- 1st December 2017
- Posted by: Joanne Woodhouse
- Category: Projects
In 2012, Cheshire East Council began the process of producing a new Local Plan for the Borough. The Local Plan sets planning policies and allocates sites for development. It is part of the statutory development plan for Cheshire East and is the basis for deciding planning applications. The Local Plan covers a range of matters including:
- The number and location of new homes
- The amount and location of employment land
- Protection and improvement of important open areas
- Provision of new infrastructure
- Improvement of town centres and community facilities in the borough.
Due to the number of European designated sites in and around the Borough, the vulnerabilities of these sites and the Plan being developed, there was the potential for likely significant effects to occur on several European designated nature Conservation Sites. Between 2012 and 2017, we were commissioned to undertake the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) at each stage of development of the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy.
As part of the HRA work we identified, described and assessed the likely significant effects of implementing the strategy and policies on European designated sites within and around Cheshire East. E.g. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Ramsar sites. We thoroughly appraised each policy in relation to the sites’ conservation objectives, looking at interesting features and vulnerabilities to identify where likely significant effects may arise. Where these were identified a more detailed Appropriate Assessment was conducted, and avoidance and mitigation measures were proposed.
Following submission of the Local Plan Strategy to the Secretary of State for Public Examination in 2014, the Inspector required the Council to undertake further work on a number of matters. This included its economic and housing strategies, green belt assessment and spatial distribution of development. We provided support to the Council at the public examination hearings for the Local Plan Strategy, where we gave evidence and responded to questions from the Inspector.
In July 2017, the Planning Inspector reported that, following a number of Main Modifications, the Local Plan Strategy would be sound, legally compliant and capable of adoption. The HRA produced at each stage of the Local Plan Strategy’s development has helped to ensure the soundness of the plan. Following this work, we have recently been commissioned to produce the HRA for two more sections of the local plan:
- Part Two – site allocations and development plan documents
- Part Three – minerals and waste strategy.