Tag: Altys

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.

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.

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

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.

 

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.