Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service recommend councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority appeal refusal of planning permission for Saughall Massie Fire Station to Planning Inspectorate

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service recommend councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority appeal refusal of planning permission for Saughall Massie Fire Station to Planning Inspectorate

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service recommend councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority appeal refusal of planning permission for Saughall Massie Fire Station to Planning Inspectorate

Planning Committee meeting (Wirral Council) 15th December 2016 councillors voting to refuse planning permission for a fire station at Saughall Massie L to R Cllr Pat Cleary, Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Ian Lewis, Cllr Kathy Hodson, Cllr Eddie Boult, Cllr David Elderton
Planning Committee meeting (Wirral Council) 15th December 2016 councillors voting to refuse planning permission for a fire station at Saughall Massie L to R Cllr Pat Cleary, Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Ian Lewis, Cllr Kathy Hodson, Cllr Eddie Boult, Cllr David Elderton

Last month councillors on Wirral Council’s Planning Committee rejected (by 7 votes in favour of refusal to 6 votes against refusal) a planning application for a fire station in Saughall Massie on land in the greenbelt on land off Saughall Massie Road.

Following the refusal of planning permission (on grounds of impact on residential amenity and on the greenbelt), a recommendation has been made by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (who will meet in public) next Thursday afternoon (26th January 2017) to appeal the refusal of planning permission to the Planning Inspectorate and to submit a revised planning application.

The report to councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority criticises what ward councillor Councillor Chris Blakeley said at the Planning Committee meeting last month. The criticism relates to remarks the councillor made at the meeting about Upton Fire Station being a “fall-back” position, comments about the impact of a new fire station at Saughall Massie would have both on Arrowe Park Hospital and also what Cllr Blakleley stated about response times.

If the recommendation is approved by councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority the costs of producing the documentation for a revised planning application are estimated in the report as “in the region of £56,000” (which would include a detailed lighting impact assessment). The costs of legal advice, preparation and representation for an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate are estimated to cost between £36,500 and £49,000.

The item is the last item on the agenda (item 9) and is expected to be held in public starting at 1.00 pm on the 26th January 2017 in the Liverpool Suite, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Bridle Rd, Bootle, L30 4YD.

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Will a planning appeal over the Saughall Massie fire station fail due to incorrect legal advice to councillors?

Will a planning appeal over the Saughall Massie fire station fail due to incorrect legal advice to councillors?

                                                         

Originally this bundle was going to be published in a different way, but instead it will be published as an exclusive in serial form on this blog.

I’d better start by declaring an interest as the Appellant in First-tier Tribunal case EA/2016/0054, which is about an Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request for the estimates of capital costs involving a new fire station first at Greasby, then at Saughall Massie and the sale of fire stations at Upton and West Kirby.

Despite the bundle being 480 pages in total, there are hundreds of pages missing from it (such as the transcripts of the public meetings involved, communications between the 2nd Respondent (MFRA) and the 1st Respondent (ICO) etc).

Continue reading “Will a planning appeal over the Saughall Massie fire station fail due to incorrect legal advice to councillors?”

Why did Wirral Council spend £534.90 on catering for a meeting with Dong Energy?

Why did Wirral Council spend £534.90 on catering for a meeting with Dong Energy?

                                                                            

It’s no secret that Wirral Council have been trying to persuade businesses to create jobs on the Wirral. Last year Cammell Laird applied for planning permission (planning application APP/14/00352) for "an on shore office, warehouse building and pontoon that will serve as a marine operations and maintenance facility for off shore projects" on a car park in Alabama Way. This was so Cammell Laird could expand to the "green energy" sector such as maintenance for wind turbines such as the Dong Energy wind farm at Burbo Bank.

Below is an invoice from Carrington Catering Ltd paid by Wirral Council for catering at a meeting on the 8th May 2014 with Dong Energy. You can click on the thumbnail for a higher resolution version.

Wirral Council invoice Carringtons Catering Ltd Dong Energy Meeting 8th May 2014 catering £534.90 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Carringtons Catering Ltd Dong Energy Meeting 8th May 2014 catering £534.90 thumbnail

On the 23rd July 2014 it went to be decided by Wirral Council’s Planning Committee (you can watch video footage of the meeting below). The Planning Committee refused the application based on the effect it would have on the flats nearby. That refusal was appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

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Wirral Council’s Planning Committee refuse Cammell Laird’s planning application (APP/14/00352) 23rd July 2014

Cammell Laird (before the planning appeal had been decided) submitted a revised planning application in December 2014 (APP/14/01585). This also went to Planning Committee for a decision and after nearly an hour of discussion it was refused on the 19th February 2015 (see video of the decision below).

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Wirral Council’s Planning Committee refuse Cammell Laird’s planning application (APP/14/01585) 19th February 2014.

Eventually a planning inspector on the 13th October (after informal hearings on the 25th February and the 19th May and site visits on the 18th May and 4th June 2015) issued a 29 page appeal decision overturning the earlier decisions of the Planning Committee.

I’ll point out at this stage that the planning application is in Birkenhead and Tranmere ward (currently represented by Cllr Phil Davies (Labour), Cllr Jean Stapleton (Labour) and Cllr Pat Cleary (Green)).

As detailed in the planning appeal decision, although the plans would have created an estimated sixty to sixty-five jobs, nearby LDRA Ltd had threatened to relocate to Newbury taking fifty local jobs away if the plans for expansion at Cammell Lairds were approved.

