Homeowners of 263 properties that were retrospectively denied planning permission are set to learn the fates of their homes this month.
Coppenhall Place in Crewe, a newly constructed housing development, had its planning permission revoked last year due to its developer failing to address a condition pertaining to contaminated land.
Despite this, the homes were still sold and even moved into leaving them in limbo as to what will happen to them and whether they will be made homeless. A decision is finally set to be made this month by Cheshire East Council.
Why was the planning revoked?
Coppenhall Place was granted planning permission in 2018, but was subject to various planning conditions being met.
However, in 2020, the developer provided the council with information to support the discharge of conditions relating to land contamination to deal with potential asbestos, lead, cyanide and arsenic from the land previously being used as the site of a Bombardier train factory.
Although, Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council's environment and communities committee, said: "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."
Why did development continue?
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.
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 it was not deemed appropriate to begin enforcement action against the developer.
A spokesperson at Countryside Properties stated: “Our original planning application was recommended for approval by Council officers. Since that application was deferred by the Council’s Strategic Planning Committee, we provided all of the information requested by the Council in order to satisfy the original planning permission."
However, the council claim it 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, the planning permission was refused for the development.
MP questions how 'it could have happened?'
The matter was raised in the House of Commons by Crewe and Nantwich MP Kieran Mullan about how the development was allowed to continue.
She stated: “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.”
Penny Mordaunt MP also questioned in the House of Commons "How in God’s name it could have happened" as she asked how the local authority was able to enable and watch the homes be built.
She continued: "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.”
Homeowners to be updated this month
After almost a year of waiting, the homeowners are now prepared to learn the future of the properties this month.
Cheshire East Council has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service says the fate of the homes are to be resolved in the next few weeks.
A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "Over the last few months, council officers have continued to work closely with the developers of Coppenhall Place to ensure that each reason for the application being deferred is addressed, and so that strategic planning board members have all the necessary information once the application is presented back to them.
"It is currently expected that the application will be presented back to the strategic planning board in September.”
However, as the developer of the site, the council claim the developer has direct responsibilities to purchasers of property on the site.
A spokesperson from the developers of the site, Countryside Properties, said: “We recognise the concern and disruption this issue is causing to residents and we are seeking to resolve it as quickly as possible.
“We are keeping residents updated on this process and have dedicated channels available to contact us regarding this matter.”
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.