Misinformation provided by officers of the Council, re: Ashton Court planning matters

Alan Rundle made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
1. Considering the information provided below, why did one or more planning officers provide wholly misleading information concerning the 'footprint' of 14 Magenta Living houses, proposed for Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby, to the 10 November 2016 Planning Committee?

2. Considering the information provided below, why did one or more planning officers provide wholly misleading information concerning the 'footprint' of 14 Magenta Living houses, proposed for Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby, to the Planning Inspector, who published her appeal decision on 23 May 2017?

3. Considering these serious misrepresentations, what actions does the Council propose to take?

ASHTON COURT is NOT a ‘brownfield’ site!

The twenty two, Ashton Court retirement flats, in Banks Road, West Kirby, were built in 1958 by Hoylake and West Kirby Urban District Council.

Magenta Living (a housing association and a registered charity, whose income exceeded its expenditure by more than £10 million in the last financial year) owns the empty Ashton Court retirement flats. In 2011 the twenty two retired residents were paid £5000 each to leave their Ashton Court homes. In 2014 three ‘guardians’ lived in three of the flats. They are now unoccupied. Magenta Living has neglected the 22 retirement flats since 2011 and should refurbish and modernise these flats as there is a shortage of low rent accommodation for elderly people in West Kirby town centre.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council is proposing to include Ashton Court on a register of ‘brownfield land’.

The communal gardens surrounding the Ashton Court retirement flats are ‘Urban Greenspace’ and should be protected under the Wirral Unitary Development Plan [WUDP - 2000], policy GRE1, The Protection of Urban Greenspace, Strategic Policy, which states -

“Within the urban area the local planning authority will in particular protect from inappropriate development:

(iv) areas of visual importance to the local or wider area (with or without direct public access).”

A ‘reasoned justification’ is provided in the WUDP, GRE1 –

“8.2 Greenspace can include parks, play areas, playing fields, woodlands, as well as individual trees, hedges, private gardens, and other features such as river corridors, road verges, and other smaller amenity areas. Such areas can be of great significance to the character and environment of a neighbourhood, irrespective of their ownership or formal designation as public open space.”

The term ‘brownfield site’ is used to describe land which was previously used for industrial or commercial purposes. Ashton Court has never been used for industrial or commercial purposes and should not be added to a Council ‘brownfield site register’. Ashton Court should not be reclassified as a ‘brownfield site’, which would make the granting of planning permission for the APP/17/01222 planning application much more likely.

The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) responded to the APP/17/01222 Application Consultation on 12 October, stating that "....we object to this application and recommend refusal of planning permission....". The LLFA offers the following advice: "....this site cannot be classed as 'previously developed' or 'brownfield'...."

PLEASE write to David Ball (or email your objection to Ashton Court being added to a register of ‘brownfield’ sites):

David Ball, Assistant Director of Environmental Services, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, c/o Wallasey Town Hall (South Annexe), Brighton Street, Wallasey, Wirral, CH44 8ED.

Email: [email address] Telephone: 0151 691 8110

The deadline for comments to be submitted in writing, by letter or by email, is: 5pm on Wednesday 6 December 2017. A paper copy of the ‘STATUTORY REGISTER OF LAND IN WIRRAL’ can be viwed, on request, in libraries, or online at: http://www.wirral.gov.uk/planning-and-bu...

The 2016 Ashton Court planning application (APP/16/00823) -

Proposal for the demolition of 22 retirement flats and the construction of 13 X 3- storey houses and 1 X 2-storey house.

The Application Fee of £5390 was paid by Watson and Batty Architects (15/06/2016).

Ashton Court’s ‘footprint’ –

The Report to the Planning Committee (10 November 2016) - Under the sub heading ‘APPEARANCE AND AMENITY ISSUES’ it states that: “The footprint of the 13 proposed dwellings fronting the site takes up less than the existing buildings, and even when including the proposed Plot 14 to the rear of the site, there would still likely be no increase in the building footprint on the site.”

The Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision (23 May 2017) –

Paragraph 20 of the Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision states: “....the Council have indicated that the footprint of the proposed development is actually smaller than the existing buildings.”

Whilst the Planning Inspector did dismiss the appeal against the Council’s refusal of planning permission, she did note that (paragraph 24), in relation to the issue of a shortage of school places in the area “I have not been given any detailed evidence which quantifies the extent of any local shortage, or the need for new facilities.” The Planning Inspector also noted (paragraph 23) that: “...I have not been given any firm evidence to show there is an oversupply of housing in the area.” There are seven estate agents in West Kirby each advertising numerous 3-bedroom houses for sale, on the market, just like those proposed by Magenta Living at Ashton Court.

The 2017 Ashton Court planning application (APP/17/01222) – No Application Fee was paid for the APP/17/01222 planning application, since, it is claimed, it is the same as the APP/16/00823 planning application, made within the previous 12 months, by the same applicant.

Ashton Court’s ‘footprint’ – The Starfish Commercial Planning Statement, 2017, (produced by NJL Consulting) provides, on page 14, paragraph 7.6, the following gross internal areas:

“Existing vacant buildings on site to be demolished: 1,265 sq. m

Proposed development of 14no. Dwellings: 1,313.8 sq. m

Increase in floorspace: 48.8 sq. m”

Since Starfish Commercial (from Chesterfield, Derbyshire) has submitted exactly the same Design and Access Statement with the APP/17/01222 planning application and the APP/16/00823 planning application, the different statements concerning the size of the proposed ‘footprint’ are contradictory. They cannot all be factually accurate.

1025 people signed one petition objecting to the APP/17/01222 planning application.

892 signatures were validated by the Council.

133 signatures were judged to be invalid as a consequence of incomplete address details provided.

73 people signed a second petition objecting to the APP/17/01222 planning application.

It is clear that many West Kirby residents want Magenta Living to refurbish and modernise Ashton Court so that elderly people can continue to live in West Kirby town centre. Three storey town houses, with dark blue facing brickwork (ground floor) and red brickwork (upper floors), to be sold on the market, are completely unacceptable.

There is a Planning Committee Meeting planned for the 14th December 2017 but the agenda for that meeting will only be made known to members of the public (online) on 7th December 2017. It is not clear whether the APP/17/01222 application will be on the agenda.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Rundle,



Thank you for your email.


The Freedom of Information Act covers recorded information held by a
public body and relates only to information already held in recorded
form.  The questions you have asked are not for recorded information, and
therefore do not constitute a valid request under the legislation.


Guidance on how to submit an enquiry can be found on the Information
Commissioner’s website at [1]this link.


Wirral Council is therefore unable to assist further with your enquiry.


Yours sincerely,



Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Business Services - Digital

Treasury Building

Cleveland Street
CH41 1AH

[2]Tel:0151 691 8397

[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]



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