Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd August 2013 APP/13/00842: Corbiere, Thorsway, Caldy, CH48 2JJ – Demolition of existing house and erection of new dwelling within a similar footprint

A report on the Planning Committee meeting of Wirral Council on the 22nd August 2013 about planning application APP/13/00842: Corbiere, Thorsway, Caldy, CH48 2JJ – Demolition of existing house and erection of new dwelling within a similar footprint

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After the decision on the Tesco in Wallasey Village was made, the Planning Committee went on to consider an application for Corbiere in Thorsway, Caldy.

The officer said that Cllr Jeff Green had requested the decision be made by the Planning Committee (and not by officers) and that there was a qualifying petition of twenty-nine against it as well as five letters of objection. The application was in a conservation area and was for a two storey house. The officer said that the property had not been occupied for the last two years and that the application was recommended for approval.

The petitioner, David James said he lived next to Corbiere and that he was a member of the Caldy Society and spoke with their full support. He asked why they would agree to demolish part of Caldy’s heritage that fitted perfectly in the conservation area? The petitioner said that the current building could be economically restored. Mr. James said that the footprint of the new building would be greater than the footprint of the original house and that it looked like a “huge office block” and would be a “carbuncle”.

The applicant handed out handouts to the Planning Committee and introduced himself as Stuart Wilson, of 10 The Willow, Lea Park, Meols Drive, Hoylake, Wirral. He said that they had spent eight months discussing the application with planning officers and that Conservation Area officers past and present had said they had worked within the guidelines.

The property was an unoccupied family home, which they had bought in a dilapidated state, it was dangerous in certain parts due to a bodged extension. He felt that its character had been lost beyond economic redemption. Part of the building would be underground which increased the cost and he disputed claims about loss of privacy due to the balcony. The balcony he explained was a service balcony and the windows referred to would be made of opaque glass.

Cllr Watt was next to address the Planning Committee. He said that in the press that Thorsway was one of the highest priced roads in Merseyside and one of the highest points in the Caldy Conservation Area. Although much of the application would be hidden behind screening, he asked the Planning Committee to ask to see the artist’s impression of the new building. Cllr Watt referred to the concerns of the petitioners and asked the Planning Committee to find reasons to refuse the application.

Cllr Elderton asked if they needed permission in a conservation area to demolish and how much influence the Conservation Area officer had had on the application? Cllr Moutney asked for the plans to be displayed.

Matthew Davies replied that there was a conservation area consent application for demolition of the existing building, but it wouldn’t be granted unless there was an acceptable scheme for a replacement dwelling. Therefore it wouldn’t be decided until the application was decided. If the application was approved, then consent for demolition would be granted.

In terms of the input that Conservation Area officers had had, it had been subject to considerable pre-application advice and advice from the urban design officer.

Cllr Elderton said he’d like to see the elevations and artist’s impressions to compare with the previous design. Matthew Davies showed the footprints of the existing building as well as replacement. He also showed the elevations and artists impressions.

Cllr Elderton described it as a out of character for the conservation area and a “1930s office block”. He thought it was unsuitable and wanted to move refusal. Cllr Hayes asked why the conditions only required the trees to stay in place for one year and whether it could be extended?

Matthew Davies replied that they were trying to retain the existing vegetation, but that condition 18 required a full landscaping scheme to be submitted which would detail any replacement trees. Condition 17 sought to retain the existing vegetation while new vegetation was planted.

Cllr Elderton moved refusal of the application on the basis that it was contrary to policy CH11. This was seconded by Cllr Eddie Boult.

The following councillors voted for refusal, Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Les Rowlands, Cllr Simon Moutney, Cllr Paul Hayes, Cllr Eddie Boult, Cllr David Elderton and Cllr Irene Williams (7)
Labour councillors (apart from Cllr Irene Williams) voted against (6)

The application was therefore refused.

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd August 2013 refuses plan for Tesco in Wallasey Village

A report on what happened at the Planning Committee meeting of Wirral Council on the 22nd August 2013 involving a planning application for a Tesco in Wallasey Village.

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This blog post continues from the previous one entitled Planning Committee refuses plan for Tesco in Wallasey Village. The video for this part of the Planning Committee can be viewed above.

