Danes Moss Housing Considerations
The current housing build targets in Cheshire East are defined in the Local Plan(1) that was approved in 2016. This defined a minimum build of 36,000 new houses across the Borough in the period 2010-2030. For Macclesfield itself, a figure of 4250 was specified. This was produced from the level of build that had already occurred by March 2016 (692), the number of planning permissions given at the time (812) and the remainder from the submitted strategic sites (2750) that were outlined for development(2).
Yearly updates on housing development are given by CEC in the ‘Housing completions and supply’ documents(3), which include a breakdown for Macclesfield. In March 2022, there was a ‘supply’ of 5071 houses, made up as in figure 1 (target value of 4250 shown as the red line).
There had been 1853 housing completions, permission given for 712 (non-strategic) houses and there were 2041 permissions granted on strategic sites (including Danes Moss) with a further 465 houses yet to be given planning permission on strategic sites.
Clearly, the ‘supply’ is currently far greater than the figure required for Macclesfield in the Local Plan, by 821 houses. The reason for this is twofold:
- the level of ‘windfall’ development – houses that come through the planning system that weren’t part of Local Plan assignment – has exceeded expectation
- the housing provision on strategic sites has been higher than originally assumed
For windfall housing, apart from the 1504 houses that had been built or had planning granted (March 2016), there was an allowance for 500 new houses in Central Macclesfield (strategic site LPS12). This gives a total of 2004 houses, yet the supply figures from March 2022 show 1787 windfall completions and 712 windfall permissions, so 2499 houses in total; already 495 greater than originally assumed. The rate of windfall completion in Macclesfield is shown in figure 2, which includes a prediction for remainder of the Local Plan period if the average 2010-2021 level continues, of around 150 properties per year. On this basis, windfall build could approach 3000 houses by 2030, and the total housing supply would well exceed 5500 houses if all strategic sites are built.
On the strategic sites (ignoring LPS12 already mentioned) – the assumed figure of 2250 houses had increased to 2407 – of which 2107 have at least outline permission granted.
As a result of the above, the 950 houses given outline permission on Danes Moss (reserved matters permission not yet granted, outline application 18/1784M) could be removed from the figures and the supply would still be 4121. The target of 4250 will be reached with an increase in supply of just 129 houses over the forthcoming 8-year period, via either further windfall build or increased housing numbers on the strategic sites.
Danes Moss is a challenging site for development, largely because of the underlying peat soils which exceed 5m in depth in places. This has affected the site viability and led to a reduction in the planned provision of affordable houses from the usual 30% to only 11%. As such, when compared to development on other sites, the amount of affordable housing provision would be far smaller, in fact a reduction of 180 affordable houses in Macclesfield would result.
In conclusion, further development on Danes Moss is not required for the Macclesfield Local Plan housing targets to be met, and it would be very poor for the delivery of affordable houses if the site were preferred over less ‘difficult’ sites.
(Feature picture of housing designs taken from the reserved matters plans)
1. Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy 2010-2030: (www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ planning/spatial-planning/ cheshire_east_local_ plan/local-plan-strategy/ local_plan_strategy.aspx)
2. Macclesfield Final Site Selection Report: cheshireeast-consult.objective.co.uk /resources/portal/ supportingfiles/459334
3. Cheshire East Council Housing completions and supply: (www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ planning/spatial-planning/ research_and_ evidence/ strategic_housing_land_ assmnt/housing-land-supply.aspx)