Planning Application – land at Dickens Heath Road/Cleobury Lane

Planning application 2014/1032  20141032 – Report by the Head of Development Management     was approved by Solihull’s Planning Committee when it met on 6 August. The application, made by Catesby Estates, sought permission for: 

Outline planning application for the demolition of all existing buildings and structures and the development of up to 130 dwellings (use class c3), multi-use games area, means of access and associated works with all other matters (relating to appearance, landscaping, layout and scale) reserved.

The application was a resubmission of ref: 2013/1504. This application was refused by the same committee in January of this year because the site was designated as a ‘Phase Three’ site within the boroughs’ Local Development Plan (LDP) –  set for release from April 2023. Unfortunately, due to a legal challenge against the LDP by Gallagher’s and Lioncourt Homes, in respect of two sites in Tidbury Green, the judgement made at the High Court on 30 April means that the housing requirements set out in the Local Plan can no longer be applied. This crucially underpinned the five year housing Land requirements for the borough i.e. there is a need for the Council to demonstrate that it has sufficient land to meet the needs of the next five years. In short, the judgement means that instead of identifying 11,000 new homes for development in the LDP the council should identify as many as 14,000. This means we can not argue we have a five year housing supply and all phase two and three sites in the LDP were brought forward for consideration. Catesby Estates are the first developers to seek planning permission as a result of the judgement, but there are others in the system. In addition, because of the High Court judgement Catesby estates also appealed to the planning inspectorate against the decision made by the councils’ planning committee in January – this appeal was to be heard from 4 September 2014 (Appeal notice posted here: Appeal notification )In a nutshell the council is in between a rock and a hard place and despite some claims to the contrary, the judgement against the LDP was critical of the decisions made by the planning inspector (who signed off the LDP as being sound) and not Solihull Council. I have posted the report from the judgement here: Gallagher v Solihull MBC

The council is naturally at odds with this judgement, especially as the LDP was delivered over a period of time, with consultation with parish councils, and finally agreed by the planning inspector. Solihull was the first council in the Midlands to adopt its local plan. The council therefore sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. This took a few weeks to secure but leave to appeal was granted in an order by Lord Justice Sullivan who stated, “The grounds of the appeal have a real prospect of success and there is a compelling reason for this appeal to be heard. Both grounds raise questions as to the proper interpretation of the NPPF (national planning policy framework) which are of wider significance”. This is the good news. The bad news is that, although the order grants an expedited appeal to be heard, it will not be allocated court time until the first term after the summer break. This was a crucial aspect in relation to the Dickens Heath Road application, and with the appeal hearing to the planning inspectorate set for just a few weeks time the planning policy statement  delivered at the planning committee hearing meant the members adjudicating could not, in law, refuse this application because if had been designated for release from April 2023. The relevant policy statements are posted here: planning_policy_statement planning_policy_statement_technical_appendix .

 I was not able to address the planning committee in person this time (I had done so in January) because I was chairing another committee meeting at the time. Fellow ward councillor Richard Holt did so and the chair of the planning committee, Cllr David Bell, read out my submission to members. My submission is posted here: DH Rd application . 

Acknowledging the position the council was in, although I still desired a refusal for this application on phasing grounds, in discussions with Catesby Estates and the council’s planning officers I sought a condition (condition 18 in the officers report) to secure a construction management plan when an application for detailed planning is submitted. This will ensure a route for construction vehicles access to the site to avoid the main Dickens Heath Village route. I was also pleased that the developers had consultations with the parish council to secure either a multi use games area (MUGA) on the new site, or a payment to the parish council if they wished to secure premises/area for young people elsewhere in the village. You will also see that on page 10 of the officers report to the planning committee a sum in excess of £1m has been secured to ensure schools, highways, bio-diversity and health service issues can be sustained. Although this sum may still have been secured via any appeal, or when the land was eventually released (in April 2023) it is not certain.

I have posted here the illustrative master plan for the site illustrative_masterplan  but the final details will be decided when a further application (termed ‘reserved matters’) goes to the planning committee. We do not know when this is going to happen, but Catesby Estates will now pass on the outline planning permission to a construction developer who will then submit further planning applications to show the detail regarding housing type etc. They will also have to address all the conditions in the current planning application before construction starts. This further application may take several weeks, even months; this is needed before any construction can begin.

In relation to Dickens Heath Village itself: following the collapse of the management company a few years ago there was a period of stagnation, mainly because of the economic crisis. I can report a developer, to complete the works (Garden Squares and highways), has been identified by BNP Parabas, who are acting on behalf of administrators. I am informed these talks, which have been on-going for a while now, are detailed but progress is being made. I hope to have good news to tell residents in the near future.

Please feel free to make comments about this post here or via email to me on khawkins@solihull.gov.uk . I fully appreciate there will be many residents who will still be unhappy at the decision to grant planning permission but hopefully I have provided the rationale behind it. In short, the boroughs’ own democratically secured local development plan has been called into question by greedy developers (Gallagher’s and Lioncourt Homes) who found land they owned had been placed back into the green belt. Hopefully, when the council wins the hearing at the Court of Appeal the housing numbers identified in the local plan can be reinstated.


2 thoughts on “Planning Application – land at Dickens Heath Road/Cleobury Lane

  1. Solihull was not the first council in the Midlans to adopt it’s Local Plan. In fact the majority of Coincils in the WEST Midlands had theirs adopted by Spring 2011.
    Failure of the Solihull Conservatives to get its plan adopted within the requisit timescale is the cause of all the current planning issues.

    Cllr Howard Allen
    2015 General a Election Candidate for The Green Party

  2. Mmmmm! Nice to see Howard has the time to read my website – and, as usual he tries to make political capital out of it; this site has no mention of politics for the good reason the public are turned off by political clap trap. However, I have not deleted the post because, between the dogma, a serious question is asked. The answer is:
    Solihull WAS THE FIRST council in the Midlands to adopt the ‘New Style’ Local Plan – as described in the National Planning Policy Framework (2012). Therefore, the council should be praised in getting it done far quicker than many others in the UK. Also, is Howard stating that there would have been no challenge via a judicial review if it had got through any quicker than it did? It is the judicial review judgment, into the decisions of the planning inspector, that is causing problems not anything the council did or did not do.

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