Cllr Paul Hayes asked questions about the percentage for parking in the report and why there was no transport statement. An officer answered that the reason there was no transport statement was because the applicant had included details of parking and servicing. In his opinion its location on a primary route would not generate a significant volume of traffic as people in vehicles already using the road would nip in to do some shopping.

Cllr Kelly said that he had looked at the Unitary Development Plan map and that the proposal was on the edge of the commercial area where a finger came out to take in the development on the shop. One two sides it was residential properties as well as a school and a public house. One the site visit he had noticed sheltered housing to the rear. The servicing arrangements were next to the houses, in his opinion there would be deliveries first thing in the morning at 7am and throughout the day. The distance between the site and these houses was only five metres.

He also had concerns about waste disposal and storage. There had been an extra condition around plans for waste disposal on the late list but in his opinion this should’ve been included with the application. Cllr Kelly was not happy with the lack of clarity about waste disposal. Looking at the plans for how lorries would enter and leave the delivery area, he felt that cars parked would have to be moved in order for this to be done safely. It would be difficult to find the shoppers who owned the cars, therefore in his view it was unsatisfactory. The effect on the residential area was also unsatisfactory.

Cllr Pat Glasman said that it was on an extremely busy road and due to the school parents parked in silly places. In her view there would be a detrimental effect on traffic. In her view the orientation of the building should be changed to reduce the effect on residential properties.

Cllr Hayes asked how the applicant had demonstrated there would be no overspill parking? He said on the day of the site visit, there were only fifteen there but the school had not been open due to the holidays. The officer said that in his view they would struggle to defend a refusal on highway safety grounds.

Cllr Leech asked if the delivery times could be restricted by a condition. An officer said they could.

Cllr Kelly referred to policy SPD4. Cllr Paul Hayes moved refusal on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the amenities that residents of nearby residential properties could reasonably expect to enjoy, that is was contrary to policy SPD6 and that the parking standards in SPD4 hadn’t been met.

Matthew Davies said that the reason could be sustained at appeal, but they would have to word it carefully.

Cllr Kelly said he would second it, with a reference to the National Planning Policy Framework. Matthew Davies suggested a form of words for refusal on the second reason. Cllr Kelly asked if it was SH4 or SH6 it was contrary to? The Chair answered SH6. It was put to the vote.

In favour of refusal: (11) Cllr Bernie Mooney, Cllr David Elderton, Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Philip Brightmore, Cllr Anita Leech, Cllr Irene Williams, Cllr Eddie Boult, Cllr Paul Hayes, Cllr Simon Mountney, Cllr Patricia Glasman and Cllr Les Rowlands
Against refusal: Cllr Joe Walsh and Cllr Denise Realey (2)

The application was therefore refused.

Continues at Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd August 2013 APP/13/00842: Corbiere, Thorsway, Caldy, CH48 2JJ – Demolition of existing house and erection of new dwelling within a similar footprint.

Planning Committee refuses plan for Tesco in Wallasey Village

A report on Wirral Council’s Planning Committee meeting of the 22nd August 2013 and its decision to turn down an application to build a Tesco in Wallasey Village. APP/13/00629 Classic Cars Of Wirral Ltd CH45 3LP

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Unusually I got to film the Planning Committee meeting. The first planning application was the controversial application for a Tesco in Wallasey Village (the officer’s report can be read here and here is a link that takes you straight to the start of that item in the video I took of it.

The officer introduced the item by saying a decision on the application was deferred on the 25th July for a site visit. She explained the planning history and the reasons why the officers were recommending it for approval. There was a petition objecting to it signed by over 1,200 people.

The lead petitioner gave his name as Lee Kendall and said that he was the principal transport planner at SCP (a transport consultancy based in Manchester). He referred to a technical report SCP had submitted and how they felt the level of parking was inaccurately described in the officer’s report and below the levels they’d expect. The lack of parking would lead to overspill parking in the nearby streets which in his opinion was contrary to policies SH6 and TR9.

Using an industry standard database they had estimated that the traffic would exceed the spaces in the car park leading to overspill parking which would have an impact on traffic flow and road safety. He also felt that the application should have included a proper transport statement. Mr Kendall also said that the amenities of local residents would be affected by noise during unsocial hours.

