Author: Stephen

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

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.

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.

Were you invited?

Some of us were invited to a Charles Church (a lesser known part of Persimmon Homes) consultation event which was held on Tuesday 19th May at the Hesketh with Becconsall Village Community Centre. I say ‘invited’ since this came across clearly as an invitation only event. We are not aware of any public notices in the local press or elsewhere, we saw no signage outside of the Village Hall to give passers by any indication that the event was taking place.

Please let us know if you received one of their prestigious invites so we can map the range of the leaflet drop.

If you were not invited or missed the event but wish to comment on Persimmon’s proposal to build 66 houses on the Greenfield site next to Alty’s Brickworks, you can download a copy of their public consultation comment form.

(You will notice that no expense was spared as Persimmon were happy to use forms with an obvious error merely crossed out and that Persimmon have used their lesser known Charles Church branding on the form)

As it was, if you did miss the event, you missed very little. Those who attended Persimmon’s previous consultation exercises two years ago, held in both Hesketh Bank and Tarleton and Tuesday’s event, will have noticed how ‘low key’ this event was in comparison.

Despite strong opposition from local residents and a perceived ignoring of the requirement within the recently adopted Local Plan to conduct Masterplanning, Persimmon finally gained approval on 30th April this year for their outline application to build on precious Greenfield and the Brownfield land of the old Brickwork site. The change from a hybrid to an outline application in June 2014 saw the reversal of phasing from Brownfield development first to Greenfield first. This select event unveiled a plan to build 66 houses on the Greenfield site, half of which is within the Coastal Zone. West Lancashire Borough Council’s own policy forbids building within the Coastal Zone yet for some reason, this policy is not being followed.

If you do feel strongly enough about the over-development of our villages to download and complete one of Persimmon’s consultation comment forms, please be polite and constructive in your comments. Persimmon are one of our nation’s largest house builders and, like all commercial organisations, are required to make a profit for their shareholders. However, we believe development should also benefit existing and future residents of the villages. This can be achieved.  Please focus your comments on how the development might impact on our villages, our congested roads, our already stretched services and our often failing infrastructure.

 

It’s Just a Lane

Most residents of Hesketh Bank and Tarleton rely on Hesketh Lane as their main route to and from work or for access to shops and other services.

It is well known locally that progress along Hesketh Lane can, at times, be slowed to a snail’s pace at school drop off and pick up times and when people head to and return from their workplaces outside of the villages. Recently, traffic lights have imposed additional hold-ups as essential upgrades and maintenance work is carried out.

One of the main concerns local residents expressed over the proposed development at the Altys Brickworks site is the belief that Hesketh Lane can not cope with the extra traffic that 270+ new dwellings would bring.

HBTAG members conducted traffic surveys on Hesketh Lane and Station Road over a two week period in June 2013 and, apart from the high traffic volumes noted, were staggered to discover how many vehicles are using Kearsley Avenue as a rat run to avoid delays at the top of Hesketh Lane. This was acknowledged by the Highways department of Lancashire County Council [1]

Kearsley Avenue is a quiet 20mph residential road, many residents have young families and pets and the burden of the rat run traffic is very unfair on them.

Shortly after the Planning committee approved the Persimmon Outline planning application, the Green Lane Link was kicked into the long grass, being postponed until 2020 at the earliest. As part of the application process, the Green Lane Link was cited as mitigation for the additional traffic the housing development would inevitably bring.

Persimmon commissioned a report to put forward the case that Hesketh Lane would not be adversely affected by their proposed development. On 14th January 2014, David Watson (LCC Highways) wrote to John Harrison (Assistant Director Planning WLBC) highlighting several errors and omissions in the report by SCP, understating the likely impact of the proposed development. Mr Watson was emphatic about the failure failure to acknowledge the Kearsley Avenue rat run [2]

“However, no reference to, or consideration taken, for the Kearsley Avenue/Carr Lane rat run!”

[1] Email 12/02/14 from David Watson (LCC Highways) to Peter Todd (Principal Transport Planner SCP)

[2] Email 14/01/14 from David Watson (LCC Highways) to John Harrison (Assistant Director Planning WLBC)

 

WE THINK HESKETH LANE HAS REACHED SATURATION POINT IN RESPECT OF TRAFFIC VOLUMES AND ROAD SAFETY.

 

If you have a view on the traffic issues of Hesketh Lane or the use of Kearsley Avenue as a rat run, please let us know.