Council had no choice but to support housing plan

Recriminations abound in your pages, not least the Letters page, but in the end Malvern Hills District Council did not have too many practical alternatives other than support the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).

Successive legislation, culminating in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and now the NPPF 2012 enjoins "strategic" (long term) planning and collaborative working between councils.

The once briefly espoused CPG version of the SWDP (favoured far too late in the day by various people across the political spectrum), proposed a different allocation of housing but totally ignored national planning rules.

It would have produced a worse situation for a longer time than we now see, more expense but no fewer houses in the end.

Districts such as our own simply cannot go it alone and build no houses or maybe two or three nice little pockets of "des res" villas here or there, plus a sprinkling of affordables for the servants. This is cloud cuckoo land.

Look down from the hills and you will see that the majority of our inhabitants already live in estates – far from soulless in my experience – built by the much-maligned developers.

Our job is to plan sufficient homes for our 20 to 40-year-olds to step on to the housing ladder and build a life here, but at the same time protect the most valuable landscapes and farm lands that so fill our imaginations and attract the world outside.

There have been signs recently that planning inspectors are not completely sold on any supposed lack of five-year land supply: they have been refusing the genuinely unsustainable.

What matters most is "sustainability," as defined in the NPPF. Amen to that. Level heads are wanted, not rolling ones.

Chris Cheeseman,

District Councillor,

Malvern Wells

Comments (5)

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1:35pm Fri 21 Mar 14

sarah and her chickens says...

Another random ramble from Cllr Cheesman. On the one hand we have Cllr Hughs saying how involved in the swdp MHDC were. Now we have his side kuck saying they had no other choice than to go along with it. As many have said both resident and cpuncillor alike our problem from the start has been weak leadership and a lack of full councillor and resident involvement. After one appeal win he now declares all is well. His party now ask for residents to tell them where to develop. Well shame they did not listen pre SWDP. Shame they did not ask as openly as this then. Too little to late from a crumbling administration.
Please Clkr Cheesman tell us where in the Wells are you going to build. Or are you sitting smugly knowing you are protected by the AONB.
Another random ramble from Cllr Cheesman. On the one hand we have Cllr Hughs saying how involved in the swdp MHDC were. Now we have his side kuck saying they had no other choice than to go along with it. As many have said both resident and cpuncillor alike our problem from the start has been weak leadership and a lack of full councillor and resident involvement. After one appeal win he now declares all is well. His party now ask for residents to tell them where to develop. Well shame they did not listen pre SWDP. Shame they did not ask as openly as this then. Too little to late from a crumbling administration. Please Clkr Cheesman tell us where in the Wells are you going to build. Or are you sitting smugly knowing you are protected by the AONB. sarah and her chickens
  • Score: 2

4:30pm Sun 23 Mar 14

zymurgiac says...

Chris Cheeseman seems to be between a rock and a hard place and it's easy to be sorry for him. Here we have the Conservative housing planning policies creating deep dismay among their erstwhile supporters and he has to go on blithely singing the praises of his party's policy. Mind you, as Vice chair of the Conservative party in West Worcestershire he probably has to.
And what about this CPG initiative that might have saved us all from the terrors of much delayed South Worcestershire Development Plan? Wasn't this the move by the Green Party and its supporters and was designed to rewrite the Plan? And had the move been successful, would the adoption of the plan been even more delayed giving housing developers even more time to wreck our countryside?
The only places in our county that seem to have any sort of protection from development are those in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the AONB. Places such as Malvern Wells and West Malvern. Does anyone know where Chris and Sarah live?
Chris Cheeseman seems to be between a rock and a hard place and it's easy to be sorry for him. Here we have the Conservative housing planning policies creating deep dismay among their erstwhile supporters and he has to go on blithely singing the praises of his party's policy. Mind you, as Vice chair of the Conservative party in West Worcestershire he probably has to. And what about this CPG initiative that might have saved us all from the terrors of much delayed South Worcestershire Development Plan? Wasn't this the move by the Green Party and its supporters and was designed to rewrite the Plan? And had the move been successful, would the adoption of the plan been even more delayed giving housing developers even more time to wreck our countryside? The only places in our county that seem to have any sort of protection from development are those in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the AONB. Places such as Malvern Wells and West Malvern. Does anyone know where Chris and Sarah live? zymurgiac
  • Score: 0

6:55pm Sun 23 Mar 14

sarah and her chickens says...

I assume Cllr Cheesman lives in the Wells. I live in a village that if we had of had a five year housing supply would have had no new homes under the swdp. However as MHDC failed to display a five year supply and failed to have a local plan we are now having 100 more homes built . If not more.
So I feel fully justified that MHDC and the planning department have let us down. They had but one job to do. Maintain a five year housing supply. Not a 3.36 year housing supply.
I expect the latest refusal of a development in the AONB will go through on appeal. We will wait and see what happens in Rothwell rd. Cheesmans door step.
I assume Cllr Cheesman lives in the Wells. I live in a village that if we had of had a five year housing supply would have had no new homes under the swdp. However as MHDC failed to display a five year supply and failed to have a local plan we are now having 100 more homes built . If not more. So I feel fully justified that MHDC and the planning department have let us down. They had but one job to do. Maintain a five year housing supply. Not a 3.36 year housing supply. I expect the latest refusal of a development in the AONB will go through on appeal. We will wait and see what happens in Rothwell rd. Cheesmans door step. sarah and her chickens
  • Score: 2

9:23pm Sun 23 Mar 14

sarah and her chickens says...

