First success for Neighbourhood Plan

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Audlem's emerging Neighbourhood Plan (ANP) had its first success at yesterday's Cheshire East Southern Planning Committee meeting.

An application to build a dwelling in a garden of a property outside the settlement boundary had been recommended for approval by Cheshire East's Planners on the grounds that Cheshire East "is unable to robustly demonstrate a five-year housing land supply." The Parish Council was allowed three minutes to explain why the Committee should ignore the Planners' recommendation and refuse the application

Audlem's Neighbourhood Plan

On behalf of the Parish Council, Heather Jones explained that Audlem had worked extremely hard (in conjunction with Cheshire East's own Planning Department) to produce the ANP, which is at the point of going to Independent Examination. She stated that since Cheshire East's own response to the statutory consultation had been very positive, it was astonishing to find that one of the authority's own Planning Officers had decided to ignore the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.

She went on to say that the ANP states that there shall be no infill development unless on land within the existing Audlem settlement boundary or gardens within the curtilage of existing properties immediately adjacent to the existing Audlem settlement boundary. Whilst emphasising that the ANP is not against development, she stressed that the village needs more affordable houses. Finally, she reminded the Committee that there have been precedents where emerging Neighbourhood Plans had been used in planning decision making.

Lengthy Debate

After the applicant had made the case to support the Planners' recommendation to approve the application, the Committee members engaged in lengthy debate about the status of the ANP and whether it should be taken account in making the decision. Two members of the Committee stated that they knew just how much time and effort had been put into creating Neighbourhood Plans and they felt that the wishes of the residents should be paramount.

Some of the Committee members referred to a decision taken the previous month where the emerging Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan had been the catalyst for refusing a planning application.

Decision to refuse the application

Finally, after all the debate had finished, a proposal to refuse the application was carried by seven votes to four, with one abstention.

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