We lost the fight to defend our villages against massive over-development – Deliberate misunderstanding?

At the Planning Committee meeting on 5th October, we lost our 4 ½ year fight against the over-development of the villages of Hesketh Bank & Tarleton.

We always knew it would be tough as the combination of the determination of the developer to build 212 dwellings and the apparent inability of the Planning officers to adhere to plan policies from the outset meant that the policies of the recently adopted Local Plan were open to reinterpretation and disregard.

Alty’s old Brickworks in Hesketh Bank and adjacent Greenfield site in Tarleton were allocated as a Rural Development Opportunity (RDO) in the Local Plan 2012-2027.
Policy EC3 states:

‘The development of some brownfield sites within more rural parts of the Borough for mixed uses will be permitted in order to stimulate the rural economy and provide much needed housing.’

The policy goes on to state:

‘In the interest of the rural economy, employment generating uses will be required to form part of any proposal’

The Policy comes from the section in the Local Plan concerned with ‘Facilitating Economic Growth’. The emphasis is on stimulating the rural economy.

 

In December 2016, Persimmon’s application to build 212 dwellings on the Altys site was refused by the members of the Planning Committee. This was not on the grounds that their proposal failed to meet the requirements of Policy EC3 by failing to deliver any employment uses, but rather the two reasons for refusal of the application were:

  1. The proposed scheme shows significant encroachment of residential development into the Coastal Zone and is therefore contrary to Policy EN2 of the West Lancashire Replacement Local Plan 2012-2027 Development Plan Document.
  2. The proposed scheme fails to provide an acceptable amount, type and distribution of affordable housing and therefore fails to comply with Policy RS2 of the West Lancashire Replacement Local Plan 2012 -2027 Development Plan Document.

The Policy of Coastal Zone (EN2.5) is defined in the Local Plan as:

‘Development within the Borough’s Coastal Zones, as defined on the Policies Map, will be limited to that which is essential in meeting the needs of coastal navigation, amenity and informal recreation, tourism and leisure, flood protection, fisheries, nature conservation and /or agriculture. Development will not be allowed which would allow the loss of secondary sea embankments.’

The connection of this policy to flood risk is that it permits development that is essential in meeting the needs of flood protection. Persimmon’s proposal to build 49 residential dwellings in the Coastal Zone was clearly against Local Plan Policy and was correctly refused on those grounds last December. The applicant re-submitted an application, increasing the offer of affordable housing to 20%, but crucially the number of dwellings in the Coastal Zone, and indeed for the application as a whole, remained unchanged. This application was put before the Planning Committee at the meeting held on 5th October 2017. Initially the application was again correctly recommended and seconded for refusal on the grounds that it contravened Policy EN2 (Coastal Zone) by Councillors for wards outside of Hesketh-with Becconsall & Tarleton.

 

However, Ward Councillor for Hesketh-with- Becconsall, Iain Ashcroft, supported the application by putting forward the argument that, according to local knowledge, the river has never flooded along this site and were it to do so, because of the topology of the area ,would only flood on the river bank on the opposite side of the river to this development.

He also postulated that the evidence of ‘flooding’ seen and discussed during the previous application was the result of a broken land drain, rather than the river.

Despite there being several local residents in the chamber, who overlook the river on a daily basis, they were not asked to verify whether this claim is accurate.

In reality, the discussion in the chamber regarding a potential flooding risk was irrelevant to the crucial issue regarding whether the revised application had addressed one of the previous reasons for refusal ie, the significant encroachment of residential development into Coastal Zone. Surely, by failing to reduce the number of dwellings by even one, this had clearly not been addressed.

The Planning department stated at the planning committee meeting that it is not sufficient for a planning application to be shown to be contrary to planning policy, but Councillors must demonstrate the harm that would be done by not upholding the policy. Is this a change in planning rules?

 

The outcome, we are sorry to say for local residents, is that the application was approved (13 members to 2).

