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How can this be allowed to happen?

Persimmon masterplan overlayed with Coastal zone

Click for larger image (opens in a new window)

Last weekend some residents of Tarleton & Hesketh Bank received a copy of Persimmon’s latest plan to develop the brownfield site of Altys Brickworks and adjacent greenfield grazing land.

West Lancs Borough Council, in its Local Plan 2012 – 2027,  designated part of this site to be within its Coastal Zone.

The Council’s own policy on Coastal Zone 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.

(from Policy EN2: Preserving and Enhancing West Lancashire’s Natural Environment)

How then can this proposal be allowed to go ahead?

The problem here is that the planning department are fully aware of Persimmon’s intentions. Persimmon have previously published plans that include housing developments within the Coastal Zone. Why has WLBC Planning department not guided the developer to adhere to Council policy? The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages a presumption in favour of sustainable development but surely this must comply with policies in the Local Plan.

At the time of posting Persimmon have not yet lodged a planning application for this proposal. Persimmon invite you to comment on their proposal, and while this is OK,  HBTAG recommend you take the time to comment on the planning application when it is lodged.

We’ll let you know when this happens and also provide helpful hints and tips on putting together a valid comment (there are pitfalls in this for the unwary!)

 

Removal of condition 30 – What does this mean?

Some residents in close proximity to the proposed development at Altys Brickworks and associated Green field received a letter last week dated 17th January from West Lancs Planning department proposing removal of condition 30 from the planning application. This proposal has its own application number (2016/0075/FUL) and documents relating to it may be viewed on the planning website. (click view associated documents)

The letter was brief and may have left many wondering what Condition 30 was and why was it proposed that it should be removed.

Condition 30 states:

No development on any phase (as set out in the phasing programme) shall take place until an Energy Statement has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority for that phase. The Statement shall detail the efficiency and sustainability measures that will be incorporated into the building design and construction. All dwellings shall, as a minimum, achieve the Code of Sustainable Homes Level 3 rising to Level 4 and Level 6 in line with the increases in Part L of the Building Regulations. No development on a phase shall be occupied until a letter of assurance detailing how the dwelling(s) have met the relevant Code Level has been issued by a DCLG approved certification body. Within 6 months of the occupation of the dwelling(s) a Final Certificate, certifying that the relevant Code for Sustainable Homes Level has been achieved shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority.

So why remove this?

On the 27th March 2015 the Government withdrew the Code for Sustainable Homes and have consequently instructed local planning authorities not to set requirements relating to the construction, internal layout or performance of new dwellings, including any policy requiring any level of the Code for Sustainable Homes to be achieved.

Although this might initially give fears that developers are relieved of their responsibility to provide energy and water efficient homes, the Government is still committed to deliver a policy on zero carbon homes in later this year.

 

If you wish to comment on the proposal you can do so via the Council’s website:

  • Through the Council’s website Online Service – Planning Application Comments
    (enter  the new application number 2016/0075/FUL)
  • By email to plan.apps@westlancs.gov.uk
    (include full application reference number (2016/0075/FUL) and your full name and address)
  • By writing to:
    P.O. Box16, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk. West Lancashire L39 2DF
    (include full application reference number (2016/0075/FUL) and your full name and address) 

    Comments must be received no later than 17th February 2016

 

Further reading:

Planning Update March 2015 (Speech by Eric Pickles MP – 25th March 2015)

http://blogs.deloitte.co.uk/realestate/2015/04/the-end-of-the-code-for-sustainable-homes-what-does-it-mean-for-you.html
Angela Payne – Senior Sustainability Consultant, Deloitte Real Estate

Response from Persimmon

Following an exchange of emails with Persimmon regarding the level of public consultation about the Alty Development, HBTAG have now received the following information in an email from the Planning and Strategic Manager of Persimmon Homes:-

“With regards to our proposals for the site, you may be aware that ecological surveys are ongoing and will continue until September. Whilst we were keen to develop the least ecologically sensitive part of the site (ie the southern parcel) as soon as possible, we are now of the view that a single reserved matters application for the whole of the residential element (both northern and southern parcels, including the linear park), is the best approach.”

In taking this decision we have been mindful of comments received from residents at our consultation event, and officers and Members at West Lancs Borough Council, who expressed concern that that the whole site may not be delivered. A single application for the whole of the residential element will provide greater clarity as to what form the overall development will take. The results of the ecological surveys will determine the extent of the site that can be developed, and the total number of homes that can be provided.

We will engage in further pre-application discussions with WLBC and public consultation ahead of submission of the reserved matters application.”

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.

 

Persimmon to hold another Public consultation over the Altys Brickworks development

On Monday evening 11th May, Hesketh with Becconsall Parish Council held its annual general meeting.