I seem to remember also that the CPG was actualy a cross party group. At the Bank house meeting councillors from all parties spoke in favour of it. Conservative Hannah Campbell ,Lib dem Tom Wells and greens and Independents.
But the leaders should not have arrived at that night in such chaos. As we now know we are twelve months away from the plan being adopted. .
I seem to remember also that the CPG was actualy a cross party group. At the Bank house meeting councillors from all parties spoke in favour of it. Conservative Hannah Campbell ,Lib dem Tom Wells and greens and Independents. But the leaders should not have arrived at that night in such chaos. As we now know we are twelve months away from the plan being adopted. . sarah and her chickens
  • Score: 1

3:54pm Mon 24 Mar 14

chrism says...

Gosh what a load of weasel words from Cllr Cheeseman. I don't think he actually understands how the planning system works or what "sustainable" actually means under the terms of the NPPF. I doubt he's actually read and understood any of the recent appeal decisions, let alone attended an inquiry - I should point out that in contrast at least one of his fellow councillors has actually spoke at a planning inquiry on the issue of sustainability.

For those who might be taken in by his words, let me explain what "sustainable" means under the NPPF. Economically sustainable means approving a plan in a village with no local shop on the grounds of money being spent 5 miles away. Environmentally sustainable means approving a plan which will result in everybody driving to do anything (remember no local shop, and also no realistic local employment for new residents), and the permanent loss of a gateway view of the Malvern Hills. So much for protecting the most valuable landscapes. Socially sustainable means approving multiple developments in a village such that the local school will likely become oversubscribed and children will have to be driven at least 3 miles to the next nearest school. Given Cllr Cheeseman's apparent ignorance of the planning system, I'm sure it will be news to him to find that the latter issue is not even one which can be presented at a planning inquiry, as each application is considered on its own merits, ignoring all other live applications. It is only the existence of a 5 year HLS which allows such considerations to be made properly at a local level.

I find it somewhat remarkable for Cllr Cheeseman to suggest that planning inspectors are not sold on the lack of a 5 year HLS (no supposedly about it) on the basis of a single recent refusal because of the existence of protected bats. It's also worth pointing out that this appeal would undoubtedly have been allowed had Malvern Hills fought on its own - the issue of the bats which prevented permission was only on the table because of the persistence of a 3rd party. I don't think Cllr Cheeseman is in any position to crow about MHDC success (it is far from an isolated incident - in another recent appeal, the evidence from MHDC was dismissed and only the evidence introduced by a 3rd party was considered as a significant reason for refusal - although unfortunately in that case it was not enough).
Gosh what a load of weasel words from Cllr Cheeseman. I don't think he actually understands how the planning system works or what "sustainable" actually means under the terms of the NPPF. I doubt he's actually read and understood any of the recent appeal decisions, let alone attended an inquiry - I should point out that in contrast at least one of his fellow councillors has actually spoke at a planning inquiry on the issue of sustainability. For those who might be taken in by his words, let me explain what "sustainable" means under the NPPF. Economically sustainable means approving a plan in a village with no local shop on the grounds of money being spent 5 miles away. Environmentally sustainable means approving a plan which will result in everybody driving to do anything (remember no local shop, and also no realistic local employment for new residents), and the permanent loss of a gateway view of the Malvern Hills. So much for protecting the most valuable landscapes. Socially sustainable means approving multiple developments in a village such that the local school will likely become oversubscribed and children will have to be driven at least 3 miles to the next nearest school. Given Cllr Cheeseman's apparent ignorance of the planning system, I'm sure it will be news to him to find that the latter issue is not even one which can be presented at a planning inquiry, as each application is considered on its own merits, ignoring all other live applications. It is only the existence of a 5 year HLS which allows such considerations to be made properly at a local level. I find it somewhat remarkable for Cllr Cheeseman to suggest that planning inspectors are not sold on the lack of a 5 year HLS (no supposedly about it) on the basis of a single recent refusal because of the existence of protected bats. It's also worth pointing out that this appeal would undoubtedly have been allowed had Malvern Hills fought on its own - the issue of the bats which prevented permission was only on the table because of the persistence of a 3rd party. I don't think Cllr Cheeseman is in any position to crow about MHDC success (it is far from an isolated incident - in another recent appeal, the evidence from MHDC was dismissed and only the evidence introduced by a 3rd party was considered as a significant reason for refusal - although unfortunately in that case it was not enough). chrism
  • Score: 0

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