We apologise to local residents that we were unable to stop what we believe to be a massive over development of this site, with inadequate infrastructure to support it, despite the application being contrary to important polices within the Local Plan.

Will Local Plan Policies be upheld?

It appears that Planning officers may have allowed the developer to believe that Local Plan Policies may be set aside in the pursuit of residential development.

This application emerged shortly after the Local Plan 2012–2027 was adopted in 2013, yet officers appear unable to defend Plan policies in the face of the developer’s demands. The developer seems to be under the impression that the policy on Coastal Zone is flexible and, so long as the Marine Management Organisation has no objection, residential development is permissible.

Development within land designated as Coastal Zone is prohibited unless it meets very limited criteria, which this application fails to do. In addition, by failing to secure employment use for the site the application fails to meet Local Plan Policy EC3.

Reasons for refusal of the Reserved Matters application on 13th January 2017 have still not been adequately addressed, neither have the serious concerns of LCC Highways. If a proper Masterplanning exercise had been undertaken, as mandated by the Local Plan, the Rural Development Opportunity at Hesketh Bank may well, by now, have been delivered bringing the required mix of Housing, Employment, Recreational use and Linear Park without the need to invade Coastal Zone against Plan Policy EN2.5 thereby achieving the aims of Policy EC3

Unless there are major changes to this application, prior to resubmission, it should again be refused. WLBC should then undertake the required Masterplanning exercise to deliver a plan that meets the requirements of the RDO within the limits of Plan Policies and respects the wishes of existing residents and other stakeholders.

Developer led plans inevitably focus on benefits for the developer. Masterplanning seeks to address a wider remit for the whole community.

A Council led Masterplan would ensure all elements were fairly addressed, not only the residential build.

Will LCC Highways back down in the face of developer’s high handed defiance ?

In July 2017 Lancashire County Council Highways department again expressed major concerns with Persimmon Homes plan to build on Altys Brickworks and adjacent Green Field. The majority of their concerns had been raised in the previous Reserved Matters application in 2016 but LCC Highways claim these were never addressed. Highways letter to Planning of 20th July 2017  states:

Highways will not adopt any of the development served off the second access (south of Mill Lane) and much of the site served of the main access does not meet our adoptable standards.

LCC Highways claim Persimmon dismissed their comments stating that all the roads (where issues were highlighted) were to remains private access roads. How will these roads be managed?

Of particular interest to potential purchases of these properties is the revelation that all garage sizes are smaller than Highways recommended 6 x 3m.

Persimmon have since proposed to increased the size of their detached garages to comply but for houses with integral garages, these is no proposal to change, only to increase the width of their driveways.

If anyone would like to make a comment that counts about Persimmon’s proposals to build 212 dwellings on the old Brick works and adjacent Greenfield, including almost 50 dwellings in the Coastal Zone, the only comment that counts is a Planning Comment. For many of us, this would be an objection.

Please follow the menu option  MAKE A PLANNING COMMENT at the top of the page for guidance on how to do this.

The Planning application reference number is 2017/0492/ARM

We don’t yet know whether this resubmitted application will be heard at the September Planning Committee (7th September, 7:30PM) but we’ll let you know

We hope the Planning Committee will again refuse the application, particularly as there has been NO REDUCTION in the number of dwellings proposed on Coastal Zone since the last Reserved Matters application was refused.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR CONCERNS KNOWN TO:  Plan.apps@westlancs.gov.uk

Make a Planning Comment

If anyone would like to make a comment that counts about Persimmon’s proposals to build 212 dwellings on the old Brick works and adjacent Greenfield, including almost 50 dwellings in the Coastal Zone, the only comment that counts is a Planning Comment. For many of us, this would be an objection.

Please follow the menu option  MAKE A PLANNING COMMENT at the top of the page for guidance on how to do this.

