Supreme Court - Land off Moorfields in Willaston, pic by Espresso Addict under creative commons

A landmark Supreme Court ruling has allowed Richborough Estates to build 170 homes on green land in Willaston.

The decision, by five judges in the highest court in the land, brings an end to a three-year legal battle.

But Cheshire East Council bosses also believe it is a moral victory for them as it has secured a ruling about the proper interpretation of policy, which sets a new precedent for future planning decisions.

The Supreme Court judges were critical of the Court of Appeal for treating local and neighbourhood plans and policies as out of date.

The judgement said: “No one would naturally describe a recently approved green belt policy in a local plan as ‘out of date’, merely because the housing policies in another part of the plan fail to meet the NPPF objectives.”

Sean Hannaby, Cheshire East’s director of panning and sustainable development, said: “We may have lost the battle in Willaston but we have certainly won the war in terms of resisting unsustainable, speculative development schemes that impact on our countryside and our residents.

“It strengthens the position of all local planning authorities seeking to resist unsustainable development in inappropriate areas.

“The Supreme Court has decided that because of the circumstances of the particular case, the permission granted on appeal for 170 homes at Moorfields in Willaston will still stand.

“However, the wider importance of the ruling on the interpretation of the NPPF has great significance for Cheshire East and all other planning authorities as it means that due weight must be given to an authority’s non-housing-related policies such as green gap protection.

“We hope local communities and planning colleagues nationally will agree that the hard work of officers, backed by members, has brought much needed clarity to this issue.”

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “We took this action on behalf of residents and to ensure locally set planning policies which seek to protect green belt, green gap, or other important landscapes, get the recognition they deserve.

“This is a decision of national importance and we felt that we had to stand our ground on this matter by taking our case to the highest court in the land.

“That decision, and the hard work of the Council’s planners and lawyers, has been vindicated.”

Both Cheshire East, in conjunction with Suffolk Coastal Council, argued that guidance which suggested National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was being applied incorrectly, undermined local decisions in the development plan as to where development should and should not be allowed.

Cheshire East Council leader Rachel Bailey said: “This is a landmark ruling, achieved by Cheshire East, which will benefit planning authorities and town planners up and down the country.

“I am proud this council had the courage to pursue this action.

“This means that we can now better protect our local communities from speculative, unsustainable development by ensuring a proper approach to the application of planning policies.”

Cheshire East Council says the judgement strengthens the hand of all local authorities seeking to protect green gap, green belt and other special sites such as Jodrell Bank.


  1. Ian Wainwright says:

    its going ahead now though isn’t it ! 🙁

  2. Fantastic. This site has one access point almost at the end of a long residential road with constant on street parking making it like a chicane at times. Only access to Moorfields is from Wistaston Road which the 84 bus struggles to navigate most days due to on street parking. Now years of building traffic to add to the nightmare, every brick and timber brought in by truck, every excavator and dumper truck will have to use these roads and none of this was considered a reason for refusal. Crazy decisions from people who clearly don’t know the area.

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