refusal - The development is proposed on land off Audlem Road (Google)

Cheshire East Council has refused a 28-home development for Audlem – even though the consultation period didn’t end until an hour after the decision was made, writes Belinda Ryan.

Tabley Homes and Renew Land applied for permission to build the homes on a field east of Audlem Road.

Planning officers had recommended the scheme be refused because the site is in the open countryside, the design and layout was considered poor and because of no assessment regarding biodiversity.

But several members of the southern planning committee said they were confused by the application, after hearing this was not the scheme the developer wanted to put forward.

Audlem Parish Council and Cheshire East ward councillor Rachel Bailey (Con) had also both requested the application be deferred rather than refused.

Parish councillor Geoff Seddon told Wednesday’s committee meeting: “Audlem Parish Council finds itself in the invidious situation where it is supportive of an application which goes against its own neighbourhood plan.”

He said the scheme would provide much needed two and three bedroom houses in Audlem and a pedestrian crossing on Cheshire Street.

He asked for a deferral so a public meeting could be held to ask the view of residents.

Cllr Bailey, speaking as a visiting councillor, also asked for the application to be deferred and she pointed out the consultation period did not end until midday of that day’s committee meeting.

Richard Walters, speaking on behalf of the applicant, told the committee: “It’s premature to be making a decision on this application.”

He said the council’s officers had taken five months until the middle of August to say they weren’t happy with the design and then not given time for the applicant to address the concerns.

“The officers decided they would bring it to committee today. This isn’t the scheme that we would be presenting to address those designs,” said Mr Walters.

Cllr Joy Bratherton (Crewe East, Lab) said: “Let’s defer it and let’s let the developer and the officers and the parish council have further discussion, let them talk to the residents of Audlem.”

But committee chair Andrew Kolker (Dane Valley, Con) disagreed.

He said local consultation via a public meeting which would “effectively make that policy on the hoof, is a dangerous precedent”.

“If there was any chance of coming to a resolution by deferring… then absolutely, but I can’t see us ever getting past the fact that the reason for refusal is it’s in open countryside, outside the settlement boundary and contrary to both local and neighbourhood plan,” he said.

Cllr Allen Gage (Willaston & Rope, Con) proposed the application be deferred because of design issues.

This was later seconded by Cllr Laura Smith (Crewe South, Lab) who said: “I don’t quite understand how we’ve got this in front of us when it’s not what the developer wants. I can’t make a decision when I don’t understand what is going on.”

Wrenbury councillor Stan Davies (Con) said: “I don’t think I can make a decision sensibly on what I know.”

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con) agreed with Cllr Kolker saying, even if was deferred it wouldn’t address the issue that it wasn’t compliant with current planning policies and she moved refusal.

Crewe councillor Anthony Critchley (Lab) raised concerns about the consultation not having ended.

“I’m conscious that if we do refuse we are open to the legal side of things taking over and we’re susceptible to losing based on this consultation being in an hour’s time [when it’s closed],” he said.

The vote was taken to defer the application and this was defeated by seven votes to four.

The committee then voted by seven to four to refuse the scheme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website, to learn more please read our privacy policy.


Captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.