|Hoylake Conservation Areas Association – eNewsletter August 2020|
|Dear Fellow Residents,
I am conscious that we have not issued an eNewsletter for some considerable time although there is some limited news on the website – www.hoylakeconservationarea.org. Listed below are a number of items of interest or relevance to both Meols Drive and Kings Gap Conservation Areas – which for convenience we call the Hoylake Conservation Areas (HCA)
Planning Matters The past year or so has seen a fair number of conservation issues which have challenged our main aim of protecting our lovely local area from inappropriate or unsympathetic development. It must be remembered that conservation is not just preserving buildings and heritage – important though that is – it also has the twin goal of enhancement of local buildings and their context. However, the existing Planning laws sometimes seem to work against our aims by compromise to the key principles which we hold dear. Wirral Council Planning is not in a good state with most of its key plans and policies being out of date. The Council has come in for critical scrutiny by the Government as it has not yet produced its Local Plan or agreed its Strategic Housing Assessment. Although work is underway on both these crucial documents, the Council officers, the Planning Committee, residents, builders and developers can only refer to ‘saved’ policies from 2000. This leaves all parties vulnerable to out of date policies which are inadequate to cope with many of the planning issues affecting our Conservation Areas today. In particular, the Council has failed to produce statutory Management Plans for the Meols Drive and Kings Gap CAs which should provide essential governing guidance for all those concerned with devising and approving development proposals.
For a balanced view, we must remember that the Council has been under severe financial and organisational pressure in recent years, Staff losses, the Rock Ferry explosion, and the extra load on resources and manpower due to the Pandemic have all impacted on normal functions. On the brighter side, there have been some extra staff recruited to deal with the huge backlog of enforcement issues and public consultations on the emerging Local Plan are at an advanced stage. A new Head of Planning is being recruited after Mr David Ball was re-assigned and it is to be hoped that the Planning Team will receive appropriate resources and leadership to improve their performance. Even this must be unsure as the Council takes on further responsibilities under the proposed changes to Planning Laws currently being driven by The Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP.
The Hoylake Neighbourhood Development Plan which adds local perspective to the family of National and Local Authority plans must also be considered by residents and others when submitting planning applications. A third iteration is currently being processed by Hoylake Vision, (Hoylake Community Planning Forum) by inviting all residents to ‘Have Their Say’ in how they want to shape the town and its facilities. If you haven’t done so already please follow this link https://www.placed-engagement.org.uk/hoylake/ to make your contribution. Preliminary reports suggest that HMG’s review of the planning system will give greater resource and influence to Neighbourhood Plans which would be very welcome.
Wirral wide, there are 26 designated Conservation Areas which is a measure of the heritage and value that we put on local buildings and spaces. The volunteers who take on the role of protecting the individual CAs have an uphill struggle but Conservation Areas Wirral (CAW) is an umbrella group under dedicated and knowledgeable voluntary leadership which takes on issues which affect all our conservation areas and therefore carries much more weight. We support their work with modest annual donations and can call on their expertise when required. Their useful website: www.cawirral.co.uk
Local Applications & Projects. In the main, local applications have centred on modest and non-controversial domestic improvements as well as tree work (a reminder here that ALL tree work in a CA must have the approval of the Council before it can be carried out). Where our input is required, it is often to do with the conditions applied at approval and this may be window shape and style, roofing tiles, boundary treatment etc. Some of the more important applications on which we have commented are:
No 16 Lingdale Road. In June 2019 we were disappointed that the Council upheld a retrospective application (APP/19/00431) for the conversion to flats with an industrial looking extension to the rear. This was unpopular with local residents and compromises the space surrounding the golf course which the MDCA was introduced to protect.
Field House 34 Stanley Road, Field House is a most attractive property overlooking the golf course with some fine period features. In the view of many, the new front balcony which had been discouraged at pre-application discussions with the Council but which had been built outside the permissions and the owners were required to seek retrospective approval (APP/20/00212). We objected as, in our view, the façade of the property had been compromised but, again, approval was given. Retrospective application for work which has already been undertaken places all parties in a difficult position and is one of the least acceptable facets of planning protocols. Best avoided if at all possible!
New Property to Rear of 10 The Kings Gap. This application (APP/19/01560) was to build a new detached property at the bottom of the garden but with access from Lighthouse Road. The Council rejected the application then it was taken to appeal by the owners but the Council’s decision was upheld by the Planning Inspectorate. We understand that a revised application is at an advanced stage which will be objectively reviewed once validated by the Planning Department.
Wirral Point 37 Stanley Road. Many will know of the major proposal by Blueoak Estates to demolish the single property at Wirral Point to be replaced by a large, futuristic 3 and 4 storey edifice containing 9 luxury apartments. This was rejected by the Council in December last year for many reasons but a principal factor was that the property is described in the MDCA Appraisal as Cat ‘B’ as it makes a positive contribution and demolition is allowed in only exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, the developers have taken that decision to appeal by the Planning Inspectorate with a ruling anticipated by November this year. This large and uncharacteristic block would dominate the views from the golf course, along the River Dee from West Kirby, disrupt the open and slightly wild aspect of views to and from Red Rocks and cause ecological and environmental disturbance.
