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Residents victorious over plan for home on shared green space

Residents of Penrith Court, in West Heath, Congleton, are celebrating after a planning application for a three-bedroom detached house on a small plot of land at the end of their cul-de-sac was refused by the borough council.

The planning application was first submitted in March by a developer from Leeds, following several attempts to sell small plots of green space on the estate by original builder Percy Bilton.

The residents of Penrith Court said they were surprised when they heard that the plot of land had been put up for sale, as Cheshire East Council had been maintaining the area for many years, and everyone assumed that it owned the land.

Penrith Court is part of a well-established estate, and the green space has been part of the estate’s since it went up in the 1970s. A mature Rowan tree stands in the space.

After it was submitted, Coun Suzie Akers Smith “called in” the application so that the case could be assessed by councillors, and Coun Heather Seddon progressed it.

The majority of planning applications which are submitted to Cheshire East Planning Authority are dealt with by planning officers but councillors can call in a planning application, so that the application is assessed by a committee.

The date for the planning meeting for Penrith Court had been scheduled for 2nd August. As ward councillors are allowed to speak at planning committee meetings, as are members of the public, preparations were well advanced.

But in the end, the planning meeting was not needed, as officers made the decision to refuse the application on 14th June.

Coun Seddon said: “It was really important that this case was initially called in, because although this planning application was for a single house – which are usually dealt with by planning officers – developing this small plot of land would have set a precedent for the development of similar green spaces on well-established estates throughout the borough.

“Working with resident Graham Goodwin, we knew there was a limited amount of time to get our points across in the planning meeting, but we were confident that we could emphasise why the development should not proceed.

“Developing this green space would have been in breach of various planning regulations from the Cheshire East local plan strategy, including one on green infrastructure and also a newer policy called REC 1, introduced in December 2022, which protects green spaces that are of public value.”

She added: “I am delighted that the charming green space at the end of Penrith Court has been saved from development, so that future generations of residents can enjoy this pleasant part of their road for generations to come.

“We know that living near green spaces plays a really important part in people’s health and well-being, so it’s fantastic news that the planning application has been refused.”

Mr Goodwin told the Chronicle: “We have to now wait to see if the applicant appeals the decision – which is an option open to them – although an appeal appears to stand little chance of success and would entail additional expense to the developer.”


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