Posted by: John Brace | 19th January 2018

Wirral Council Planning Committee vote in favour of 21 houses in Eastham greenbelt to fund redevelopment of Old Anselmians Rugby Club

Wirral Council Planning Committee vote in favour of 21 houses in Eastham greenbelt to fund redevelopment of Old Anselmians Rugby Club

                                    

I will start by stating an interest in this matter. The planning application I am about to write about relates to the Old Anselmians Rugby Club. Although I left over 20 years ago, I could be described as an Old Anselmian (that is someone who formerly went to St. Anselms College).

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Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 18th January 2018 Part 1 of 5.

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Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 18th January 2018 Part 2 of 5

Councillors voting favour of Old Anselmians Rugby Club planning application 18th January Planning Committee

Councillors voting favour of Old Anselmians Rugby Club planning application 18th January Planning Committee

Yesterday evening (starting at the 7:34 point) in the first video above, Wirral Council’s Planning Committee considered a planning application in Eastham for 21 houses, a sports pavilion, a car park, new pitches and fencing in the greenbelt.

Regular readers of this blog will know that last year there was a highly controversial greenbelt planning application in Saughall Massie for a fire station. Referred to yesterday evening was also the recently refused application in the greenbelt in Storeton.

However, the way it went was this.

The planning officer introduced the item going over what was in the report explaining the presumption against development in the greenbelt and why the enabling development of twenty-one houses was required. It was explained that following the closure of Lyndale School, the Youth Hub on the same site had to be relocated. The application was recommended for approval, but there were petitions for and against.

The first petitioner (against) explained the history of the site and the area, he pointed out that Wirral Council had allocated a large sum of money for the new youth club, but he suggested an alternative site instead.

The second petitioner (against) was in favour of refusal also, he was concerned about the highways implications, heritage issues and how if the application was allowed it would encourage similar applications. He did not believe the very special circumstances outweighed the harm to the greenbelt.

The agent for the application explained the sporting benefits and how the car park would help. He asked for the Planning Committee to support it.

Cllr Dave Mitchell disagreed with some of what had been said, but was in favour of the planning application, he highlighted what the club did and the other work it did too. On traffic issues, he approved of the car park as this would help with a parking issue on the main roads. On the subject of the safety of crossing the A41 he referred to ways pedestrians could safely cross.

At the discretion of the Chair, a further speaker was allowed (although initially the Vice-Chair Cllr Foulkes queried this).

Cllr Jerry Williams (Heritage Champion) spoke in favour of refusal and went into detail about the history of the site, the importance of heritage on tourism and quoted the late Walter Smith.

The Chair asked highways to comment on the points raised. Keith said that the parking would alleviate parking issues in the area by taking cars off the road. A S.106 agreement would lead to a 20mph speed limit, so he could see no sustainable reasons to object on highway safety grounds.

Cllr Foulkes spoke on the application, his view was that the Conservation Area status was not a bar to development, that this was greenbelt land on the edge of the greenbelt, he referred to Birkenhead Park Rugby Club, women playing rugby, he felt the existing car park was too small and how he had by mistake entered the “abysmal” changing rooms. He knew and trusted the views of the three Lib Dem ward councillors who had persuaded him of the merits of the application.

Cllr David Elderton referred to the site visit, the community benefit and the s.106 agreement. He supported the officer’s recommendation and the three ward councillors.

Cllr Stuart Kelly also spoke in favour of it, referring to the sport benefits and traffic benefits. Referring to the recently refused application in Storeton, he stated that the Storeton application had it been approved would lead to a private benefit, whereas this one had a community benefit.

Cllr Ian Lewis asked for more detail on the Council’s interest in the application. He asked what the £376,000 would be spent on and if there were conditions on its use?

David Ball answered that it would fund the community element of the club house, but that if Planning Committee approved it, it would be referred to the Secretary of State. Cllr Ian Lewis asked him to clarify.

David Ball explained that if approved, it would be referred to the Secretary of State. There would be a period of time in which the Secretary of State could call it in, if the Secretary of State decided to do so the decision would be made by the Secretary of State. If it was not called in, Wirral Council would issue a decision notice granting permission. David Ball then went through a list of what the £376,000 would be spent on.

Cllr Treena Johnson asked a question about affordable housing not being financially viable because of the community element and an explanation behind this? The planning officer gave an explanation.

Cllr Pat Hackett said that it would bring much-needed housing, referred to the three local councillors, the benefits for youth sports and the 20mph reduction in speed that would result.

Cllr Pat Cleary asked a question as to whether the enabling development would fund ongoing maintenance costs, as the authority shouldn’t use capital expenditure for this. David Ball answered his point.

Approval of the application was moved, seconded and the voting was as follows:

Favour (12) (Cllrs Cleary, Kelly, Leech, Foulkes, Realey, Johnson, Hackett, Lewis, Watt, Boult, Elderton, Walsh)
Against (0)
Abstain (1) Cllr Irene Williams

The application was approved, subject to conditions and referral to the Secretary of State.

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