Planning Committee site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road, Noctorum

A report on the Planning Committee’s site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road on the 18th October 2010

Planning Committee site visit to land adjacent to 290 Upton Road, Noctorum


I went on the site visit today. What is a site visit you may ask? A site visit by the Planning Committee is when the Planning Committee and officers go to a visit a site that relates to a planning permission application that the Planning Committee will decide on in the future.

In this particular case which you can read about in the report to Thursday’s Planning Committee here it was only a minor change to an existing application.

The history of it is as follows. A revised planning application had been submitted to change the existing planning permission for a new building. The application was for a minor change and would’ve been decided by Wirral Council planning officers except that ward councillor Cllr Harry Smith had asked the Planning Committee to decide it instead.

He had taken it out of delegated decision-making and so it went to be decided by the Planning Committee on the 28th September 2010. At that meeting another Labour councillor on the Planning Committee had requested that the decision was deferred in order that the Planning Committee could carry out a site visit to it.

The relevant section of the Planning Committee Code of Conduct covers this:-

“5. Committee Site Inspections

5.1 Site visits can cause delay and additional costs and should only be used where the expected benefit is substantial. A decision by the Planning Committee to carry out a site inspection should normally only take place when:

  • there is considerable local concern about a proposal, allied to planning reasons for carrying out the visit (eg. the physical relationship of the site to other sites in the neighbourhood); or
  • if the impact of the proposed development is difficult to visualise from the plans and any supporting material; or
  • the proposal is particularly contentious; or
  • the proposal is contrary to a specific policy or raises wider policy issues.

5.2 Where it is intended to inspect the site and hear the applicants and the objectors it is essential that extremely careful arrangements are made to ensure that both parties are treated fairly and equitably and that the appropriate standards of propriety are seen to be upheld. Accordingly, the procedural rules annexed here to must be observed at all times in the holding of all site inspections.”

Anybody is allowed on a site visit (as it’s classed as a public meeting of the Planning Committee) and it often gives those for or against a proposal a good opportunity to state their views and give the Planning Committee an idea about how members of the public feel about a proposal.

The residents at next door 292 Upton Road were objecting on the basis of:-

a) overlooking and
b) traffic issues.

On the first matter, as far as I could tell looking at their property, there was a small window on the side which would have faced the new house. Leonora and I arrived early for the site visit and one of the parked cars in the turning circle that the Planning Committee was one the objectors had got out of before the Planning Committee arrived.

It was also pointed out by Wirral Council officers that the new property’s drive wouldn’t have very much of an effect on 292 Upton Road as the occupiers of the new house would exit through the drive of 290 Upton Road. What I didn’t appreciate was Cllr Harry Smith telling me to “Clear off” and telling me I had “no right to be there” when I was standing on the public pavement. I have (unfortunately) come to expect this kind of lack of respect from my local Labour councillor who in the previous year was suspended for a week as a local councillor for a similar outburst of rudeness. I have as much right to be standing on a pavement and to attend a site visit as he does or anybody else.

As usual comments invited and welcome.

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290 Upton Rd, Birkenhead, Prenton, Merseyside CH43 9RN, UK

Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.