CC Sir Bill Cash MP, the Department for Communities & Local Government, Cheadle Town Council, Press.
Housing Allocation for Cheadle
Dear Simon Baker & SMDC Planning Department,
As you are aware Cheadle Residents have raised a petition to the House of Commons to have our planned housing development targets reduced from 1320 to 880 properties over the planning period covering to 2031. The petition is attached as are the petition notes. These were forwarded to you on the 15th January 2015.
The petition was presented in the House of Commons on the 11th of December 2014.
We have received the following response from The Department for Communities and Local Government (the full response P001411 (William Cash) is attached).
The Statement (26th January 2015) includes the following text:
This Government do not set national housing targets or require councils to provide more houses than are needed. Our abolition of regional strategies decentralised decision making on matters such as housing provision to localauthorities and communities, enabling them to plan for growth and other priorities in their areas. We are supporting this process through the duty to co-operate which requires councils to work together constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis in planning for strategic matters in their local plans.
The Framework only asks local councils to identify and plan to meet the objectively assessed needs of their communities based on robust evidence. When preparing plans, councils should assess the development needs for their areas and identify appropriate sites for development to meet this need. The Government trust local councils to make the right decisions to ensure that the options taken forward in plans are justified and take into account local people’s views.
Anyone with an interest in a local plan may make representations on it. The council must consider the representations before deciding whether to submit the plan for public examination in front of an independent inspector. Anyone with an interest in the plan may request to appear at the hearing.
Examination will test in particular whether a plan is consistent with national policy, and recognises constraints such as the need for provision of infrastructure and the prioritisation of the re-use of brownfield land. It also considers adherence to legal requirements, what account has been taken of public views, and whether the strategy that the plan proposes is the most appropriate in the light of reasonable alternatives.
The text clearly states that decisions on housing provision are now given to local authorities and communities with a duty of co-operation between councils, with a framework only requiring they meet the needs of their communities based on robust evidence and that examination will test in particular whether a plan is consistent with national policy, and recognised constraints such as the need for provision of infrastructure and the prioritisation of the reuse of Brownfied land and to account for public views.
We believe that you have been aware that housing provision levels are now set locally for many months now.
Given the above,
At local level:
For over 10 years residents of Cheadle have made it clear that various infrastructure constraints exist around Cheadle limiting expansion, further, residents do not aspire to a huge swell in the population, as well as objections to use of agricultural land and to damaging the character and aspirations of the town including tourism (Pugin Church, Alton Towers and Churnet valley, local railways, walks etc). All of which appear to have been ignored by SMDC. Cheadle has the potential to attract tourism by avoiding ‘Clone Britain’ if it is allowed to retain it’s identity. The Pugin Church and local amenities, plus our location near to Alton Towers have the potential to secure wealth and prosperity for the region. We have already expressed opinions on this as far back as the Cheadle Town Master Plan (Dec 2010).
Local demand as per your own core strategy & reference documents identify:
Between 1991 & 2001 Staffordshire Moorlands recorded a ‘decline in population driven by natural change as a result of falling birth rates’ (SMDC Core strategy page 20)
SMDC detail that Migration accounted for 70.4% of demand in 2007 (SMDC Core strategy page 21)
SMDC population is 95,400 (2009) Predicted growth to 2026 is 100,200 a growth of only 4800 or (SMDC core strategy page 24, quoting the Office for National Statistics). (a growth 5%), but your plans to date target an increase of 13,458 an excessive increase of 14.1%
The 2012 Sub National Population Projection (SNPP) now predicts a significant reduction in population growth for High Peak and the Staffordshire Moorlands (See below)
Despite this and given the need for some level of housing, Action groups around Cheadle have conceded to development of Area 1 (North Cheadle) with the highest sustainability assessment score, as and when the needs of the community dictate the need, (given that there are already 550 urban sites that have been identified) subject to assurance that the local infrastructure can cope and compensation for affected residents. This would yield a total provision of 880 dwellings to 2031.
In our local region including our City, Stoke-on-Trent and the Potteries
We have made numerous requests for evidence and engagement between SMDC and Stoke City and the Potteries councils (Including Newcastle-under-Lyne) to ensure Brownfield sites are a planning priority. We believe this is very important for the local region given the collapse of the ‘Renew’ Regeneration project and the many acres of derelict and waste Brownfied Sites that exist around the Potteries.
In your own Strategic Housing Market Assessment 10th June 2014, it clearly states:
2.31 As a consequence NLP emphasises that under the Duty to Co-operate
Staffordshire Moorlands Council must continue to liaise with Stoke on Trent
Council and other nearby authorities to ensure that housing needs are met in
full at a strategic level
The only information that we have been given (after making repeated FOI requests) shows little evidence of any ongoing drive by SMDC to reduce our housing targets or of any deep and meaningful collaboration with the Potteries. Correspondence from S-o-T and the Planning Inspector’s documentation (Jan 2014) both indicate that S-o-T identified significant benefits in SMDC reducing it’s housing targets, to ensure regeneration of the Potteries. This would ensure developers focus on these areas. Further it was made clear that N-U-L and Stoke City Council were struggling to attract significant levels of housing development.
This situation is not considered acceptable to very many Cheadle Residents.