HCA Recent Activity
- Council Planning Issues.
- Concerned about some aspects of planning procedures and apparently confusing information attributed to the Planning Team particularly about the application for a large, contemporary complex at Wirral Point the Red Rocks end of Stanley Road, Chris Moore wrote to David Ball Head of Planning at WMBC to seek clarification on key aspects. At a consequent meeting (also attended by the Chairman of the Council’s Planning Committee and Mr Alan Chape, chairman of Conservation Areas Wirral) various reassurances were given. Record of Mtg with David Ball 11 Oct 19 is here. A principal concern about the Wirral Point application was satisfactorily addressed and that application was refused in December 2019 and that is reported more fully below.
- There are still inconsistencies and weaknesses in the planning system much of which can be attributed to the reliance on policies and plans from the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) which dates back to 2000. The emerging Local Plan which has been out for public consultation and on which we have made comments about conservation matters will hopefully provide more robust and relevant policies in amplification of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). However, this new Local Plan will not be published for some time yet. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to highlight individual inconsistencies and try to prevent the gradual, cumulative erosion of the important aspects of conservation in our area.
- HCA Responses to Main Planning Applications.
- 16 Lingdale Road. There has been much unhappiness and concern about the flat development on the site of a previous single dwelling at 16 Lingdale Road. Despite complaints from HCA and many local residents about some design aspects which contravened the planning approval for this development, the Council eventually approved a retrospective application to regularise the building work. The end result is far from acceptable and some significant compromise to conservation principles and the Council’s own policies has occurred. The HCA objection is shown here but unfortunately on this occasion we were unable to prevent this unfortunate development.
- Wirral Point. Blue Oak Estates put in a comprehensive application to demolish the single property at 37 Stanley Road – a prominent site over looking the River Dee near Red Rocks. The proposal was to demolish the existing property in favour of 9 luxury apartments to a very futuristic design which would be completely out of character to this residential area which frames the backdrop to the Royal Liverpool golf course. See attached artist’s impression. There were also real concerns about its impact on the landscape, the public amenity of this popular coastal feature, on flora and fauna in the adjacent SSSI and on services and traffic. HCA and a newly formed Residents’ Association assisted by the Ward Councillors fought a strong campaign against this application (see HCA letter here) and I am pleased to record that the application was refused on 18 December 2019. The Council’s Decision letter is available on the Council’s website under APP/19/1602. That may not be the end of the matter as the developer has the option of appealing the decision or of re-submitting a new application. We await developments.
- Lighthouse Road. The HCA Committee objected to App/19/01560 to construct a new property in the back garden of 10 The Kings Gap with new access from Lighthouse Road. This application was refused by the Council but the owners are making an appeal which will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate in the coming months.
3. Beacon Project. The Beacon Project to convert the former Town Hall at The Quadrant into a two-screen Cinema and Arts Village with supporting facilities gained planning approval and a significant grant of £3.6M from the Coastal Communities Fund. Initial work is currently underway and we can expect to learn more about this major project as the year progresses.
4. Retrospective Application for New balcony at Field House, 34 Stanley Road. As can be seen from the adjacent photo
which shows the property before re-furbishment, Field House is a handsome and prominent period property. The re-development carried out unapproved alterations to the front of the property and, after drawing this to the Council’s attention for enforcement action, a retrospective application has been submitted which HCA has opposed – letter attached here. By its Decision letter for APP/20/0212 dated 6 May 2020 the Council has now granted approval on the grounds that it did not breach Policy CH2 and was in keeping with the scale and design principles of conservation. This is very disappointing on two grounds: firstly there was no hint of censure for building something for which no approval had been given and secondly it is an example of gradual but pervasive erosion of built style and dignity which the conservation area is supposed to protect.
5. Awareness of Conservation Areas. Knowledge of Conservation Areas is not well known or very apparent. There is a welcome initiative between Conservation Areas Wirral (CAW) and the Council to erect common signs at key approaches to the CAs so that people are more aware. HCA has lodged interest in having such signs for Meols Drive and Kings Gap but we are awaiting a response from the concerned desk. We very much hope to have access to Cllr Andrew Gardner’s Ward funds to help us pursue this initiative.
6. Recent Meetings. The Committee met on 26 February to talk through various issues. No record has been produced but, apart from discussing local applications, the main topics were:
- Committee composition and responsibilities – new blood would be welcomed
- Making closer ties with local Councillors with respect to planning and other concerns eg litter
- Updating the HCA website
- Pursuing a system for on-line subscription payments and records