Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 16, 2018

Serco Beacon Park 9Hole Golf Course Shambles Laid Bare

Today we report once again on the abysmal performance of Serco Ltd and Serco Leisure Operating Ltd for what might be described loosely as their “management of developments”, also known as landfill dumping for private profit, on the Beacon Park Golf Course, which can only reflect badly on West Lancashire Borough Council. This report relates to the 9hole “Junior Academy” pie in the sky landfill royalty scandal.

A company, Aardvark EM Ltd  has been employed to submit a “Supporting statement to the S73A application for the variation of Condition 1 of Planning App. Ref.2016/0040/FUL (Superseding Permission 2011/9787/FUL). To vary the location, site and cross section plans submitted with the original application to regularise the as built land levels, landscaping and development layout of the nine hole short course.

They state “West Lancashire Borough Council as the Local Planning authority (LPA) has recently re-assessed the development that has taken place at Beacon Park Golf Centre following the completion of importation of material to the site to complete part of the works approved under planning permission 2016/0040/FUL (which supersedes permission 2011/0787/FUL). As a result, the LPA considers that several breaches of planning controls exist on the site including the placement of approx. 16,000 additional cubic metres of material  on the 9 hole golf course resulting in land levels which exceed those shown on the approved plans listed under Condition 1 of planning permission 2016/0040/FUL (Plans 1115.11 & 1115.15). [NB I received this response under Freedom of Information Act. “Thank you for your email of 26th July 2017 in which you made the following request for information; a) confirm by independent professional assessment that the existing uncompleted 9Hole short course referred to does not exceed the permitted 168mAOD (average height) of all its mounds and ridges and b) will West Lancashire Borough Council disclose the latest expected date for the 9Hole short course completion and use by the public?” and “In response, I can confirm that a survey of the site has confirmed that the mounds and ridges of the 9 hole short hole course does not exceed 168m AOD. Weather permitting, the plan is still to open in spring / summer 2018, but as it involves the grass growing and being appropriately treated and conditioned this could change. The Council will endeavour to keep everyone informed of any changes, should there be any”. Yours sincerely, John Harrison DipEnvP, MRTPI”]

“This statement undertakes a review of the environmental considerations and potential effects of the development from the change in land levels to help inform the LPA’s determination of the application. The change in land levels still fulfils the principle of the original scheme as consented such that the golf course continues to provide a facility of outdoor sport and recreational value to the community and the regularising the development will ensure the retention of its existing value to the benefit of the community.

“The following relevant planning history references the whole of Beacon Park Golf Centre as the creation of the short nine hole course formed part of a wider remodelling scheme that was the basis of the 2011 and 2016 applications; • 2016/0040/FUL GRANTED – Variation of Condition No.7 imposed on planning permission 2011/0787/FUL to read: ‘The development shall take place in accordance with the Coal Mining Risk Assessment Addendum Report produced by WSP dated November 2015’. • 2011/0787/FUL GRANTED – Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course. • 2011/0051/SCR NOT EIA DEVELOPMENT – Screening Opinion – Improvements to golf and country club including remodelling of 5th, 6th, 13th and 14th holes and formation of junior academy practice course”.

“Officers advised that the variations to the 9-hole could be dealt with as a s73A minor amendment if that is to be submitted separately and a validation checklist detailing the information that will be required to validate the application was provided. The opportunity has been taken in this S.73 application to reconsider the drainage strategy of the site, there are clear issues with drainage in relation to the stand of trees in an area that collects water resulting in water-logging in addition to rutting on the slope leading up from the 1st tee  and the clubhouse. Proposals seeking to address these concerns and proposed remedial works are detailed within the drainage strategy assessment submitted with this application.

“The environmental effects of the proposed scheme from the change in levels will be similar if not improved in nature to the consented scheme 2016/0040/FUL as previously assessed by the determining authority and consultees as being acceptable. Once the measures to minimise effects are put in place, there will be no significant impacts likely to result. This application therefore seeks to clarify that in changing the finished as built land levels, there would be no net increase in environmental impact arising from the creation of a Par 3 nine hole golf course”.

Mr Soames CEO states in his company Strategic Report “Serco has deep expertise: overlaid on our private sector techniques, drive and energy is a public service ethos that means that we can help deliver government services efficiently, but in a way that recognises the need for public accountability and trust”…but not, apparently, the need for public accountability of the landfill royalties Serco has accrued from the Beacon Park Golf Course.

We can only hope that this application is brought before the WLBC Planning Committee and receives the full, called-in examination the Beacon Park Golf Course leisure facility deserves, and that Serco Leisure Operating Ltd is barred from any involvement in the further mis-management of the facility.

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