Pre-Inquiry Meeting

Pre-Inquiry Meeting






Town and Country Planning Act 1990

a)APP/R0660/W/16/3155191:- Appeal by Orbit Investments (Properties) Limited –Demolition of existing buildings and erection of five units to be used for Class A1 (non-food retail) purposes and two units to be used for Use Class A1 (non-food retail or sandwich shop) and/or Use Class A3 and/or Use Class A5. Creation of car park and provision of new access from Earl Road, together with landscaping and associated works on land off Earl Road/Epsom Avenue, Handforth Dean, Cheshire, SK9 3RL (Recovered by the Secretary of State on 25 July 2017).

b)APP/R0660/V/17/3179605:- Application for planning permission by CPG Development Projects Limited for the erection of four Restaurants and three Drive-thru Restaurant/Café’s along with associated car parking, servicing and landscaping on land at Earl Road, Handforth, Cheshire, SK9 3RW (Called in by the Secretary of State on 4 July 2017).

c)APP/R0660/V/17/3179609:- Application for planning permission by CPG Development Projects Limited for the construction of 23,076 square metres of class A1 retail floorspace and 2,274 square metres of class A3/A5 floorspace along with associated car parking, access and servicing arrangements and landscaping on land at Earl Road, Handforth, Cheshire, SK9 3RW (Called in by the Secretary of State on 4 July 2017).

d)APP/R0660/V/17/3179610:- Application for planning permission by CPG Development Projects Limited for the erection of 2,320 square metres retail floorspace on land at Earl Road, Handforth, Cheshire, SK9 3RW (Called in by the Secretary of State on 4 July 2017).


  1. It was explained that thepurpose of the Pre-Inquiry Meeting was to put in place administrative and procedural arrangements for the Public Inquiry, beginning on 23 January 2018, into an appeal by Orbit Investments (Properties) Limited and three called in applications for planning permission by CPG Development Projects Limited. Absence of any party from the meeting would not preclude the opportunity to speak at the Inquiry.
  1. The Inquiry will be conducted by David M H Rose BA (Hons) MRTPI. The proposals will be determined by the Secretary of State following consideration of a report prepared by, and recommendations made by, the Inspector.

Principal parties

  1. The principal parties are:- Cheshire East Council (Graeme Keen QC); Orbit Investments (Paul Tucker QC and Gary Grant of Counsel; CPG Development Projects (David Elvin QC and Matthew Fraser of Counsel); Stockport Council (Martin Carter of Counsel and Ms Stanzie Bell of Counsel); Peel Investments (Giles Cannock of Counsel); St Modwen (Will Martin); and The Emerson Group (which includes Orbit Investments).

Programme Officer

  1. Cheshire East Council (CEC) acknowledged, in principle, the desirability of appointing a Programme Officer; it confirmed that consideration was being given to an external appointment subject to affordability; and invited contributions from others. CPG confirmed willingness to make a proportionate contribution.

Statements of Common Ground (SoCG)

  1. The bespoke programme requires SoCG by 19 December coinciding with the submission of proofs of evidence. The Inspector outlined the importance of SoCG as aprerequisite for the preparation of evidence and not a postscript to proofs. SoCG could be composite or,preferably, topic based and should be regarded as ‘living’ documents recording matters of agreement and disagreement with updates as necessary. Whilst some preparatory work was underway, endeavours should be made to expedite the first issue of meaningful SocG for circulation to all parties by 5pm on Monday 27 November.

Clarification of Orbit’s/Emerson’s position in relation to the CPG case

  1. Indication was given that, whilst confirmation was dependent on the outcome of cumulative modelling, Orbit did not expect to be opposing the merits of the CPG proposal; and it was to be hoped that The Emerson Group would take the same stance.

Retail issues background material

  1. It was confirmed:-

a)the proposed tenant line-up was to be regarded, generally, as commercially sensitive;

b)common base survey data should be agreed by the respective retail experts to avoid having to debate the merits of competing data;

c)anchor tenants in relation to any section 106 agreement(s) are also regarded as commercially sensitive;

d)as to the disclosure of the Deloitte Report and the release of other documents, CEC is content to make available relevant documents where it is able, and proportionate, to do so; some material is held by Engine of the North; CPG will liaise with CEC as to disclosure (albeit CPG proposes to call expert evidence on marketing and viability); and CEC is giving consideration to Peel’s more recent and restricted Freedom of Information request;

e)in relation to retail impact assessments (RIAs) it was uncontroversial that SEMMMS should inform their preparation;

f)the modelling of RIAs (solus/cumulative combinations) should be agreed by the retail experts as part of the SoCG; and it should be remembered that the proposals are expressed as ‘open’ A1 uses (rather than named retailer specific);

g)the components of the RIAs should also be the subject of early discussion/agreement to inform proofs of evidence; and

h)the availability of documents is covered in (d) above.