On 8th December 2016, the Planning Committee refused the previous Reserved Matters application on the grounds of inadequate provision of affordable housing and proposals to build within the Coastal Zone, where residential development is NOT permitted (in contravention of Local Plan Policy EN2.5)

The new application still proposes to build almost 50 dwellings within the Coastal Zone and increases the number of affordable to only 20%, from the previous 11% (Local Plan Policy is for 35% affordable housing for developments of 15 or more dwellings).

We hope the Planning Committee will again refuse the application, particularly as there has been NO REDUCTION in the number of dwellings proposed on Coastal Zone since the last Reserved Matters application was refused.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR CONCERNS KNOWN TO:  Plan.apps@westlancs.gov.uk

 

Resubmission but same assault on the Coastal Zone

Persimmon have made a new application to build 212 dwellings on the site of the old Brick Works and adjacent Green field land.

Local residents were informed on Friday 20th May that they have until 8th June 2017 (20 days) to comment on Persimmon’s latest Reserved Matters application. Their previous application was refused on the basis of proposals to build within the Coastal Zone and on the poor offer of only 11% affordable housing. Council policy requires 35% affordable housing for developments in excess of 15 dwellings.

The developer’s planning statement associated with this new application shows a continued disregard of the Coastal Zone Policy but an increase to 20% on the offer of affordable housing.

Local Plan Policy EN2.5 clearly states:

“Development within the Borough’s Coastal Zones, as defined on the Policies Map, will be limited to that which is essential in meeting the needs of coastal navigation, amenity and informal recreation, tourism and leisure, flood protection, fisheries, nature conservation and / or agriculture.”

In the developer’s planning statement within the application it states:

“7.7   Policy EN2 does not seek to restrict development completely but to limit the amount.”

This is incorrect as the Local Plan policy seeks to limit the ‘type‘ of development.

Residential development is NOT listed as permitted development on Coastal Zone within the local plan and therefore it is not permitted.

Even if Persimmon’s interpretation of the policy on Coastal Zone were correct, their proposal does not merely intrude into the Coastal Zone, it proposes residential development on almost every possible part of it within this site. There has been no limit on the proposal to build within the Coastal Zone.

Proposed development within the Coastal Zone:

If you wish to comment on this application you can do so in the following ways:

  • Through the Council’s website Online Service – Planning Application Comments
    (enter the new application number 2017/0492/ARM)
  • By email to plan.apps@westlancs.gov.uk
    (include full application reference number (2017/0492/ARM) and your full name and address
    send your comment as a word or PDF attachment then your email address will not be publicly displayed)

  • By writing to:
    P.O. Box16, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk. West Lancashire L39 2DF
    (include full application reference number (2017/0492/ARM) and your full name and address)

For an example on how to write a valid planning objection see
this guide from CPRE

Comments must be received no later than 8th June 2017

The next Local Plan – have your say

Although the current Local Plan was adopted less than four years ago and aims to cover the period up to 2027, it is normal for councils to adopt a new Local Plan roughly half way through the term. Since they take at least three years to prepare, now is the time to start.

Please go here: Submit your comments to complete a survey of just 36 questions.
(all comments do need to be submitted by 28th April so please don’t delay)

Local Plans aim to maintain a good supply of deliverable sites for development over the period they cover.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires each local planning authority to produce a Local Plan (NPPF 153) and “Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential” (NPPF 155)

This is your opportunity to influence the way the next Local Plan develops.

The Council held a series of Consultation Workshops about the Local Plan Review. If you missed that, you can see a copy of their presentation here:

Presentation given at Consultation workshops

If you want more detail, please read the following:

Consultation: Issues and Options

Download the Spatial Portrait Paper
Download the Strategic Development Options Paper
Download the Economic Policy Options Paper
Download the Environmental Policy Options Paper
Download the Social Policy Options Paper

Comment on the above papers

Consultation: Scope of the Local Plan

View and comment on the scope of the Local Plan

Submit your comments

Consultation: Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment

View and comment on the SHELAA

Comment, or submit information, on the SHELAA

reference:

Local Development Scheme (LDS)
(sets out the anticipated timetable for preparing the Plan)

Our view

The view of HBTAG is that large scale development in the Northern Parishes (Tarleton, Hesketh Bank & Banks) is unsustainable and is rapidly changing what was a rural community into a throttled commuter dormatory settlement. The area offers no additional employment opportunities, indeed some businesses are closing. The traffic problems on Hesketh Lane and other limitations on local infrastructure mean development should be limited to avoid further inconvenience and loss of amenity for local residents.

