Planning in Action – Planning Committee 17th April

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 14.08.01

Apologies if we’re a bit late to the planning party but events have rather overtaken us this week . However we have been asked for your support against a planning application  concerning Ashton Court ,West Kirby  that comes before tonight’s Planning committee.

Planning Committee 17.04.19 agenda

It will be interesting to observe the actions of Planning Committee Chair (!) Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes on this particular agenda item particularly considering the conflicts of interest involved with him being a board member of Magenta Living. But then this is Wirral Council where all kinds of conflicts go undeclared and unchallenged.

Here are the details of one of the objections to the plans:

ASHTON COURT……Planning Committee – Wednesday 17 April 2019.

1.      My name is Alan Rundle and I live at XXX, West Kirby.

2.     This Planning Committee has already rejected two identical planning applications for development at Ashton Court. The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed two appeals.

3.      ‘Magenta Living’ has created three companies to privatise its housing stock. They are ‘Starfish Commercial’, ‘Bamboo Lettings’ and ‘Hilbre Homes’.

4.      The previous two identical applications were submitted by Starfish Commercial.

5.       This application has been submitted by ‘Hilbre Homes’.

6.         Since this application is identical to the previous two, the concerns and objections to the previous applications apply equally to this application.

7.      Six petitions have now been submitted to the Council, objecting to this scheme.

8.     A large number of West Kirby residents want to see the Ashton Court flats refurbished, modernised and occupied, once more, by elderly people.

9.     The Lead Local Flood Authority (the LLFA) objects to this application and recommends refusal of planning permission contrary to what is printed in the Ashton Court Agenda, under the heading ‘CONSULTATIONS’.

10.             I quote from an email sent by the Lead Local Flood Authority to Neil A.Williams, with the subject given as ‘Application APP/18/01625 (Ashton Court) consultation response, dated 10th January 2019. It states:

“……the Lead Local Flood Authority object to this application and recommend refusal of planning permission….” adding “….the proposed scale of development may present risks of flooding on-site and/or elsewhere if surface water run-off is not effectively managed”.

The LLFA also states that “….there is no information whether the system will be in private ownership or offered for adoption, who will be responsible for maintenance and how maintenance of unadopted communal components…….will be secured and funded in perpetuity”.

The LLFA further adds: “In the absence of this information, the surface water flood risk resulting from the proposed development is unknown and this is therefore sufficient reason in itself for a refusal of planning permission”.

11.             The Council’s website shows that there were seven bodies consulted concerning this application. The LLFA one has been seen to recommend refusal of planning permission. I have given some of the LLFA’s reasons. The Wirral Society was consulted. In a communication to Mr. N. Williams, dated 9 January 2019, the Wirral Society writes: “The Wirral Society objects to this repeat, repeat application….”.

Reasons are given including one that states: “Surely, a refurbishment is possible and less costly, and would maintain the green space that is under threat from this application at the centre of Banks Road”.

Why is there no mention of the Wirral Society objection in the Ashton Court Agenda document under the heading ‘CONSULTATIONS’?

Why is the Agenda item ‘CONSULTATIONS’ so misleading and incomplete?

12.             This application breaches several NPPF and Council policies:

  1. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) definition of Previously Developed Land (aka Brownfield Sites) specifically excludes the inclusion of “….land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens….”. Therefore, Ashton Court does not qualify as a Brownfield Site and should be removed from the Council’s Register of Brownfield Sites.
    Ashton Court is not actually given ‘confirmed’ status on the Council’s Brownfield Site Register and, as a consequence, this application does not qualify for the subsidy of a Vacant Building Credit of £9,291 to be paid by the Council to the applicant.

    The Lead Local Flood Authority has previously stated that the site cannot be classed as ‘previously developed’ or ‘brownfield’ for the purposes of the water drainage system.

    (ii) GRE1 – The title of the Council’s Urban Greenspace Strategic Policy is a big clue as to what it is intended to do: GRE1 The Protection of Urban Greenspace. This planning application proposes to cover urban greenspace with concrete, tarmac and bricks and mortar.