The main road it was on already had a poor road safety record and he listed the different types of accident recorded over the last seven years. Although a puffin crossing was a condition, with a school situated opposite the site there was the concern that there was the potential for an accident involving a child crossing the road by not using the crossing. In his view overspill parking would also increase the likelihood of an accident involving a child.

The first floor was only accessible via a stairwell, so he felt that this meant the application wouldn’t comply with part M of the building regulations, Disability Discrimination Acts and the Equality Act 2010. Although this was not a material planning consideration he asked why would they approve a scheme that would breach building regulations? He urged the committee to refuse the application.

Matthew Brooke (of Edgeplan, the Manchester based agents) replied on behalf of the applicant Alfa Trustees. He referred to the officer’s recommendation to approve the application and that it was an underused site. Mr Brooke said that a superstore would create jobs for local people and was a substantial change from the earlier refused proposal.

There were a lot of highways related conditions from the puffin crossing and officers could go further and put in yellow lines. He felt that the scale of development was correct but they were aware of traffic accidents in Wallasey Village. Mr Brooke said that the first floor of the store would not be accessible to the public and used for staff use only. He finished by asking the Planning Committee to approve the application.

A ward councillor, Cllr Leah Fraser also addressed the Planning Committee. She started by saying that she had asked officers for a copy of the traffic survey, but she’d been told over the phone that a survey hadn’t been done. Therefore Cllr Fraser felt the officer’s assertions in the report weren’t backed up by evidence. She’d asked how the estimated traffic level figure was arrived at. Cllr Fraser had been told that the figure was calculated using the proposed floor area.

In her opinion if parking would be contained solely in the car park she estimated that each customer would have to park, shop, pay and leave within ten minutes. This wasn’t likely to happen so overspill parking in the surrounding streets would result due to the under provision of car parking. She said a figure of twenty full-time staff had been given and that the parking needs of staff would further exacerbate the parking issue. As an example of this she said that at the site visit one of the Planning Committee had had to park on double yellow lines and there had only been fifteen on the site visit.

Cllr Fraser said that the overspill parking would affect the residents in sheltered accommodation at Granville Court as there were regular visitors and ambulances going to and from there. Customers would also park outside the nearby residential properties and the residents would see a decrease in the amenities they’d come to reasonably expect to enjoy.

She asked how the new store would employ disabled staff if the first floor was inaccessible for disabled people? Residents were also concerned about the noise of deliveries and air conditioning. The previous use of the site in her opinion had been an important buffer between commercial premises, however she didn’t consider a Tesco as a buffer.

Further concerns of hers were that there would be overlooking from nearby flats of the service area and deliveries from 7 am in the morning. Although a new store might create new jobs, Cllr Fraser felt jobs would be lost as some remaining shops would end up closing. She referred to the over a thousand people who had signed a petition against despite it being widely publicised. Cllr Fraser was amazed that the report did not include the results of a traffic survey and referred to the estimated vehicle movements and the “tremendous opposition” to the proposal. She asked the Planning Committee to refuse it on the grounds that it was contrary to policy SH6 and that the impact of vehicles and footfall had not been assessed.

The Chair invited the Planning Committee to discuss the application.

Continues at Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd August 2013 refuses plan for Tesco in Wallasey Village.

EXCLUSIVE: Million pound contract between Wirral Council and Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd for ISUS scheme was never signed

A blog post about the unsigned contract between Wirral Council and Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd for the ISUS (Intensive Startup Support) Scheme

Million pound contract between Wirral Council and Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd for ISUS scheme was never signed


ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 1
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 2
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ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 5
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 6
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ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 9
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 10
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 11
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 12
ISUS Contract Enterprise Solutions (NW Ltd) Page 13

In my previous post on a Freedom of Information Act request I made to Wirral Council I stated that it would be one of a series of blog posts on interrelated topics, this is the second on audit rights.

