Ashton Court Planning Application - APP/17/01222. Evidence for the Planning Inspector.
Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
ASHTON COURT, BANKS ROAD, WEST KIRBY.
SAVE WEST KIRBY'S GREEN SPACES FROM URBANISATION.
The existing 22 homes at Ashton Court, have large gardens in front of them, facing Banks Road, and a garden area at the rear.
Ownership of the Ashton Court homes transferred from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, in February 2005, to Wirral Partnership Homes (now called 'Magenta Living').
Since 2011 most of the 22 Ashton Court homes have been unoccupied and totally neglected by Magenta Living.
The private gardens, in front of the Ashton Court homes have, for the last fifty nine years, provided a much appreciated green space, for local residents, half way along Banks Road.
Policy GRE1 of the Local Development Plan calls for Urban Green Spaces, including private gardens, like those at Ashton Court, to be protected.
The Ashton Court gardens should be protected from building schemes since they are areas of visual importance to local residents and to visitors to West Kirby.
Refurbishment and modernisation of existing property is a greener and cheaper option than demolition followed by new build.
Large numbers of West Kirby residents object to Planning Application APP/17/01222 which seeks the DEMOLITION of twenty two flats at Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby and the building of 14 houses (13 X 3-storey houses and 1 X 2-storey house). The new houses would be over 8 metres in height.
There would be no garden area remaining between the front of the 13 X 3-storey houses and the pavement along the eastern side of Banks Road.
Many West Kirby residents are opposed to the DEMOLITION of the existing homes at Ashton Court.
Magenta Living should refurbish and modernise the existing homes rather than destroy highly-valued urban green space at Ashton Court by building 14 tightly-packed houses.
West Kirby's remaining urban green space should be protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
Previously, the 22 retirement flats were classed as ‘Social Rented Housing’ .
None of the proposed 14 houses would be ’Social Rented Housing’, according to item 17 of the APP/17/01222 planning application ‘Residential Units’. Item 17 describes the 14 proposed properties as "Market housing - Proposed".
In 2016 the Council's Planning Committee unanimously refused planning permission for exactly the same design proposal for Ashton Court (APP/16/00823).
A. - Why did the planning officer providing information to the Planning Inspector, following an appeal by the applicant, concerning the APP/16/00823 application, not give evidence to the Planning Inspector concerning the need for low cost retirement properties in the centre of West Kirby?
B. - Why did the planning officer providing information to the Planning Inspector, following an appeal by the applicant, concerning the APP/16/00823 application, not give evidence to the Planning Inspector concerning the anticipated effects of twenty plus extra children, following the possible construction of 14 houses at Ashton Court, West Kirby, on local schools?
C. - Why did the planning officer providing information to the Planning Inspector, following an appeal by the applicant, concerning the APP/16/00823 application, not give evidence to the Planning Inspector concerning the numbers of empty houses in West Kirby? There are seven estate agents in West Kirby, each selling houses in the town.
D. - Was the planning officer who provided information to the Planning Inspector, following an appeal by the applicant, concerning the APP/16/00823 application, the same planning officer who recommended approval of the APP/16/00823 application to the Planning Committee, in 2016?
E. - Will the Council give a commitment that, if the Planning Committee rejects the APP/17/01222 planning application, the planning officer who provides information to the Planning Inspector, following an appeal by the applicant, concerning the APP/17/01222 application, is not the planning officer who possibly recommends approval of the APP/17/01222 application to the Planning Committee.
Dear Mr Rundle
We write in response to your Freedom of Information request regarding
Planning Application APP/17/01222. We have reviewed both the application
and the inspector’s decision and would offer the following comments in
response to your enquiry.
The application was refused as the impact of the proposal was considered
to have a detrimental impact on the residential amenities of surrounding
and future occupiers of the development. The full wording is as follows:
1 Notwithstanding the principle of residential development within the
Primarily Residential Area, the development proposed, and notably Plots 7
& 8, by reason of scale, siting, design and the relationship with
neighbouring properties, would result in an unneighbourly form of
development that would appear overbearing and result in a loss of privacy
for occupants of neighbouring properties, particularly 3 and 4 Ashton
Drive. The development is therefore contrary to Policy HS4 (New Housing
Development) of the Wirral Unitary Development Plan and the principles of
the National Planning Policy Framework.
2 The proposed development, by reason of the siting and layout of Plot 14
at the south east end of the site, and having regards to the restricted
and enclosed nature of this part of the site, together with its
relationship with the adjacent sub-station, would result in a cramped form
of development that also fails to provide a well surveilled environment
that would be to the detriment of the safety and amenities of the
occupiers of this property. The development is therefore contrary to
Policy HS4 (New Housing Development) of the Wirral Unitary Development
Plan and the principles for good design required by the National Planning
In response to points A, B and C of your information request, the planning
inspector, when assessing the appeal, considered that the main issue
· The effect of the proposed development on the living conditions
of no’s 3 and 4 Ashton Drive with particular regard to outlook and
· Whether the proposed development would provide adequate living
conditions for the future occupiers of plot 14 with particular regard to
outlook and security
· Whether the proposed development makes adequate provision for
The Inspector acknowledged that there had been a number of concerns raised
regarding the closure of Ashton Court, the consequent loss of affordable
homes for the elderly in the area, and regarding the organisation that was
responsible for Aston Court and stated that “these are not the matters
before me in this appeal, and in determining the appeal I only have regard
to the planning merit of the case”
On that basis there was no reason for the planning officer to give any
evidence as stated in points A, B and C of your email.
With regards to points D and E of your request, It was the same planning
officer that presented the Council’s case through written representation
following the subsequent submission of the appeal.
The law requires that decisions should be taken in accordance with the
development plan, unless material considerations (which specifically
include the NPPF) indicate otherwise (s38A Planning & Compensation Act
2004 and s70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990). This applies to
all planning decisions. Any reasons for refusal must be justified against
the development plan and other material considerations
All applications, regardless of the decision making process are the
subject of a report and that report sets out the recommendation of
officers as to whether planning permission should be granted or refused.
In deciding an application, the Committee are entitled to make a decision
which is contrary to the officer recommendation provided the reasons for
doing so are minuted. This is more important on refusals of planning
permission rather than approvals because the decision to refuse may be
challenged at appeal.
There are three types of appeal procedure; written representations, local
hearing and planning inquiry. Most appeals are dealt with under the
written representations procedure and, even where a Committee decision is
contrary to officer advice, officers will complete the appeal process on
behalf of the Council. Where a refusal of permission against
recommendation is to be dealt with by a local hearing or inquiry, the
Constitution requires that member act a lead witness to defend the
There is therefore no reason in this instance why the same case officer
should not deal with any subsequent applications on the same site.
We trust this clarifiers the Council’s position.
Senior Information Management Officer
Business Services - Digital
Tel: 0151 691 8201
[Wirral Borough Council request email]
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