Tag: Coastal Zone

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.

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

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!)