    (iii) SPD2…..Separation Distances.
    In the Agenda, section 3.8.13 it states that “Almost all separation distances are complied with“.This is not acceptable. Does the Council’s SPD2 policy apply to some residents but not to others, or does the SPD2 policy apply to all residents? This application breaches the Council’s SPD2 policy.

    (iv) SPD4…..Car Parking provision for newly-built properties – 27 car parking spaces should have been provided for the proposed 14 houses. This application breaches the Council’s SPD4 policy. and

      (v) the NPPF definition of ‘Affordable Housing’ states that

     “Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative housing provision”. “Intermediate housing” is homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels.

    It is not clear that the applicant has made any commitment to guarantee that future eligible households will receive any subsidy.

13.             Some West Kirby residents have suggested that the Council compulsorily purchase the Ashton Court retirement flats.

14.             Some West Kirby residents have expressed their desire to see the Ashton Court flats awarded listed status…….as an example of 1960s council housing.

15.            This application includes no Social Rented Housing…….no Intermediate Housing……. and……no Key Worker Housing.

16.            I ask Wirral Council’s Planning Committee to reject this planning application.

 

Local Plan debacle : A Statement from Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces

Further insight from Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces into the ‘Local Plan’ electioneering plot which seems to have spectacularly backfired on the ruling Wirral Council administration. There are further extracts from the leaked documents at the centre of  the controversy / conspiracy and which contain some useful annotations from the campaign group and handily sum up the issues which are in dispute.

If anyone would like a full copy of the slides please contact wirralleaks@gmail.com

Leak Doc front cover

A “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance” – What is ACTUALLY in the “leaked” document which is supposed to show that Green Belt sites are “safe”?

You may have seen recent reports in the Liverpool Echo that “leaked” documents show that 20 Wirral Green Belt sites will be “saved” from developers.

We have now been passed a copy of that “leaked” report and, unfortunately, it DOES NOT show that ANY Green Belt sites are safe.

We understand that on 12th November 2018 there was a meeting between Wirral Council’s (Labour) Cabinet and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). This was a technical briefing by Council Officers about the Local Plan to explain how sites in the Green Belt Review would be ranked against criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

However, at that meeting, the Cabinet Members indicated their “POLITICAL PREFERENCES” for the Green belt sites that they wished to save (rejected) and those that they preferred to be developed (accepted).

One week later, on the 19th November 2018, the Cabinet and the SLT met again and a “Local Plan Progress Update” document was presented which listed the Cabinet’s agreed POLITICAL preferences. This is the document that was leaked to the press.

Leaked Doc page 2

The Cabinet Members should have known that POLITICAL preferences CAN NOT decide which sites can be released for development and which can be “saved”. Sites can only be released for development following a thorough TECHNICAL ASESSMENT in accordance with Green Belt Criteria and Guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Sites can ONLY be released after due process when the public consultation process has been completed and they have been included in the adopted Local Plan.

Wirral’s Local Plan is not due to be formally adopted until the end of 2020. The public consultation process is still on-going. The deadline for the consultation on the “Sustainability Appraisal and Equalities Impact Assessment” is Wednesday 8 May 2019.

For the Government Local Plan Inspector to accept that the Local Plan is “sound”, it must be “positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the NPPF. Sites chosen by “Political Preference” would NOT stand up to scrutiny by the Local Plan Inspector and a Local Plan prepared on this basis would be found to be “un-sound”.

Therefore the “leaked” document CAN NOT and DOES NOT show which sites have been “saved” from Developers.

Following the Echo Article, the Chief Executive of the Council issued a statement which said:

“Wirral Local Plan process remains ongoing. The full list of Green Belt sites identified for potential release was agreed at Cabinet in July 2018. This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. Any decision to amend the list of sites will be taken by Wirral’s Full Council in due course. We actively encourage all consultees and residents to take part in future consultations on the Local Plan.”