We feel development should be focussed where it is needed and of the type appropriate for that area.

Skelmersdale has excellent road access (M57 & M58) and offers a significant opportunity to boost the local economy as the Liverpool2 deep water terminal brings opportunities for new ‘spin off’ industries.

To access the Planning Department’s portal on the Local Plan Review, go here:

http://www.westlancs.gov.uk/localplan

(all comments do need to be submitted by 28th April so please don’t delay)

APPLICATION REFUSED!

The committee members were split along party lines at the December meeting of the Planing Committee on Thursday evening (8th December). Conservative members voted to accept the application whilst Labour members voted to refuse.

Refusal was on the basis of proposals to build within the Coastal Zone and on the poor offer of only 11% affordable housing.

There will no doubt be an appeal against the decision but those voting to refuse made it clear that they were supporting the residents of Tarleton & Hesketh Bank and that they deserved a better proposal than was offered.

There was much discussion of the traffic problems on Hesketh Lane. Kevin Farrington of Persimmon claimed that the development would actually help to improve the traffic problems.

When this application returns, and we’re sure it will, let’s hope there will be better community involvement and a proposal that will not seek to build in the Coastal Zone but develop more of the Brownfield. A proposal that makes specific provision for the elderly might not signifficantly add to the traffic problems of Hesketh Lane and may indeed bring the required employment to this Rural Development Opportunity.

Persimmon lodge amendments to their application

Persimmon have proposed an amendment to their Reserve Matters application for residential development on the site of the old Brickworks in Hesketh Bank and adjacent Greenfield in Tarleton.
This application, originally lodged  in March, still seeks to build on the more lucrative greenfield and avoids the need to deal with the disused tip.
Much of this greenfield is on land designated as coastal zone, where residential development is not permitted.
They propose to cram in 211 dwellings on the site and many of these new residents will join you all in slow progress along Hesketh Lane.
Despite what many will tell you, this is by no means a done deal. If you are concerned about this proposal, please let the planning department know by lodging a valid objection.

Documents relating to the application may be viewed on the planning website using that reference, or through this link:
2016/0279/ARM – associated documents

HBTAG guidance on how to comment on this application may be found here:
Make a Planning comment

Application for 211 dwellings slipped in before Easter

Local Residents close to the proposed development of Altys Brickworks and adjacent Greenfield in Hesketh Bank & Tarleton received notification dated 22nd March that Persimmon Homes lodged a planning application for 211 dwellings on the site of Altys old brick works and the adjacent Greenfield site.

The application reference number is 2016/0279/ARM – Approval of Reserved Matters for the erection of 211 dwellings including associated infrastructure and details of appearance, landscaping, layout and scale.

Documents relating to the application may be viewed on the planning website using that reference, or through this link:
2016/0279/ARM – associated documents

Of the 211 dwellings, 46 are planned to be built within the Coastal Zone, an area protected against residential development in the West Lancashire’s Local Plan 2012-2027 by Policy EN2.5.

In their Planning statement, Persimmon seek to justify their assault on the Coastal Zone on the basis that neither the Marine Management Organisation nor the Environment Agency have objected to their plan. Unfortunately for Persimmon, the Local Plan makes no mention of relaxing policy EN2.5 in the event of lack of objection to a plan to build there.

