Tag: planning committee

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.

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.

 

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.