MP supports Parish Council

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Audlem's MP, Stephen O'Brien, has written to Audlem Parish Council Clerk to confirm his support in the fight against speculative developments in the village.

On 6 November the Parish Council chairman, Phillip Johnson, sent a letter to The Sunday Times pointing out the issues relating to the application by Gladman Developments Ltd to build up to 120 houses on the outskirts of the village. (The letter is printed below.)

Stephen O'Brien's response to the letter was: "I could not agree more ..." which is pleasing to note. Let's hope he is able to exert pressure in Westminster to stop these unwarranted attacks on the countryside of Cheshire East and beyond.

The letter to The Sunday Times from Phillip Johnson, Chair of Audlem Parish Council
6 November 2013

Dear Ms Oakeshott (Political Editor, The Sunday Times)

Audlem Parish Councillors were interested to read your article (3 Nov 13) regarding builders using a loophole to flood villages with concrete. Audlem, in South Cheshire, is yet another village suffering from a speculative application by the Gladman Group. Here they have applied to build 120 houses on a greenfield site, on good quality farmland outside the village development boundary. There are currently under 700 homes inside the settlement boundary; the proposed 17% increase in housing will have a significant negative impact on the character of the village.

There are major infrastructure issues which need to be rectified before such a large development could be accommodated. The fact that United Utilities is statutorily obliged to connect homes to water and sewerage systems means that they have no power to oppose applications or contest their ability to provide such services.

The medical practice has confirmed it would have to close its books to all new residents as it is already over-subscribed. The local transport system is inadequate, with no direct links to major centres of employment or the local hospital. All fuel has to be brought in by road since there is no gas supply in the village.

We doubt that any communities would agree with David Gladman's assertion that they apply to build in 'sensible, sustainable locations'. This riding roughshod over local wishes makes a mockery of both Localism and the sustainability criterion much vaunted by government.

To add insult to injury, Gladman have gone directly to Appeal on the grounds of non-determination by Cheshire East Council. They are taking advantage of the fact that Cheshire East has an incomplete Local Plan and has yet to prove it has an adequate 5 years Housing Land Supply.

The Planning Inspectorate now requires that a 20% buffer has to be added to the Housing Land Supply. Result — even more building. The cost of all these Appeals is astronomical and it is the local residents, through their Council tax, who have to bear the cost whilst the rapacious Gladman Group walk off with the profit.

Nick Boles' and other Government Ministers' assertion that house-building creates growth is flawed. Job security and confidence in the economy are needed before people take the plunge and move house. There is no local employment for prospective purchasers of these 4-5 bedroomed houses. Providing affordable housing at the lower end of the ladder would result in movement in the housing market but the affordable housing required in outline applications is often removed due to developers' alleged 'economic constraints'.

We are not against development per se, but this has to be in keeping with the size and character of our village. What can be done to persuade Ministers that this rush to concrete over our farmland is short sighted and fundamentally wrong?

Yours sincerely

Phillip Johnson
Chair, Audlem Parish Council