We hope our Council and their officers have the integrity to uphold the policies in the Local Plan to protect the villages from an unsustainable over-development. Upholding the policy regarding Coastal Zone alone will reduce the development by 22% and bring a huge benefit to residents of a reduction in future traffic flows along local roads, Hesketh Lane in particular.

 

If you wish to comment on this application you can do so in the following ways:

  • Through the Council’s website Online Service – Planning Application Comments
    (enter  the new application number 2016/0279/ARM)
  • By email to plan.apps@westlancs.gov.uk
    (include full application reference number (2016/0279/ARM) and your full name and address
    send your comment as a word or PDF attachment then your email address will not be publicly displayed
    )
  • By writing to:
    P.O. Box16, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk. West Lancashire L39 2DF
    (include full application reference number (2016/0279/ARM) and your full name and address)

Comments must be received no later than 21st April 2016


How to make a valid planning comment:

Comments on Planning Applications are only valid if they include the following:

  • Include reference to the planning application  (in this case 2016/0279/ARM)
    (it is good practice to also describe this: “Building of up to 211 dwellings on Altys Brickworks and adjoining Greenfield” should do)
  • You must include Your full name & address
  • Don’t use your signature, just print your name
  • Don’t include your telephone number
  • Don’t be rude or abusive or your comment will be rejected
  • If you want your comment to be taken as an objection, use the words  “I object”  so your intentions are clear
  • A group comment counts as one comment so send individual ones
  • Send your comments by one of the methods shown above

Response to Persimmon’s leaflet

Today we sent the following response to Persimmon’s leaflet which was delivered to some residents of Tarleton & Hesketh Bank on Sunday 7th Feb:

It is a positive step that the proposed number of dwellings has reduced from the original planning application, but the need for such a high density development has still not been established.

Given the limited information provided within Persimmon’s leaflet regarding Alty’s Brickworks residential development the following concerns remain:

  • It is both surprising and disappointing that such a prominent, national developer would seek to build on land designated as Coastal Zone, where house building is not permitted according to Policy EN2.5 within the adopted Local Plan for West Lancashire. It is even more surprising that this disregard of plan policy has remained largely unchallenged by the planning department since the submission of the original application, shortly after the adoption of the Local Plan.

According to the ambitiously titled “masterplan” plan recently provided it appears that approximately 20% of the proposed development would be on land where house building is not permitted. There can be no justification for this.

  • The proposal also does not appear to comply with Policy EC3 within the adopted Local Plan because it does not deliver mixed use, including employment.
  • This developer led proposal therefore ignores “the presumption in favour” of the local plan.
  • In the section “Progress so far” the leaflet is factually incorrect to state that within the Local Plan”…there was an allocation for up to 270 houses.” The Local Plan refers only to an “anticipated site capacity of 270 dwellings” and the Independent Inspector clarified that this does not guarantee delivery of a specific number of units.
  • We would challenge the assertion, made in the leaflet, of a strong infrastructure. Residents and local councillors know the road infrastructure is inadequate to take current traffic levels, let alone the increased levels of traffic that would be generated by the proposed development. In particular, there is not the opportunity to improve Hesketh Lane (the one route in and out of Tarleton & Hesketh Bank).

The recent request by Persimmon to remove condition 30 (detailing the efficiency and sustainability measures to be incorporated into the building design and construction) from the outline planning permission, the proposal to close nearby pumping stations and the fact that the sewerage system is inadequate for the existing number of dwellings would all indicate there will not be a strong infrastructure to support development of the size proposed.

  • The leaflet claims “potential inward investment into the area is considerable and this will increase with the addition of the Community Infrastructure Levy (approximately £1,600,000) ..”. Is either the local council or Persimmon in a position to confirm that all, or at least the majority of this CIL money will be spent on improving Hesketh Bank and Tarleton? If not, this statement could be construed to be, at best, misleading.

In order to help to make the proposal sustainable we request that you take on board our comments to further reduce the density of the site and to ensure that the policies and land designations within the adopted local plan are adhered to.

« Older posts