Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 12, 2016

Development Noughts And Crosses

Wherever we live in West Lancashire, numbers of houses built or planned to be built are crucially important, be they for 8, 400, 1,000, or however many noughts might be added. Britain building its way out of recession, apparently. The last few years have left us all pre-occupied with the Local Plan 2012-2027 west-lancs-plan-front-cover-image, the so called “vision of how of how we’d like the borough to be in 15 years time” while always bearing in mind that vision was held by the government and some local councillors but not the public.

In short, the Local Plan 2012-2027 states that it met the required legalities and soundness, and that it met Section 20 (5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and it complied with the National Planning Policy Framework. It was adopted on 16 October 2013 under protest from campaigners against it.

But developers with long term options to buy precious agricultural land thought otherwise and with the ink not dry on it were already into their strategy to find flaws in its delivery. How dare we think we had a 15 year Local Plan! A reduction in borough housing target completion rates was recently claimed by Wainhomes and Redrow, leading to one success at appeal and one pending. 400 new houses will be built on green belt land in Aughton. They’ve crossed the Rubicon and as Julius Caesar said “alea iacta est”, the die is cast.

And while the giant political donor developers grab the big sites, the minnows are also active, or hope to be at Scarth Hill Lane in Aughton. 2016/0878/FUL. The erection of eight detached dwellings and access road following demolition of existing buildings. Store and Premises, 30A Scarth Hill Lane, Aughton. Ward Aughton Park. Developers Kingswood Homes UK Ltd kingswood, 8 Bridge Court, Liverpool New Road, Little Hoole Preston PR4 5JT who built Mount Carmel Gardens, a unique gated development offering a selection of brand new 3 & 4 bedroom detached properties with Kingswood Homes’ high specification, in the “well-established and extremely sought after settlement of Aughton”.

This proposal includes a WLBC “Air Quality condition…3 Prior to the first occupation of any dwelling, those dwellings shall be provided with an electric vehicle charging point which shall be retained for that purpose thereafter”.

“The redevelopment proposal would have a lesser or neutral effect on the Green Belt by replacing one large building with 8 smaller dwellings. Volume of existing building = 4137 m3. Volume of proposed 8 dwellings = 4095 m3 (volume would decrease by 1%)

“The proposal is to replace a large single storage building scarth3 with an existing volume of 4137 m3 with 8 dwellings which equate to a total volume of 4095 m3. The scheme for 8 houses is below the volume of the existing building on site and cannot therefore be said to have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt, thus satisfying the NPPF policy test”.

And now we have another example of O’Toolery otoolery at its finest “Cllr David O’Toole; Reason(s) for referral to Planning Committee: Possible green belt issues. Impact on highway and street scene “SIGHT” [sic] VISIT prior to committee” and he’s not a ward councillor for these proposals!

A local resident writes “This is a classic example of delay and incompetence at all levels. This site is indeed in the Green Belt but is indisputably a brown field site and as such under NPPF and subsequent guidelines should be developed before any Green Field candidates.The former agriculture buildings are now no longer in use and indeed have been vacant for many years, Ian Grant is right to call it a carbuncle.

“When it was initially offered for sale, to enable a farming family to distribute funds on retirement, the first response to informal inquiries was that the Planning dept. was “minded to refuse ” a planning application for new houses. This, from a planning authority which as a result of it’s own incompetence was/is consistently failing to keep up with new build targets.

“So O’Toole is apparently failing to use any common sense and would seem to be on a mission to delay the perfectly reasonable application on spurious grounds with the inevitable consequences that the Local Plan build target which is under extreme pressure will continue to fall short. Cue more Plan B Green field destruction.

“Impact on highway”? He is very happy to go along with 400 new builds at Parrs Lane where the “Impact on Highway ” has apparently never troubled him.

“An almost identical situation arose at the Robbins Bridge/Aughton Chase site where it has taken literally years for the planners to finally agree to this other Brown field site to be built on. At one stage “Loss of visual amenity ” (yes really) was given for refusal. You couldn’t make it up”.


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