Councillors defer decision on 2 planning applications for site visits and approve 7 others
I’m going to try to return to brief reports on public meetings of Wirral Council starting with the Planning Committee meeting held on the 20th April 2016 starting at 6.01pm in Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED. Timings next to agenda items are for the two video clips of the meeting.
The Chair, Cllr Bernie Mooney asked an officer to introduce the planning application. He explained what it was for, why the officers had recommended it for approval and the officer’s response to the objections raised (which were mainly highway safety issues). He said that although it had a value as an open space, it was not designated as a green space or open to the public.
The lead petitioner introduced herself as Helen O’Donnell and explained why a hundred and forty-nine people had signed a petition objecting to the planning application. The first area of concern was safe access into and out of the housing estate, the petitioners felt that leaving this land open had been integral to the design of the original RAF estate. The petitioners felt that building here would lead to a loss of sight lines and a reduction in highway safety. Concerns were also raised about what would happen to the laybys which the petitioners felt were needed for a free flow of traffic. Helen O’Donnell also wanted the green rural route protected by the Planning Committee not approving the planning application.
The applicant, who introduced herself as Mrs. Glynn said that she hadn’t seen the photos circulated by Helen O’Donnell. She pointed out that the planning officers had recommended it for approval and that the proposed buildings were single storey and of a low density. She felt that everything had been done to meet the objector’s needs and repeated that it was recommended for approval by the planning department.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said he would like to hear from councillors who had been on the site visit. The Chair said that she had been on the site visit and that she couldn’t see what difference four households would make to access. Cllr Wendy Clements asked where the dwellings would be and asked for a response from the officers about the speed of traffic.
Matthew Rushton referred to an extra condition on the late list and that the greenery on the other side of the roundabout was maintained as public open space. An officer responded on highways safety grounds that there had been no accidents there over the last five years.
Cllr Eddie Boult said that he couldn’t see a problem with traffic on the site visit and that he found the photo circulated by the petitioners misleading as it was of a different area.
Cllr Geoffrey Watt said that he had also been on the site visit. Although he would be sad to see the loss of openness, there were still some green spaces left and he couldn’t think of a good planning reason for rejecting the planning application. He asked if a condition could be added to restrict the buildings to a single storey?
Cllr David Elderton pointed out that the photos weren’t of the site and that the police enforced the speed limit on this stretch of road, he agreed with Cllr Watt that it was nice to see urban green space, but again he couldn’t see any reasons for objecting to it.
Cllr Stuart Kelly agreed with what was said about traffic and pointed out that in the report it stated that it wasn’t designated as urban green space, however in the open space assessment it had been designated as open space (although officers had advised him this was in error). He referred to paragraphs seventy-four and seventy-seven of the National Planning Policy Framework and policy HS4. Cllr Kelly didn’t feel there were grounds to refuse it on highway safety grounds. He referred to a covenant on the land stating it was for grazing purposes.
The Chair thanked Cllr Kelly for his contribution. Cllr Foulkes said that when he had first joined the Council [in 1990], he had been on the Unitary Development Plan Working Party, but nobody had lobbied them then to make this land green space. He recognised that local people believed it was green space, but that the developer had set aside part of the land as an amenity space, he said he would struggle to support refusal if Cllr Kelly moved it. He felt that the extra car movements from four bungalows was insignificant and that he welcomed the comments from people who’d been on the site visit and pointed out that the photo was of somewhere else.
Matthew Davies said that it was designated in the Unitary Development Plan as a primary residential area. He referred to the criteria for a green space designation under the National Planning Policy Framework and said it couldn’t be described as beautiful and that it didn’t have historic or recreational value. If the planning application was refused on these grounds he thought that they would struggle to defend the decision at appeal.
Cllr Wendy Clements said she had looked at the map online and it was designated as urban green space.
Matthew Davies said that they had had a piece of work undertaken as part of the core strategy as to where the open spaces were. The consultant had picked this site, whereas Wirral Council had meant the consultant instead to include the site maintained by the parks and recreation department on the other side of the roundabout.
Cllr Watt asked again about a condition limiting the bungalows to a single storey. Matthew Davies replied that there could be a condition added restricted it to a single storey.
Cllr Denise Realey proposed approval (with the extra condition), Cllr Irene Williams seconded this. Eight councillors voted in favour. Three (Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Geoffrey Watt and Cllr Paul Hayes) voted against. One councillor abstained, so the application was approved.
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