Employment land issues

  1. CPG will call evidence on the availability, marketing and viability for flagship offices; and Peel (awaiting on the outcome of its Freedom of Information requests to provide greater clarity on its position) anticipated a case in relation to both the CPG and Orbit sites having particular regard to Peel’s concerns on the different manner in which CEC considered the matter of employment land.

Transport issues

  1. The point was made that the submission of a planning application for the Handforth Growth Village is anticipated in January 2018; it is an allocated site; and none of the proposals subject to Inquiry should be bound up in possible cumulative impact assessments.

Documents and Core Documents

  1. The following principles should be observed:-

a)each document to be used or handed in at the Inquiry must have a discrete reference;

b)an updated list of documents should be available on a rolling basis; with a final electronic list of all documents (including Core Documents and proofs) following the close of the Inquiry;

c)party specific documents must have a unique prefix followed by the number of the document (e.g. CEC; SC; ORB; CPG; SM; and PI respectively);

d)all appendices should be bound separately from proofs;

e)each document within appendices should have a visible tab, or each page in the appendices should be clearly numbered;

f)any document without page numbers should be paginated;

g)binders should not be overloaded; and

h)core documents should be restricted in number to those genuinely required for ease of reference; otherwise extracts from relevant documents to be included as appendices to proofs.

Inquiry Programme

  1. The Inquiry will be arranged on a topic basis of employment, retail and transport issues following the order, as applicable, of CEC, CPG, Orbit and Rule 6 parties. Retail/Employment witnesses will provide evidence on planning balance to avoid repetition. The order of Rule 6 parties does not need to be consistent and can be varied depending on the degree of involvement/case called.

Inquiry timetable and submission of proofs of evidence and related documents

  1. The bespoke timetable requires proofs of evidence by no later than 19 December (to be submitted electronically and with hard copies); proofs must be accompanied by summaries at the time of submission.
  1. Although there is no provision for rebuttal proofs, rebuttal evidence (as genuine response/clarification to save Inquiry time) may be permitted no later than 5pm on 15 January. The alternative might be to amend the relevant SoCG.
  1. The bespoke programme requires the submission of an Inquiry timetable by 2 January; this is to be deferred until 15 January.
  1. Opening statements should be no more than 15 minutes duration and they should be available in writing on the opening morning of the Inquiry.
  1. To accommodate any potential over-running of the Inquiry, the parties will give early consideration to identifying 2 additional days (as soon as possible after the 3 week allocation).

Section 106 obligation(s) and conditions

  1. Planning Obligations are to be submitted by 15 January(in latest draft); conditions (with reasons) should be set out in SoCG; with final lists available by 15 January.

Venue, sittings and facilities

  1. The Inquiry is due to open at 10:00am on Tuesday 23 January; it is programmed to sit for 3 weeks; sitting times will generally be 10.00am to 5pm, with an hour for lunch and a short break mid-morning and mid-afternoon
  1. The Inquiry will be held in the main Assembly Rooms (apart from relocation on one day to a smaller room to accommodate a long-standing venue commitment); endeavours will be made as far as possible to provide nearby rooms for the various parties including the Inspector and Programme Officer; and a modern PA system and wifi will be available.

Site visits

  1. If the parties consider that the Inspector should visit any locations on an unaccompanied basis before the opening of the Inquiry, details should be provided by no later than 9 January.

Other matters

  1. It was confirmed, on behalf of Stockport Council,that its case on sequentially preferable sites would no longer include Redrock, Stockport as it was now let fully; but Unit 6 of the Peel Centre would be cited in relation to Orbit. The extent to which the sequential argument would be applied to the three individual CPG proposals is to be confirmed.


  1. The Pre-Inquiry Meeting concluded at 15.20 hours.

David MH Rose