Coppenhall Place in Crewe discussed at Westminster amid 'step up' claims

By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter

26th May 2023 | Local News

The new homes on the former Bombardier site in Crewe (Image - Google)
The new homes on the former Bombardier site in Crewe (Image - Google)

A Crewe housing estate has been discussed in parliament.

Cheshire East Council and Brentwood-based developer Countryside need to 'step up and deliver on their moral obligations' to people living on a Crewe housing estate with no planning permission, the House of Commons leader has said.

Penny Mordaunt MP also wondered 'how in God's name it could have happened'.

This was as she was responding to a question from Crewe and Nantwich MP Kieran Mullan (Con) about the plight of residents living at Coppenhall Place in west Crewe.

Penny Mourdant MP, pictured in 2019. (Image - CC 2.0 Free-to-use image from the Jordan: Growth and Opportunity Conference in London, 28 February 2019 Credit: Rich Taylor/DFID Unchanged https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jordan_Conference_2019_1_(40272748453).jpg)

As first revealed by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the recently built Coppenhall Place, which is on the site of the former Crewe Works off West Street, was granted planning permission in 2018.

That permission was lost last year because developer Countryside Partnerships failed to deal with a condition relating to contaminated land.

But most of the 263 homes are now occupied.

Yesterday (Thursday) Dr Mullan raised the matter in the House of Commons.

Conservative Dr Kieran Mullan was elected as Crewe's MP in 2019. (Image - CC 3.0 Unchanged Richard Townshend https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Official_portrait_of_Dr_Kieran_Mullan_MP_crop_1.jpg)

"I have been supporting hundreds of residents of Coppenhall Place who overnight found themselves living in homes without planning permission, never expecting that, between them, Countryside and Labour and Independent-led Cheshire East Council would let them down so badly," said the Crewe and Nantwich MP.

"I welcome Countryside's commitment this week to cover residents' out-of-pocket costs, but will my right hon. friend ask for a minister to meet me to discuss how we can get all the residents a full investigation and the full compensation package that they deserve?"

Ms Mordaunt replied: "When I hear about such situations, I wonder how in God's name it could have happened. How on earth does a local authority enable and watch homes being built, in the full knowledge that they have not been through the systems in its planning department?

"This is a disgraceful situation, and the developer and the local authority need to step up and deliver on their moral obligations to the individuals who bought those homes in good faith."

A fountain at Cheshire East Council HQ. (Image - Alexander Greensmith / Crewe Nub News)

She suggested the matter be raised at the next Levelling Up, Housing and Communities questions on June 5 as, 'the Secretary of State takes a dim view of local authorities and planning authorities that do not adhere to their obligations to their residents'.

Two months ago, Cheshire East's strategic planning board deferred an application from Countryside to regularise the development. It was deferred for a peer review regarding the contaminated land issue and for an open book viability financial assessment to see whether it was appropriate to ask the developer for further contributions.

No date has yet been set for when the application will be considered again by the council..

Shortly after that meeting the LDRS asked Cheshire East why its enforcement officers didn't stop the developer from building until the contaminated land condition had been discharged.

Jane Gowing, interim director of planning at Cheshire East Council, said: "In 2020, the developer provided the council with information to support the discharge of conditions relating to land contamination.

"While this information was being reviewed, the council continued discussions with the developer so that enough information could be provided to resolve these issues.

"However, despite considerable time and effort, the council was not satisfied with the submitted information and refused the application to discharge the condition in 2022.

"During this time, the developer had started and continued to build on site, but due to ongoing efforts to resolve matters and considering national guidance and legal precedents regarding taking formal action, it was not deemed appropriate to begin enforcement action against the developer.

"However, it is important to make clear that prior to the construction of foundations of any properties on the development, the council had notified the developer that a failure to discharge conditions relating to land contamination may render the development unlawful, and that any further development would be entirely at their own risk.

"Because the developer had begun works on the site before that condition had been discharged, it was deemed that planning permission had been lost for the development in 2022, at the point the condition discharge application had been refused."

READ MORE: Crewe-born artist expands prints range of hometown landmarks

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