Each year (this year it was from 15th July to the 9th August as you can read from this notice published on Wirral Council’s website), anybody can inspect the accounts for Wirral Council for the previous financial year and any books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts. This is a right the public have enshrined in legislation. If this person is also someone who can vote in the Wirral area they also have a right to make objections to the auditor (which in Wirral Council’s case is Grant Thornton UK LLP (previously it was the Audit Commission)).

One of the areas I was interested in is to do with Nigel Hobro’s question to Cllr Phil Davies at the last Council meeting and the Grant Thornton report into the Business Investment Grants program. The end of Cllr Phil Davies’ answer to Mr. Hobro was “Errm however if it turns out that err others have been affected similarly since the report came to us I’m happy to ensure they’re properly investigated and indeed if there are any further evidence of wrongdoing or the irregularities of accountancy methods brought to my attention, then errm I am errm willing and indeed I make a commitment to refer those to others.”

On the 17th July I requested the following (using the above audit rights) “I’d also be interested to see and have a copy of any contract Wirral Council has with Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd” and on Tuesday afternoon (20th August) I was invited along to receive it (I’ve since scanned in and links to all of it are at the start of this blog post). It is for the ISUS (Intensive Startup Scheme) side of the business grants program and covers “awareness and development workshops”, monitoring the businesses that receive grants for three years after they receive grants at at least ten points over that three years and for “provision of specialist post start and aftercare adviser support”. Basically all pretty important things for Wirral Council to prove value for money for the taxpayer for these grants.

The contract states just under a million pounds of taxpayer’s money is involved and as a lot of records would rest with Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd requires them to supply information to do with the project including invoices, certificates, vouchers, books and records if required as well as keeping copies of documentation (and make them available for inspection) for seven years after the grants are awarded.

Section seventeen of the contract allows Wirral Council to vary the amount of grant payable, suspend payment of grant, withhold payment of grant or require Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd to repay some or all of the grant if the terms and conditions are breached at any time before three years after Wirral Council has last paid them the grant. It also requires Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd to if required to pay back money to Wirral Council to do so within fourteen days, otherwise interest at 3% above the base lending rate of NATWEST Bank plc will be charged.

However the most interesting bit of the contract is page ten. It’s not signed by Wirral Council or Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd. However invoices from Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd were paid and according to this Freedom of Information Act request Wirral Council also used Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd to produce business plans for organisations wanting to take over Council assets as part of the Community Asset Transfer program (in the request’s case New Brighton Community Centre).

In that FOI request the Council admits “there was no contract with Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd” and the fact that the one drafted between Wirral Council and Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd for the ISUS project (which according to the copy I’ve been given wasn’t signed by either party) how can Wirral Council prove it got value for money both to the public (and its auditor)?

Isn’t actually getting a signed contract in place, before you make any payments the kind of basic good governance that Wirral residents should expect from Wirral Council?

Is Cllr Davies’ commitment if he knows of “further wrongdoing” or “irregularities of accountancy methods” to “refer these to others” going to help matters? Referring the whistleblower’s concerns to Grant Thornton and Merseyside Police allowed Wirral Council to draw a veil over the matter and claim exemptions to legitimate questions asked by the public through Freedom of Information Act requests. Councillor Phil Davies is the Cabinet Member for Finance, he’s the elected politician at Wirral Council with democratic accountability to the public for financial matters. I clearly remember Cllr Davies saying last year that when he became leader that there would be more openness and transparency, not less.

Unless politicians (of all political persuasions) are willing to persistently ask difficult questions of senior officers at Wirral Council and put them on the spot during public meetings, instead preferring to be seen to be doing something by requesting reports (there’s the recent example of the case of the Grant Thornton report into the BIG scheme which was never published in full) I fear that all the talk about improved corporate governance and glowing peer reviews at Wirral Council won’t be believed by the public.

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd August 2013 Planning Applications affecting Bidston and St. James ward

A report on recent planning applications decided affecting Bidston and St. James ward and upcoming decisions on planning applications by Wirral Council’s Planning Committee affecting Bidston and St. James ward | 330B St Anne Street | Verosa, 122 Eleanor Road | Rosemead Residential Home 49-51 School Lane | Keepmoat | Cosy Cats Cattery Limited, 2 Lymm Road

cat Firstly a brief update on planning applications decided by Wirral Council officers affecting Bidston & St. James ward from 1st July 2013 to 11th August 2013.

