Colin Muller

A housing boss bidding to push through a 1,100-home ‘Nantwich South’ development in Stapeley, claims Cheshire East Council is ‘misrepresenting’ the facts about planning permissions for new homes.

Colin Muller says almost a quarter of the homes that the authority claims it has granted planning permission for were actually approved on appeal.

Mr Muller, who runs Alsager-based Muller Property Group, says of the 20,441 new homes approved by Cheshire East, 4,300 of them (21%) were granted only after appeals by developers over the council’s initial refusal..

He also claims that council bosses have boasted that 10 major sites have recorded housing completions more than 50% higher than expected, but that five of those sites were among those granted permission after appeal.

The developer also claims the council is falling short of its own ‘Objectively Assessed Need’ (OAN) targets of 1,800 homes per year.

A second public inquiry into Muller’s controversial Stapeley housing bid was held in February and the results are likely to be announced by the Secretary of State in the next few weeks.

Mr Muller said: “Cheshire East claims that in 2017/18 completions will exceed 2,000 – but in order to meet the council’s own five year land supply targets this would need to be in excess of 3,000, so 2,000 is not exactly an achievement.

“Building houses doesn’t happen overnight, but they will never get built if permission is refused in the first place.

“For the council to claim that they granted permission for 20,441 homes is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

“If they had had their way there would be at least 4,300 fewer homes in the pipeline, and the housing situation in east Cheshire would be in an even worse state than it is now.”

But Cheshire East Council hit back, calling Mr Muller’s claims “unfair and unfounded”.

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, Gorsty hill Local Plan victory
Cllr Ainsley Arnold

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “In response to Mr Muller’s criticism of this council’s housing land supply position and the number of developments granted on appeal, I wish to state categorically that I reject his accusations as totally unfair and unfounded.

“Applications went to appeal because the council opposed speculative, sporadic development across the borough.

“The council – while formulating its Local Plan Strategy – did not wish to see disjointed, ad-hoc and un-coordinated development.

“Like many councils, Cheshire East experienced a high number of planning appeals while its local plan was in development.

“But our objection was not to the principle of new housing, rather the problem of development unconnected to supporting infrastructure.

“The Local Plan, adopted last year, allocates almost 1,000 hectares of land for new housing and the council is pleased to see many more house builders active in the borough and demonstrating a responsible approach to house building and the planning process.

“Less than 10 years ago, Cheshire East was subject to what amounted to a ‘moratorium’ on house building.

“Yet in 2016/17 a record 1,762 new homes were completed in Cheshire East and that is something I am proud of.

“By forging productive relationships with responsible sectors of the industry we seek to ensure that house building continues at the appropriate pace and, combined with existing planning permissions, the borough has sufficient land to meet housing needs through to at least 2029.

“Finally, this council looks forward to seeing Muller Property progress three key sites earmarked for more than 700 homes, the first of which has enjoyed planning permission since 2014.”

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