Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 26th September 2013 APP/13/00748: Amenity Open Space, Tollemache Road, Birkenhead – Erection of 12no two bedroom single storey dwellings
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Continues from Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 26th September 2013 APP/13/00866: 151 Victoria Road, New Brighton, CH45 9LB – Change of use of a property from a single residence to a house of multiple occupation to provide 12 bedrooms with communal kitchen, living rooms and bathrooms. Also to include alterations to windows to the front elevation.
The officer introduced the report for this item and said it was a vacant greenfield site that was there to give an area of land as amenity open space for the new development. The objections received were about the loss of the open space. The applicant contended that the amenity open space was surplus to requirements, but the local planning authority (Wirral Council) contended that it had value.
The officers had assessed the proposed development and had no problems with it except for the policy issue about the loss of the amenity open space. Included in the late list was further information, the applicant had offered a sum of £40,000 to be spent on the adjacent play area, but the officers were still recommending refusal.
The Chair asked if a ward councillor wanted to talk to the Planning Committee?
Cllr Ann McLachlan said that any plans for the open green space would cause tension with the local residents, but that the plans were for low-cost affordable housing. In respect of the views of the local residents there were six key objectors, however she understood their concerns, but their fears had been allayed and assurances given. She wanted to speak in favour of the application for a dozen two bedroom bungalows. Although a provider had not yet been identified, this could be secured through a condition or a s.106 agreement.
Cllr McLachlan said that the properties would be “a drop in the ocean” but a welcome development. She had concerns about the benefit reforms as people were “crying out for two bedroom” properties. The local area to the site was residential and it would be on an amenity piece of green space. It’s use was for informal play and it did have some community use, however it was quite overgrown. There had been some dog owners pulling up in cars allowing their dogs to foul this piece of grass and in her view approving the application would deal with a number of the current problems. The applicant had offered £40,000 (subject to the plans being approved) to be spent on the adjacent play area and for these reasons she supported the application.
Cllr Wendy Clements asked a question about the affordable housing requirement. Matthew Davies responded by saying that if the application was approved it would be subject to a s.106 agreement for affordable housing. There would also be a commuted sum to upgrade the existing play facilities and a condition for highway improvements if councillors decided to approve it in addition to a number of other conditions.
Cllr Brian Kenny said he had read the paperwork and listed to the discussion. In his view a dozen two bedroom bungalows satisfied a demand for affordable housing. He accepted the officer’s view that it needed a s.106 agreement and thought it would fit well with the area. Cllr Kenny referred to antisocial behaviour issues raised by the local councillors and was heartened that the applicant had suggested giving £40,000 to upgrade the adjacent play area. He said that if you believe everything you read in the press that the Cabinet Member for Housing (Cllr George Davies) was keen. Cllr Kenny was in favour of approving the application.
Matthew Davies said they would need to give a reason why they were approving it contrary to the normal policies and that this needed to come from the Planning Committee. He explained that if approved, extra conditions that would need be attached to the approval including a site waste management plan.
Cllr Paul Hayes said he accepted the need for affordable housing, but didn’t buy into the argument that it was needed because of antisocial behaviour and dog fouling. In his view those sorts of issues would only be dealt with through tougher enforcement.
The Chair, Cllr Bernie Mooney, referred to the extra money for the play area, the extra money for upgrading the highway and the extra £1,500 for the school crossing patrol. She asked the Planning Committee if they were happy?
Cllr Stuart Kelly was not happy. He accepted that affordable housing was important, but in his view the need to build more houses shouldn’t mean they should lose green space sites. Cllr Kelly said the site was used for informal play and that they had to get the balance right between building houses they knew they needed and providing people with space for children to play, he was not happy with building houses on a piece of green land, as there was lots of overgrown green land and it would set a precedent for further applications for housing on green space.
Cllr Kelly said that it had been set aside as part of the original planning application and put there for a reason, he was not willing to set aside policies as in his view they needed the amenity space as much as they needed affordable housing. He said that they had a policy which said they should have this sort of amenity put in place and he felt that backing out sent out a poor message as he felt developers should build on brownfield sites rather than a site used for informal play.
Cllr Denise Realey asked if the site had been identified for housing under the Strategic Housing Assessment? The officer said it hadn’t.
Cllr Brian Kenny said that he wanted to move approval of the application on the grounds that it would provide affordable housing that there was a demand for. He said it fitted well with the character of the area and removed a number of current problems. Cllr Kenny said it was important they approved it and the applicant had agreed to invest £40,000 in the adjacent play area. He moved approval. Cllr Joe Walsh seconded approval.
Cllr Kelly moved an amendment to the proposal to approve, that it would be refused for the reasons given in the officer’s report. Rosemary Lyons (legal adviser) advised the Chair not to accept the amendment as in her view it wasn’t amending the proposal to accept the planning application. She said that Cllr Kelly could vote against the proposal to approve the application.
The Chair took a vote on the motion to approve the planning application.
For (9): Cllr Denise Realey, Cllr Anita Leech, Cllr David Elderton, Cllr Bernie Mooney, Cllr Irene Williams, Cllr Christina Muspratt, Cllr Brian Kenny, Cllr Joe Walsh and Cllr Eddie Boult
Against (4): Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Simon Mountney, Cllr Wendy Clements and Cllr Paul Hayes
The application was therefore approved.
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