The first is an application type I haven’t seen before called “Planning Pre-Application Enquiry”. Rather confusingly the decision is down as “pre-application reply” (and as it’s not classed as a planning application searching on Wirral Council’s website doesn’t bring up a decision either), but I presume if the applicant gets a positive response indicating that a planning application would be accepted then they’ll then go on to submit a planning application.

Application No.: PRE/13/00078/ENQ Application Type: Planning Pre-Application Enquiry
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 16/07/2013 Decision: Pre-Application Reply
Case Officer: Mrs S Day
Applicant: Mr Carl Haskalyne Agent:
Proposal: Change of use from vacant offices to 2 flats (self contained)

The second (approved) is for a conservatory in Eleanor Road. As usual you can click on the planning application number for further details on Wirral Council’s website.

Application No.: APP/13/00510 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 16/07/2013 Decision: Approve
Case Officer: Mr S Williamson
Applicant: Mr R Connolly Agent: Mr Colin Medlicott
Location: Verosa, 122 ELEANOR ROAD, BIDSTON, CH43 7QS
Proposal: Conservatory to the side of the building

The third (also approved) is to change Rosemead Residential Home in School Lane back to its former use as residential properties. Again for further details you can click on the planning application number.

Application No.: APP/13/00772 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Decision Level: Delegated
Ward: Bidston and St James
Decision Date: 02/08/2013 Decision: Approve
Case Officer: Mr N Williams
Applicant: Agent:
Location: Rosemead Residential Home, 49-51 SCHOOL LANE, BIDSTON, CH43 7RE
Proposal: Change of use from closed nursing home back to two residential semi-detached dwellings (without internal or external building works)

Unusually there are three planning applications affecting Bidston and St. James ward to be decided by the Planning Committee on Thursday (assuming that the Planning Committee doesn’t decide to go on site visits to them).

The first is Keepmoat’s plan to build 125 houses in the Milner Street/Carrington Street/Rundle Street/Laird Street area. A 20mph zone and traffic calming scheme is included as one of the conditions. Merseyside Police’s architectural liaison officer has concerns that the open nature of the scheme may increase opportunities for crime and makes some recommendations.

The area of this planning application has had houses partly demolished for some time. As tenants living in the area have been moved out and owner occupiers subject to compulsory purchase orders, it’s part of the reason why many of the nearby Laird Street have closed down. I notice also there’s a recommendation for a s.106 agreement with the developer for a very small area of public open space, although with Birkenhead Park, a play area and a games court nearby that’s why it’s smaller than the size of open space you’d expect for 125 houses. A condition (probably as a result of the police’s concerns about crime) also requires security lighting for the open space and the “proposed link to existing footpath”. Hopefully it’ll get approved (as is recommended by officers) and houses will replace the current eyesore of a site that is currently mud and half demolished houses.

The other two planning applications to be decided by the Planning Committee affecting Bidston and St. James ward are related and are both submitted by the alliteratively named Cosy Cats Cattery Limited. They are planning application APP/13/00688 for a cattery comprising of an outbuilding of fifteen small units to house a maximum of twenty cats and an isolation unit and planning application ADV/13/00689 which is for advertisement consent for a fascia sign and hanging sign (for the cattery which is planning application APP/13/00689).

Such minor planning applications would normally be decided by planning officers rather than the Planning Committee, but Cllr Jim Crabtree has removed the application from delegation following one objection to each planning application by the resident of number 2 Eleanor Road.

On the planning application for the signs, the resident objects on the basis of illumination of the signs and confusion as to where the signs will be located. However the report states the signs won’t be illuminated. The report also details where (if approved) the signs will be, one hanging from a post 1.8m high and one on the fence adjacent to the driveway facing east towards the cul-de-sac.

However the main objections from the resident of number two Eleanor Road are in relation to the proposed cattery (eleven separate objections are listed in the report). The report written by planning officers is of the opinion that the objections raised aren’t enough to refuse the application (the officers also dispute the factual accuracy of some of the objections). It’s therefore recommended it for approval, subject to conditions limiting the number of cats to twenty and the hours of operation to between 8 am and 9 pm.