local area. Another requirement would be for the provision of a management company for the future maintenance of an on site open space/green gym suitable for use by residents of the apartments. There is, unfortunately, no guarantee that the sum for affordable housing would actually be spent in Audlem, but there is a requirement for open space funding to be used within 800m of the development. Sadly, the request for S106 funding for the Medical Practice was not included for legal reasons.
The outcome raised a number of issues which the Parish Council will be taking up with Cheshire East and NHS England about provision of medical facilities to support additional housing in the area.
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