Builders exploiting no Local Plan

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Builders are continuing to exploit the lack of a Local Plan in Cheshire East as they try to persuade local land owners to make their land available for more houses.

AudlemOnline has seen a letter from a regional builder to a local resident which refers continually to the Local Plan. While not being unwise enough to say there is a loophole in planning to exploit while the Local Plan remains in limbo, the builder's letter is clearly trying to exploit that failure by the borough council.

"The progression of the Cheshire East Local Plan may be something you are following closely" and "In turn a delay to the Plan adoption is a delay to the delivery of much needed housing in Cheshire East which brings me to setting out the opportunity for residential development on your land." are the type of phrases used.

What the letter does not include is that the delay to "much need housing" may be that neither of the two developers, Gladman and Hockenhull have laid a single brick in almost eighteen months on the two major sites where they have had permission to build a total of 146 houses.

We have been hearing that the value of land that has planning permission has fallen dramatically from what it was a couple of years ago as developers like Gladman have, in effect, flooded the market as they have obtained so many permissions by exploiting the absence of Local Plans around the country.

We can only hope that Cheshire East's long awaited Local Plan might be completed some time in 2016 — that will mean it has been over seven years in the making.

As one local campaigner, Pat Cullen, of the Protect Stapeley group, said late last year: "I'm afraid the Local Plan process has become an industry in itself which lines the pockets of consultants, developers and others in this new, self-fulfilling industry, but does little or nothing for local people."

Given the way builders and developers continue to exploit the plan's absence, one wonders how any document can take quite so long to finalise. Curiously, work started on Cheshire East's Local Plan the same year as the eagerly awaited Chilcott Enquiry into the Iraq war. We wonder which will be the first to be published!

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