Present: Chairman, Committee (x 4), Cllr Andrew Gardner, Prospective Conservative MP Laura Evans and 20 other local residents
Apologies: Cllrs Tony Cox and Alison Wright, Graham Stevens (Committee) and others who kindly notified their absence
- Welcome & Introductions. The HCA Chairman, Christopher Moore, introduced himself to the meeting and thanked all those attending, particularly the newcomers, as well as those who had tendered their apologies.
- Chairman’s Report. Mr Moore emphasised that HCA is the administrative group which monitors conservation issues within the designated Kings Gap and Meols Drive Conservation Areas. Both CAs were established to protect the fine local examples of late Victorian and Edwardian buildings and to preserve the setting and spaciousness of the area around the Royal Liverpool Golf course. Our two CAs are but a small but significant proportion of the 26 designated CAs in Wirral. Conservation Areas Wirral (CAW) is an established organisation to further conservation across the Borough. HCA strongly identifies with and supports their aims and activities as CAW presents a better, stronger and unified body to put pressure on the Council. The most recent CAW newsletter and Chairman’s 2019 Report can be accessed through the HCA website or www.cawirral.org.uk HCA has contributed modestly to CAW by way of £50 annual grants. The Chairman’s comments to this AGM are remarkably similar to those given at our last AGM in late 2017 with the Minutes available and on the HCA website and in hard copy at this meeting. Our major difficulty continues to be the lack of responsiveness of Council and the low priority that seems to be given to Conservation and Heritage – factors which make Wirral such a pleasant place to live and work and are such important contributors to the local economy. For instance, the sole Conservation Officer is on maternity leave with no replacement arranged. On your behalf, we have continued to engage with WMBC and its officers and elected Cllrs on conservation matters and attempted to influence planning decisions to ensure that applications comply with national, Wirral and other relevant planning policies. Conservation Areas Wirrl (CAW)continues to do good work as follows:
- Designate Heritage trails shown on the CAW website
- Promoting and arranging a more extensive Blue Plaque scheme to recognise notable figures in Wirral. For instance, the famous Hoylake golf champion, Mr John Ball, has had his achievements recorded at the entrance to Royal Liverpool GC on Meols Drive
- Supporting groups seeking to protect the all important Green Belt
- Assisting with the initiative to regenerate Hamilton Square which has 63 Grade 1 Listed buildings but which shows evident signs of neglect and lack of investment
- Identifying enforcement or lack of it
- Increasing awareness through public events
More locally, we can report:
- Apart from Beacon Project (about which more later), there are no major schemes; mostly domestic
- Conversions of larger properties to flats or nursing homes
- Conservation is Enhancement as well as Preservation so it is important to try to preserve the grace, dignity, style and sense of space of the larger properties when conversion is applied for
- Hoylake Neighbourhood Development Plan helps by having an extra set of supportive policies
- Enforcement or lack of it remains a concern
- There seem to be growing instances of retrospective applications after building work has been started and deliberate flouting of the planning approval and permissions by unscrupulous owners or developers
- Tree preservation inside CAs is not well known (all tree work must be approved) but there is some improvement here as we are now notified of tree applications
- Fly Posting is still rife as seen on the Hoylake roundabout right now
- Over the past period, our policy has been not to object to every application but to ensure compliance (NPPF, UDP, NDP, Conservation principles). We concentrate on Heritage and Design &Access Statements which should be mandatory, on the shape, size and style of applications, on materials used and preservation of space and building lines
- The Old Garden Nursing Home, Meols Drive (where parking congestion is noted as a problem)
- Queens Road Police Station now functioning as Nursery School
- Old Lifeboat Station where both buildings have been renovated
- St Hildeburgh’s War memorial relocated within the churchyard
- A number of small domestic improvements with no impact
Ongoing projects are:
- New detached house in vacant plot St Margarets Road (approved but not started yet)
- Beacon Project where Town Hall brought back into community use
- Large scale extensions to 10 Meols Drive (underway but HCA concern about building line were ignored by the Council)
- Field House, Stanley Road (concerns about the two first floor windows and balcony which seem to be outwith the planning application)
- Build of ugly, square 2 storey extension at 16 Lingdale Road in breach of planning consents. This project has been taken out of delegation and will be subject to a site visit and consideration by the Planning Committee.
- As is happening elsewhere in Wirral, CAs are being identified with new, approved green signs to raise awareness. These are procured through the Council although a £50 contribution is expected from the CA. It is hoped to procure some of these signs for both Meols Drive and Kings Gap if additional funds can be obtained.
Concluding, Mr Moore stated that the committee would continue to monitor planning applications for compliance and seek to influence the planning officers and councillors to safeguard the two CAs of Meols Drive and Kings gap. He noted that the Government had just relaxed the rules on permitted development although it was unclear whether these applied within designated conservation areas. The Committee would continue to support CAW and there impressive and dedicated work and would continue to do our best to maintain the charm and distinctive character of our area.
- Financial Report. Mrs Pam Meredith Jones as Hon Treasurer reported that the HCA account stood at £396.98 as at 4 June 2019 (see attachment). Since the last General Meeting, expenditure had been limited to £54.00 to VTS Design for hosting the HCA website and to donations of £50.00 in each of 2018 and 2019 to Conservation Areas Wirral. It was awkward and cumbersome to collect membership annual fees so attendees were requested to make donations at the meeting. Some £ .00 was collected in this way for which the committee was grateful. Mrs Laura Evans offered to help set up a standing order system to allow more regular collection of dues which would be gratefully pursued. Thanks were expressed to the Beacon Project for waiving the rental costs of the room and to Royal Liverpool Golf Club for covering the cost of photocopying.
- Election of Committee. The meeting approved the re-election of C T Moore as Chairman, Mrs Pam Meredith Jones as Hon Treasurer and Mrs Kitty Whitford, Mr Miles Meredith Jones, Mrs Sue Evans and Mr Graham Stevens who had offered themselves for re-election. Thanks were recorded to Messrs Ron Cotton, Roger Tucknott and Michael Gittoes who had stood down from the committee and who were thanked for their services.
- The Beacon Project. Mr Mark Howard gave an illuminating presentation on the Beacon Project which had now gained planning approval as well as securing a £3.6M grant from the Coastal Communities Fund in response to the comprehensive application submitted last year. It was expected that the work on the cinema, restaurant and artisanal units would start in October with the project due for completion by December 2020. The CCF grant was for the Beacon Centre itself with the development of the 40 residential apartments separately funded under Hylgar Properties who owned the site. Mr Howard dealt with the concerns about parking which had been carefully researched at the application stage. His presentation was warmly received; he and his colleagues were congratulated on their success so far and they were wished every continued success with this exciting project.
- Closure of the Meeting. After renewed thanks for the support of all those who had attended and their interest in conservation matters the Chairman closed the meeting.
C T MOORE 14 June 2019
Chairman, for HCA Committee
- HCA Financial Report for Period Ending 4 June 2019