As it is a bank holiday today, I will just be writing briefly today about what has been popular on this blog in the last week and taking the rest of the day off. The last week (August is traditionally a quiet month for politics) has seen 551 visitors to this blog viewing 1,247 pages. The top seven stories in order of popularity the last week have been:
There were petitioners that spoke for and against the proposals. In addition to the petitioners, Jeremy Butler (Tranmere Rovers Chief Executive) made the last representation for Tranmere Rovers in support of the application. Finally ward councillors Cllr Ron Abbey (for Leasowe and Moreton East) and Cllr Paul Doughty (for Prenton) also spoke to the Planning Committee.
These representations were followed by a discussion about the linked applications by the councillors on the Planning Committee. If the applications were approved Mr Parry Davies told councillors that the plan was to move the existing plaque to the Birkenhead Old Boys who died in World War I to Hamilton Square.
David Ball referred to a letter from the Birkenhead Institute Old Boys to the Chief Executive Graham Burgess that he had received and assured councillors that they would work constructively if the applications were approved to remove the plaque to a suitable place in Hamilton Square to the men who gave their lives to the country. He also said that they would work constructively over the tree issues which were there in memory of the people who had died.
He explained that the previous approved application for Woodchurch hadn’t been able to be progressed so alternative sites had to be looked at. If approved he would make sure that the conditions were “rigorously enforced”. In discussions with Tranmere Rovers Football Club they had made a commitment to work with Wirral Council on those matters such as the men who fell in World War I.
In response to Cllr Phillip Brightmore he said that he would be sending written confirmation of this to Birkenhead Institute Old Boys that they would deal sensitively and appropriately and take all steps to make sure what he’d outlined would happen. His assurance was that the mater would be dealt with sensitively. He said he was happy to lead on it along with David Armstrong to make sure it was being dealt with at a senior level. Mr. Ball gave his assurance to councillors on these two matters.
Cllr David Elderton asked a question about heights and whether they could condition the housing planning application to reduce heights to not exceed more than two stories? Matthew Parry Davies replied that these would be considered at the reserved matters stage of any application. Cllr Denise Realey said that she lived near to Tranmere Rovers Football Club’s football ground (Prenton Park), she had heard councillors on the radio talking about it and what would be done with the money from the sale. She pointed out the five-mile distance from Birkenhead to Leasowe and didn’t think the benefits outweighed the problems.
Matthew Parry Davies replied that the National Planning Policy Framework didn’t require replacement facilities to be in the same ward or locality but just within the Borough. The section 106 agreement would make sure money from the sale of the land would be placed into an account solely for the provision of a new training ground. He then answered a question about the Leasowe site and its public transport links.
Cllr Stuart Kelly stated that it was a departure to the development plan and ought to be refused unless the circumstances outweighed the loss. He referred to the loss off the recreation ground and the heritage issues. Cllr Kelly referred to the intentions of those that built the pavilion to provide sporting facilities for young people in Birkenhead. He didn’t think that having a training ground in Leasowe was a suitable replacement. Cllr Kelly wanted a replacement in Birkenhead and referred the loss of open recreation land in Leasowe and traffic issues.
Cllr Christine Spriggs talked about the passions and emotions about these applications. She suggested that Tranmere Rovers Football Club had a real and meaningful dialogue with Birkenhead Institute Old Boys. Cllr Spriggs went on to refer to the housing built on the former site of the Birkenhead Institute School.
The Chair asked a question about the fencing, to which the reply was that the five metre fence was to prevent balls leaving the training ground. Cllr Kelly also referred to the fence and asked if they could demonstrate special circumstances for the development? Cllr Daniel referred to the issue of social housing and was told that the viability assessment for social housing had been revised but that social housing wasn’t viable at the moment. The section 106 agreement would include a contribution to affordable housing if land values changed.
Cllr Brightmore asked if it was permitted development in the greenbelt? An officer replied that as it was for recreation or sport that this was an acceptable and appropriate use of the greenbelt.
The first vote was on agenda item 5 (the Solar Campus, Leasowe application). Cllr Kelly asked why they were having that vote first? Rosemary Lyons, legal adviser to the Planning Committee stated that they were dealing with item 5 first to enable them to make a reasoned decision on item 4 as the two were linked.
Cllr Kathryn Hodson proposed approval of item 5, seconded by Cllr Matt Daniel. Eight councillors voted for, five against so the application was approved.
Cllr Stuart Kelly moved refusal of item four because it was contrary to the Unitary Development Plan and under policy RE6 failed to demonstrate an adequate replacement provision regarding the location. Cllr Denise Realey seconded this.
More councillors voted against refusal then for approval (Cllr Christine Spriggs abstained).
Cllr Kathy Hodson moved approval, seconded by Cllr David Elderton. As before eight councillors voted for and five against. So both linked planning applications were approved by an 8:5 vote.
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