Sandbach saga: meet the housebuilder standing up to Michael Gove


In the latest example of the housing secretary intervening in planning on design grounds, we talk to Colin Muller of Muller Property Group, about the Sandbach development in Cheshire East which has been called in

Colin Muller, owner and founder of Cheshire-based Muller Property Group, is straight talking when it comes to secretaries of state for housing, describing the current role holder, Michael Gove, as “overzealous” and “self-important.” He is preparing to “do battle” with Gove over a planning appeal on which the secretary of state is set to make a decision, having ostensibly taken issue with its design, but Muller is bullish about his chances of winning.

“This is not the first time I have done battle with a secretary of state. We had a very serious, long running saga regarding a site in Nantwich between 2012 and 20, where we had not one but three successive High Court challenges,” says Muller, referring to a 34 acre site near Crewe, which went through a number of appeals before the first phase of what could become a 1,100-home development was green lit. 

“We saw off and defeated three secretaries of state. We saw Eric Pickles, we saw Sajid Javid, and finally Robert Jenrick approved the [first 189-home phase of the Nantwich] site in July 2020. It started out with similar issues of meddling and calling in.”

Now, the housebuilding boss is preparing to fight his case again in circumstances his lawyer describes as “extremely surprising”.

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