So the news reported in the Wirral Globe yesterday that an alternative site has been found at Kings Wharf in Seacombe, as the "new home of [Dong Energy’s] offshore-wind manufacturing and maintenance facility" means a compromise must have happened. The Alabama Way site is referred to in a quote in that article from Cllr Phil Davies as, "Alternative sites had been considered in Birkenhead, but were rejected by my council team responding to community concerns."

However the number of jobs created seems to have gone from sixty to sixty-five jobs (the number referred to in the planning appeal) down to forty jobs. This seems to be another example of where Wirral Council is spending Regional Growth Fund money (you can also read a story published on this blog last week on how £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money is being spent on a new Unilever building in Port Sunlight).

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Wirral Council paid barrister £6,090 for 2 day planning inquiry hearing & 5 hours of work

Wirral Council paid barrister £6,090 for 2 day planning inquiry hearing & 5 hours of work

Wirral Council paid barrister £6,090 for 2 day planning inquiry hearing & 5 hours of work

                                                                  

Below is a redacted invoice and a partially unredacted invoice. These relate to a planning application for land at the former Ellerman Lines Sports & Social Club, Carr Lane, Hoylake CH47 4AX.

On the 23rd November 2011, Wirral Council received a planning application for “The erection of 62 affordable homes together with associated works” ( planning application APP/11/01348 )

On the 26th April 2012, Wirral Council planning officers decided to refuse the planning application.

This decision was appealed to the Planning Inspectorate by Kirby Park Ltd C/O Agents, JASP Planning and the appeal was accepted on the 31st October 2012.

The Planning Inspectorate then arranged a public hearing in front of a planning inspector (Karen L Baker DipTP MA DipMP MRTPI) on the 7th and 8th of February 2013 with a site visit on the 8th February 2013. The inspector issued her decision on the 18th March 2013 which upheld Wirral Council’s planning officer’s decision (Mr M Rushton) to refuse planning permission.

The invoice below (for £6,090) is for the junior barrister (Mr Jonathan Easton of Kings Chambers) who acted for Wirral Council at the two-day hearing. This is for £5,075 + VAT (total £6,090). I enclose two versions below. The original received from Wirral Council incorrectly redacted Jonathan Easton’s name and the address/planning reference for the inquiry (which is held in public).

You can read the decision on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

The planning fee Wirral Council charged the developer for this application was £17,765. So at least what they got charged for legal advice and representation at the planning inquiry didn’t exceed this!

The Wirral Globe wrote about this planning application back in December 2011.

Wirral Council Jonathan Easton £6090 APP/W4325/A/12/2184753 17th March 2013
Wirral Council Jonathan Easton £6090 APP/W4325/A/12/2184753 17th March 2013

Wirral Council Johnathan Easton £6090 APP/W4325/A/12/2184753 17th March 2013 partially unredacted
Wirral Council Johnathan Easton £6090 APP/W4325/A/12/2184753 17th March 2013 partially unredacted

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EXCLUSIVE: Planning Inspector Griffiths refuses appeal for 10 houses in greenbelt near Storeton Woods

EXCLUSIVE: Planning Inspector Griffiths refuses appeal for 10 houses in greenbelt near Storeton Woods

EXCLUSIVE: Planning Inspector Griffiths refuses appeal for 10 houses in greenbelt near Storeton Woods

                             

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Planning Appeal to OUT/13/01259 Land adjacent Marsh Lane Higher Bebington CH63 5PP Part 2 Committee Room 2, Wallasey Town Hall, 23rd July 2014

In an update to a story about an informal planning appeal hearing held at Wallasey Town Hall last week the Planning Inspectorate have made their decision to refuse the appeal. The site is currently a paddock with stables next to Storeton Woods.

The original grounds Wirral Council planning officers had given for refusing the application were inappropriate development in the greenbelt, highway safety and the effect it would have on trees covered by a tree protection order. The main issue for Planning Inspector Griffiths to consider was whether ten houses on this site (planning permission has already been given for conversion of the existing stables to three houses) was inappropriate development in the greenbelt.

On highway safety grounds, Inspector Griffiths disagreed with Wirral Council officers and local residents, as he regarded the extra traffic would not be significant. The Appellant had proposed moving a sandstone wall with an adjacent property to provide an access road to the ten houses. However in the Planning Inspector’s decision he stated this “would complicate and disrupt the continuous linear nature of the sandstone wall in an injurious fashion”.

The trees on the appeal site, which were protected by a tree protection order, were also referred to in the decision as “attractive features that contribute positively to the area.” He also felt it wasn’t clear that the moving of the sandstone wall for the access road could be done without resulting in the loss of trees.

Erecting ten houses (with gardens) on the site with an access road would affect the openness of the greenbelt permanently. In conclusion the Planning Inspector stated that “the proposal would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the area” and would “conflict with UDP Policy HS4 that requires proposals for new housing development not to result in detrimental change in the character of an area, amongst other things, and UDP Policy GR7 that, in simple terms, seeks to protect trees.”

There was a long discussion at the end of the hearing about housing land supply. The Council’s position was that it had a six-year supply of deliverable housing sites (or five years with a 20% buffer). The Appellant, using figures from the previous Regional Spatial Strategy instead said that the Council could only demonstrate a four-year supply or three and a half-year supply with a 20% buffer. The inspector commented on the housing land supply in his decision “Against that overall background, and on the basis of the evidence before me, it is difficult to reach a definitive view as to whether or not the Council can demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”

In conclusion the Planning Inspector stated that even if Wirral Council couldn’t prove a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites, that the provision of ten houses on the site along with highway improvements weren’t enough to outweigh the harm caused by inappropriate development in the greenbelt. Therefore the appeal didn’t constitute the “very special circumstances” for development in the greenbelt and was refused.

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