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Macclesfield Tesco

The reputation of Cheshire East Planning is under some pressure due to the Lyme Green situation.  The controversial Tesco application in Macclesfield may have been seen as an opportunity to try to play politics to try to restore the reputation of the Conservatives as standing up for local traders. Rather than wait for the Strategic Planning Board to discuss the matter properly and to reach their decision following due process, Cllr Michael Jones spoke up at a business breakfast in Macclesfield, leading to the front page headline “Council boss says NO to Tesco mega store plans”.

If the council leader had made clear that he was expressing his own personal views then we would not have had a problem.  However, the impression was given that the Leader of the Council said that the planning application would be rejected  The Leader of the Council could easily be seen to be in a position to influence planning committees. Therefore if the planning application is eventually rejected by the Strategic Planning Board, then Tesco could argue that the decision was pre-determined and sue the council for costs.

The Localism Bill relaxed the rules on pre-determination, so that local councillors could speak more freely about local issues.  Cllr Michael Jones is NOT a Macclesfield councillor.  In fact the ward he represents is on the far side of the borough.  His comments on this case were always likely to be interpreted as a statement by the Leader of the Council.  Regrettably the statements have further undermined the public perception of the independence of the panning committees.

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