It’s one of those days when you wonder if the world has gone mad, or is it just in West Lancashire? WLBC Press Release “On 16 August, a Borough Council planning enforcement officer responded to a complaint that the car park at the Co-op store 52 Wigan Road, Ormskirk was being used for all day parking in breach of the planning permission for the site.
The planning permission for the site stipulates that the car park is available to the public and is not restricted to use by Co-operative food customers. The car park is also subject to a maximum duration of stay of 30 minutes with no return within 1 hour.
The officer established that a private parking contractor had been employed by Co-op to monitor the parking at the site and ‘all day parking’ was being advertised within the store by the contractor for a fee. Co-op representatives immediately withdrew the advertisements from the store and ensured that the planning restrictions on the use of the car park were complied with.
No further action was taken by the Council.’
Now, contrast that WLBC enforcement activity to the breach in planning permission, that of the Beacon Park Golf Course, on 29 January 2017 I asked Mr J Nelson West Lancashire Borough Council “I am writing to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for undisputed proof of compliance with the m3 planning condition relating to application 2011/0787/FUL, although the time limit allowed under FoI for reply in this instance ought not to be applied as the information will be recorded.
“On 21 August 2015 you stated by email “One of the issues raised by Mr Newman (member of the Golf Members Club) was the height of the mounds of soil , the planning officer was unable to make any judgement on the final levels until the ‘Shapers’ for the golf course have completed the work to bring the mounds of top soil (which had been moved to one side at the start of the works) back over the infill material”.
On 9 November 2015 you stated by email “The total volume expected on site for all 4 phases was 187,000m3 the amount anticipated for the 9 hole course was 65,000m3. I have been informed that royalties payment up to this limit have not yet been reached, however the Leisure Trust are expecting further royalties payment which will take it close to this figure for this element of the phased work. An amount of 35,000m3 has been assessed for the work to the driving range” .
The implications by visual appearance for the 9Hole course and the driving range/footgolf developments even to a layman are far in excess of the stated m3 and then added to on the entire length of the first fairway to the first green.
In speaking to golf members we have concluded that a process of assessment of the allowed m3 by a “planning officer making a judgement” of what are now final seeded levels is an unsatisfactory method of confirmation that the developers have complied with the planning permitted m3. Would you therefore be kind enough to agree that proof of the total m3 on the landfill development is best served preferably by use of an independent professional quantity survey and will you arrange for this?
The reply “I can advise that the information you have requested is not available. The reason for this is that the Council does not hold any written or recorded information in relation to your FOI request. I am therefore unable to provide you with any of the documentation requested”.
I replied “Thank you for this reply. It surprises me that your own work related diary does not include any of the details I have requested. It is best that we do not waste two months in considering having an internal review, so in copying this to Mr Tilleray I am formally requesting that review of FoI Reference Number 2017/112 to include any and all matters raised by it”.
The outcome was “Having reviewed all of the information provided to you, (and I hope that the abovementioned clarification has been helpful in this regard), I am satisfied that the Council’s obligations have been met, as per the requirements of the Act”. Otherwise known as a bugger off response!