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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.