During the meeting, Mr Cropper (Clerk) stated that Persimmon were planning to hold a public consultation at the Village Community Centre, Station Road, Hesketh Bank between 4 – 8pm on Tuesday 19th May. This on the basis that the developers have now agreed in principle, the layout of the northern end of the development. We assume he meant to say the Southern end as this (the greenfield) became phase 1 in the Outline application which was approved by the planning committee in December 2014 This follows the recent posting of the decision notice by the planning department of WLBC for Persimmon’s outline application to build on Altys land at Tarleton and Hesketh Bank.

During the meeting, Mr Cropper notified the councillors that, since he had a financial interest in Persimmon, he would remove himself from meetings between Altys, the developers and the planners but would continue with duties as the Council’s Clerk in negotiations.

The Parish Council later moved to disband their planning committee. This having had no reason to sit over the past two years despite the many large and smaller developments that are proposed for the villages of Tarleton & Hesketh Bank.

Those present at the WLBC Planning meeting of 13/11/14 will remember Councillor Pope’s warning that failure to engage to a greater extent than they had previously may lead to detailed applications being refused in the future.

With less than a week to go before the meeting, we have not seen any public notices inviting attendance. We urge anyone planning to attend the meeting to make sure they record any concerns they may have at the meeting and not to respond only to the questions posed by the developers.

For those unfamiliar with this proposed Altys/Persimmon development, the plan is to build around 270 dwellings across adjoining greenfield land in Tarleton and brownfield land on the site of Alty’s old Brickworks in Hesketh Bank. The planned phasing has been reversed. Persimmon now plan to build on the green field first, half of which is within the Coastal Zone (protected against development by West Lancs Borough Council’s policies EN2.5 & EN9.24) with building on the brownfield to follow.

This application has caused a great deal of local concern in the two years it has been running as residents fear the high peak traffic volumes on Hesketh Lane will increase, local services will be further stretched, a greater burden added to the already failing drainage and sewer systems, not to mention low water pressures.

 

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.

Local residents deserve proper consultation

Whilst the Outline Planning  Application at Alty’s has been approved by the planning committee, it is still showing as ‘pending decision’ on the planning website. We are advised that the planning obligation has not yet been agreed so the decision notice cannot be issued without the signed planning obligation as it too forms part of the decision.

The Local Plan was adopted in October 2013. It included a requirement in Policy EC3 to undertake a masterplanning exercise for any development at Alty’s Brickworks. Despite this, WLBC planning have stated there is no accepted definition of masterplanning and therefore no requirement for the masterplan for this site to be of the standard required for Yew Tree Farm. However, the submitted ‘masterplan’  appears to provide less information than would typically accompany a standard application. This is a complex site and a masterplan should surely, as a minimum, provide certainty regarding what will be delivered on the site, to deliver the optimum mix of employment, leisure and housing, within the many natural constraints of the site.

We do not believe the ‘masterplan’ offered thus far by the developer provides that certainty and that the developer should seek to undertake meaningful consultation with the residents of Hesketh with Becconsall and Tarleton and their Parish Councils.

Councillor Pope warns failure to consult may lead to future refusal of Alty/Persimmon application

At the meeting of the WLBC Planning committee on 13/11/14, Councillor Pope expressed regret that the request for the additional condition to the Altys Hesketh Bank application (2013/1258/OUT) to conduct a masterplanning exercise could not be legally enforced. He went on to warn:

“….however I would hope and encourage the applicant to consider the considerable disquiet there is in Hesketh Bank in relation to this application and hope that they will take notice and engage to a greater extent than they have to-date with the public, otherwise any detailed application may be refused in the future”

Councillor Pemberton concurred with this statement and asked that the committee members be given the details of the legal advice that was given to John Harrison, Assistant Director Planning, on this matter.

Recent major applications

  • 2013/1258/HYB Hybrid planning application – 275 houses
    Changed from Hybrid to Outline 09/06/14
  • 2013/1258/OUT Outline – Erection of up to 275 dwellings across two phases
    Approved by committee 09/10/14, decision pending
    (see planning documents here)
  • 2014/0088/FUL – Installation of a telecommunications base station comprising a 23m lightweight lattice mast
    Approved by committee, decision notice given 17th November 2014
    (see planning documents here)
  • 2014/0704/OUT – Outline application for the erection of up to 17 dwellings, with access, other matters reserved
    Approved by committee 13/11/14, decision pending
    (see planning documents here)
  • 2014/0877/OUT – Outline – Affordable housing development including details of scale and means of access from Becconsall Lane
    Received 11/08/14, pending consideration
    (see planning documents here)
  • 2014/1302/ARM – Reserved Matters – Erection of 5 dwellings (including details of scale, layout, appearance and landscaping)
    Received 02/12/14, pending consideration
    (see planning documents here)
  • 2014/1336/FUL – Demolition of existing church buildings and the subsequent erection of 14 affordable dwellings and church hall with associated access roads and parking
    Received 10/12/14, pending consideration
    (see planning documents here)

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Our New Website

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It’s hard to imagine who might want to cause us problems but I suppose not everyone shares our concerns.

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