Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 20, 2016

Developers Who “Misunderstand” Planning Permissions Breach Planning Permissions

The WLBC approved Serco Leisure Operating Ltd appointed Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd Company Number 07006297, by now well known for its creation by landfill of the 9 hole junior golf heap 003 course and the foot golf farce 4-21 facility at WLBC owned Beacon Park Golf Course for “Commercial In Confidence” reasons unknown to us. Clearly it is creating unique showpiece facilities for WLBC, local residents, and taxpayers.

Included in its original approved planning permissions was “Planning condition 8 of planning permission 2011/0787/FUL states that: Operation hours of the construction/engineering works shall be limited between 0900 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday and 0700 to 1300 hours on Saturdays. No works shall take place on Sundays or Bank Holidays”.

The Transport Statement prepared by URS and accepted as part of 2011/0787/FUL states “The contractor will be responsible for ensuring that their traffic to and from the site adheres to the agreed routes. This will be carefully monitored by the Engineer and/or Project Manager throughout the contract to ensure traffic nuisance is not inadvertently caused. The contractor will be required to schedule HGV 004 traffic to minimise the number of vehicles waiting to enter the site at any one time. The client will provide reasonable space on site to minimise queuing or waiting of HGVs outside the site boundary. No material imports or other routine site operations will be carried out on any Sunday, public or bank holiday without the prior written approval of the planning authority”. And also “The TRICS analysis of a junior golf course shows that there would be minimal trip increases to the site during the morning and evening peak periods. The “Guidance on Transport Assessments” (GTA) published by the DfT suggests that the threshold for detailed traffic assessment relate to those developments which generate 30 two-way peak hour vehicle trips (total 60 vehicle trips). The Proposed Development would not generate vehicle trips above the DfT threshold”. Who could misunderstood that?

There have been 7 Planning Enforcements relating to this site, including “Breach of planning condition 6 on planning approval 2016/0213/FUL – working hours” and this being a result of a complaint. Notwithstanding which “Variation of Condition No. 8 on planning permission 2011/0787/FUL to read ‘Operation hours of the construction/engineering works shall be limited between 0800 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday and 0700 to 1300 hours on Saturdays. No works shall take place on Sundays or Bank Holidays” became ‘I am satisfied that the proposed variation is acceptable and will maintain satisfactory levels of amenity for any neighbouring properties and is therefore compliant with Policy GN3 of the WLLP…That planning permission be GRANTED subject to the following conditions… Operation hours of the construction/engineering works shall be limited between 0800 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday and 0700 to 1300 hours on Saturdays. No works shall take place on Sundays or Bank/Local Holidays”.

But not satisfied by that, Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd once again allowed breaches to occur including Sunday. A local resident emailed a West Lancashire Planning officer 17 February 2016 “Further to our telephone conversation, following the extremely wet January, work has started again on the alterations. The site is not operating under the agreed times of 0900 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday and 0700 to 1300 hours on Saturdays, no works Sundays or Bank Holidays. The work is commencing Monday to Fridays much earlier than 0900 hours and also this last Sunday (14th of Feb.), unsure of the start time but work was certainly going on at lunchtime – tipper trucks operating. As I stated we had the same problems last year and I dread this year being the same yet again!”

Response email from a West Lancashire Planning Officer “Further to your correspondence of 17th February 2016 regarding the above. I have investigated this matter and can provide the following update: Planning condition 8 of planning permission 2011/0787/FUL states that: Operation hours of the construction/engineering works shall be limited between 0900 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday and 0700 to 1300 hours on Saturdays. No works shall take place on Sundays or Bank Holidays. As a result of your correspondence, I visited the site and established that work did recently take place at the site on a Sunday in breach of the planning condition. The developers state that this was due to a misunderstanding on their part as they believed that the above condition only applied to construction vehicles visiting the site. [What did they think tipper trucks were tipping despite the Sunday ban?]

“I have received their assurances however that no further works will take place on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. In addition during my visit, I established that construction vehicles are arriving at the site Monday to Friday prior to 0900am. The developer explained that the construction vehicles belong to outside contractors who are travelling to the site each day from varying locations across Merseyside/Lancashire and in order to prevent traffic congestion on Stannanought Road (with construction vehicles stacking-up on that road), the developers are allowing the construction vehicles access to the site by opening the temporary access gate at the Stannanought Road entrance prior to 0900am. [Clearly, positive breaches admitted to, guilty but with pragmatic mitigation M’lud!]

“The developers understand that this breaches the planning condition but believed this to be a pragmatic response to alleviate potential traffic congestion. In circumstances such as this, developers can seek to vary the permitted hours by the submission of a planning application and I have today been informed by the developers that they intend to submit such an application beaconscribble[click to read] to vary the permitted hours Monday to Friday from 0900-1600 to 0800 – 1600 for the reasons outlined above. As stated previously the developers have given their assurances that no further works will take place on a Sunday or Bank Holiday and the Saturday hours will remain unaffected. Once the planning application has been received it will be available for public viewing and comment and will be assessed against planning policies/legislation/local plan. I will update you further once the application is received”.

Readers will appreciate that Planning Permissions do not include the right of developers to take and claim “misunderstandings” while in the same breath a) understanding this does breach planning conditions and b) believing this to be a “pragmatic response to alleviate traffic congestion”.

So it all kicked off again recently, the working hours conditions were blatantly breached and a complaint was made to WLBC on whose behalf a planning officer wrote in response “Further to my correspondence of 30th August 2016 regarding the above. I have visited the site and note that works are still ongoing on the driving range. I have discussed the working hours with the Site Manager who after making some enquiries with sub-contractors, confirms that the working hours appear to have been breached. They state that this was due to a misunderstanding. I have reinforced the planning conditions to them and the permitted working hours and made it clear that a further breach would lead to the service of a Breach of Condition Notice. If you become aware of a further breach of the working hours I would appreciate it if you could inform me”.

What does all this prove? That the permitted working hours transgressions are always misunderstandings, never a clear and unarguable deliberate breach of planning permissions. That the officer received confirmation from the [Serco?] site manager that the working hours “appear ie have given the impression of”, being breached. Well they have or they haven’t and the resident knows they have been. And, with such serial offences going unpunished, why would the resident bother to inform the officer of others? What does a Breach of Condition Notice mean? Does it penalise the offender? Does it compensate the resident, apparently the only loser here? Of course not, but it is apparent proof if proof was needed that the Serco Leisure Operating Limited/Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd landfill deal appears to have been approved as a very special arrangement with WLBC that withstands all scrutiny. All commercial in confidence of course!


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