Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
A few days ago a West Kirby resident sent an inquiry to the Planning Department of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council concerning the efforts being made by the Council to include twenty two empty retirement flats (at Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby) and the large garden area around the flats, included on a Council 'Brownfield' register. The resident expressed concern that, if Ashton Court was to be included on a 'brownfield' register, then it would follow that an individual house and garden could also be included. The resident commented that 'brownfield' sites were widely considered to be formerly industrial or commercial sites.
A response was received from the Council's Principal Planning Officer which stated:
"Ashton Court can be described as a brownfield site because it has been previously developed for residential purposes.
Previously developed land is defined in the Annex of the National Planning Policy Framework as 'land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the development land'.
The definition does not specify that such sites should only relate to industrial or commercial purposes."
This response is, at the very least, an example of selective quoting, but should be seen, more accurately, as an example of deliberate deception.
The full wording, in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Annex 2: Glossary is -
'Previously developed land
Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure. This excludes: land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings; land that has been developed for mineral extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures; land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments; and land that was previously-developed but where the remains of the permanent structure or fixed surface structure have blended into the landscape in the process of time.'
Can the Council please explain the reasoning that led to its decision to attempt to include the 22 empty Ashton Court retirement flats and their private gardens (which appear to comprise the majority of the area of the whole plot) as a 'brownfield' site, given the very clear exclusion provided to private residential gardens specifically detailed in the NPPF Annex 2 Glossary?
Dear Mr Rundle
In response to your Freedom of Information enquiry dated 8 December 2017,
Wirral Council advises as follows.
There is no evidence of deliberate deception in the answer that was given
in the earlier response email to which you refer. The answer was given in
response to a query asking if the Council defines a brownfield site as
only having been used for industrial or commercial purposes.
We are aware that private residential gardens are excluded in the
definition of previously developed land that you have cited. Nevertheless,
if a house was to be demolished, then the land it occupied including its
curtilage could be considered to be brownfield land if the remains had not
blended into the landscape over time.
The reasoning for including sites on the proposed Brownfield Register,
including Ashton Court, is explained in the report which can be viewed at:
The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017
that cover the requirements for entering land on the register can viewed
at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/... . The
Regulations require the Local Planning Authority to prepare, maintain and
publish a statutory Brownfield Land Register by 31 December 2017, to
provide information on previously developed land that would be suitable,
available and achievable for new housing development as defined in
We trust this provides a clear response.
Senior Information Management Officer
Business Services - Digital
Tel: 0151 691 8201
[Wirral Borough Council request email]
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