Wirral Point – New Proposal
Although we were pleased with this first round decision by the Council, we await the outcome from the Inspectorate. In the meantime, the same developers have submitted a new application for an alternative but more traditional design for 9 apartments which still demands demolition of Wirral Point. This application is fighting its way through local objections at present but we know that the Council officers are ‘minded to approve’ the application. The threat of permanent change to our distinctive skyline is therefore very real.
|Hilstone Grange 17 Stanley Road. Hilstone Grange (the former Tyson house) is the substantial, imposing Edwardian property on the course boundary which is a major, defining component of the built skyline along Stanley Road. It is described in the CA appraisal as a ‘very good example ‘ of an interwar property with ‘attractive roofscape with high decorative chimneys and leaded windows’. The property has current approval for conversion to 7 apartments but retaining most of the traditional brick facade of roof and chimney lines. This approval runs out in January 2021 but it is clear that the owner has been unsuccessful in finding a developer to pursue this option. A new developer – Forth Homes – is now showing active interest. No definitive plans have yet been produced but a governing requirement is to demolish Hilstone Grange and rebuild with a modern block of 9 apartments. Approval of demolition of this Cat ‘A’ building would drive a coach and horses through the Wirral’s conservation responsibilities. With the Golf Club and the Stanley Road Residents we aim to put up a robust and persuasive case to oppose such an invasive development.
Other Imminent Risks
On Stanley Road, we believe that No 23 will shortly be put up for sale. Although this house is not the most attractive and is ripe for redevelopment, its surrounds and roof contribute to the Hoylake skyline. We need to be concerned about its future and await further information.
The two bungalows on the left side of Pinfold Lane on the boundary of the course and adjacent to the public right of way across to the estuary are under single ownership. We must guard against any proposal to redevelop that whole site which would be a most unwelcome encroachment.
Membership of Hoylake Conservation Areas Association. Conservation matters are not at the forefront of everyday life – except when owners want to make changes to their property or object to a development by others! Nevertheless, in order for the committee to fulfil its responsibilities towards local conservation, we do need general support from our residents so that we can reflect your views. Our subscriber database is well out of date and we hope that this newsletter prompts renewal of interest. We have only a low key approach to membership but we do encourage you to become a member by filling in the form attached. Even if you have previously subscribed it would be helpful if you could confirm your membership. We have only a limited requirement for funds – mostly for maintenance of the website, a donation to CAW, any printing and hire charges for the AGM venue – but you are invited to make a household subscription of £5.00 per year to help us keep going in protecting our local conservation interests. We cannot at present accept on-line payments but we hope to offer that opportunity soon. Mrs Pam Meredith Jones, our Hon Treasurer, would be pleased to receive subscriptions and/or donations as shown on the form.
Awareness of the CAs. With the active support of Councillor Andrew Gardner, we are hoping to arrange a few information signs to remind people that they live in or are passing through a Conservation Area . These approved signs are in some other places on the Wirral and we are sure that they will help in awareness and pride in our lovely area. There may be some cost to the Association but we are hopeful of gaining a ward Councillor’s grant. Keep your eyes peeled!
As always, thank you for your interest and support. Any queries or questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Chris Moore, Chairman
The HCA Committee
See next page for Membership Form
Please help us to achieve our aims by joining the Hoylake Conservation Areas Association which looks after the Meols Drive and Kings Gap CAs
Annual membership costs just £3.00 for an individual or £5.00 for a household. This helps us with administration expenses, subscriptions to other bodies, room hire and any specialist advice.
To join, please fill in your details below and return the form electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org Ideally please pay the membership fee by annual Standing Order to Hoylake Conservation Areas, Barclays Bank, Sort Code: 20-50-36, Account No. 30622982.
Or post your form to the address below with a cheque made payable to the HCA Association.
|Please enrol me as a member of the Hoylake Conservation Areas Association
|I enclose or will pay by BACS the following annual subscription fee – (please tick one option)|
|£3.00 (individual) £5.00 (household)|
We will confirm your membership as soon as possible and look forward to representing your views.
Postal address for the return of Memberships forms is: Mrs Pam Meredith-Jones, Seaward, 8 The Royal, Hoylake CH47 1HS
The HCA Constitution is on the website: www.hoylakeconservationarea.org.uk
HCA is governed by the requirements of GDPR and undertakes to use your personal information solely for the purposes of fulfilling its Constitution and will not be shared. If you complete the information above then you are consenting to receive HCA information and invitations to attend HCA public meetings. Your information can be removed from our membership list on request.