Property company claims council’s figures misleading

Alsager-headquartered Muller Property Group has claimed that nearly one in four homes that Cheshire East Council says it has granted planning consent for were actually approved on appeal.

The authority said it is “more than pulling its weight” to tackle the national housing crisis and, as of March last year, had given the greenlight for over 20,441 new homes but Muller Property Group claims planning permission for at least 4,300 (21% of the total homes approved) was granted on appeal.

According to Muller, Cheshire East Council used valuable resources and spent millions on lawyers, legal counsel and expert witnesses fighting the applications. Muller also said that while Cheshire East bosses boasted that 10 major sites “recorded housing completions more than 50% higher than expected”, five of the 10 were among the sites refused by the council and later given the go-ahead at appeal.

Housing completions rose year on year from 614 homes in 2012/13 to 1,763 in 2016/17. But Muller said that figure is still short of the council’s Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) target of 1,800 homes per year. The company’s findings also claim that since April 2010, Cheshire East Council has created a deficit of 5,365 homes against its OAN target.

Muller Property Group chief exec Colin Muller said: “Cheshire East claims that in 2017/18 completions will exceed 2,000.

“But in order to meet the council’s own five year land supply targets this would need to be in excess of 3,000, so 2,000 is not exactly an achievement.”

Muller Property Group reported that Sean Hannaby, Cheshire East Council’s director of planning and environment, said the authority “[needs] to concentrate on getting homes built, not releasing yet more land into the system’.

According to Colin Muller, the council must do exactly this if it is to make a meaningful contribution to addressing the housing shortage.

He continued: “Building houses doesn’t happen overnight, but they will never get built if permission is refused in the first place.

“For the council to claim that they granted permission for 20,441 homes is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

“If they had had their way there would be at least 4,300 fewer homes in the pipeline, and the housing situation in east Cheshire would be in an even worse state than it is now.”

Image: Colin Muller, chief exec of Muller Property Group

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