The Echo then amended their article.

It must be made clear that absolutely NO DECISION HAS BEEN TAKEN ABOUT ANY OF THE GREEN BELT SITES

Furthermore, Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member Phillip Brightmore is distributing leaflets in his Pensby and Thingwall Ward where he is standing for re-election in the Wirral’s most marginal seat. His leaflet refers to the “leaked” document and he infers that sites have been “rejected” because of his campaigning.

Not only are the sites that he refers to POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY ( which cannot influence the Local Plan ) but Councillor Brightmore is simply incorrect when he states that the “leaked” document reveals that all the “all the Green belt sites in Pensby, Thingwall, Irby, Heswall and Greasby were recommended for rejection”.

Indeed, the leaked document shows that some sites in Greasby / Franky and Irby Ward, Heswall and Pensby and Thingwall Ward HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ACCEPTED by the Cabinet as preferred sites to be released for development.

One of the largest sites to be “Accepted” for development by the Cabinet (of which Councillor Brightmore is a member”) is the site East of Pensby which is in his own ward. The site termed “East of Pensby” is suitable for 1705 houses.

We can reveal that the following sites were listed in the “leaked” document as the Labour Cabinet’s POLITICAL PREFERENCE for sites to be ACCEPTED for release to developers for house building.

South of Peter Prices Lane Bebington 265 houses

East of Poulton Rd Clatterbridge 213 houses

West of Blakely Road, Raby Clatterbridge 50 houses

West of Raby Hall Clatterbridge 43 houses

West of Plymyard Dale Clatterbridge 834 houses

South of Mill Park Eastham 307 houses

West of Rivacre Road Eastham 592 houses

East of Ferry Road Eastham 29 houses

St David’s Road Eastham 32 houses

East of Rigby Drive Greasby / Frankby / Irby 311 houses

North of Whitehouse Lane Heswall 71 houses

Chester High Rd, Gayton Heswall 281 houses

13 Acres Rd, Meols Hoylake & Meols 8 houses

North of Greasby Rd Moreton / Saughall Massie 682 houses

Garden Hey Nursery Moreton / Saughall Massie 27 houses

North of Barnacre Lane Moreton / Saughall Massie 25 houses

North of Saughall Massie Moreton / Saughall Massie
193 houses

East of Garden Hey Road Moreton / Saughall Massie 47 houses

East of Pensby Pensby and Thingwall 1705 houses

West of Weybourne Close Upton 47 houses

West of Column Rd West Kirby 267 houses

“Maybe” Sites:

North of Poulton Hall Rd Clatterbridge 939 houses

West of Dibbinsdale Rd Clatterbridge 341 houses

We must reiterate that these sites are the POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY of the Labour Cabinet and may not bear any resemblance to the sites which may or may not be released when the Local Plan is adopted following due process, consultation and technical assessment.

However, THE LEAKED DOCUMENT MAKES A MOCKERY OF LABOURS CLAIM TO WANT A “BROWNFIELD FIRST” POLICY. THE LEAKED DOCUMENT SHOWS THAT WIRRAL’S LABOUR CABINET HAVE AGREED A PREFERENCE TO BUILD MORE THAN 6000 HOUSES ON THE GREEN BELT.

Interestingly, many of the sites which the “leak” showed had supposedly been saved were in the areas around some of the most marginal wards, where the current Councillors are in danger of losing their seats.

The “Wirralleaks” website has described the leak as a “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance”.

This “fake news” was leaked by someone, just a few weeks before the local elections – you can make your own judgement as to who you think may have made the “leak” and why!

Please share this information to all your friends family and neighbours and ensure that when they vote in the upcoming local elections they are fully aware that, despite what Councillor Phillip Brightmore and others are saying, Green Belt sites on the Wirral HAVE NOT BEEN SAVED!…

Leaked Doc accepted 1
leaked doc accepted 2
leaked doc accepted 3