FORMER GATEACRE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL SITE: STATEMENT BY MIKE CHITTY,
ON BEHALF OF THE GATEACRE SOCIETY,
TO LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL'S PLANNINGCOMMITTEE,
7th JULY 2015
In December 2014 I submitted detailed comments, on behalf of the Gateacre Society, to Messrs Turley, the Countryside Properties planning consultants. In April 2015 I submitted detailed comments to Jon Woodward, the City Council's case officer, in respect of Planning Application 15F/0516.I don't propose to reiterate everything that was said in those two documents, as our objections are well-summarised in the Case Officer Report which has been circulated with the Agenda for this meeting.We were, though, very disappointed to find that, in spite of all the points made by those who responded to the initial consultation, the planning application submitted in March 2015 was virtually identical to the proposals which had been exhibited to local residents in November 2014.
The major criticism we expressed in our written submissions was that there are too many houses proposed (202 dwellings in the initial proposals and 200 dwellings in the submitted planning application), no provision of open space in what the Council's Planning Department has defined as a Park Deficiency Area, and too few pedestrian links proposed between the development site and Grange Lane. We suggested a one hectare open space in the centre of the site, bordering onto Grange Lane. To avoid the topographical problem which the Case Officer Report (page 14) has highlighted, this would have a level section for recreation, plus a sloping section accommodating footpaths down to the Grange Lane frontage. These paths would enable and encourage both the new and existing residents of the area to take healthy exercise on their way to and from local bus stops, shops and other facilities.
Our suggestion has been rejected purely on the grounds of cost. The developer told us that it is "not financially viable" to provide an open space. The Case Officer Report (page 14) states that while the Council would "normally wish" the developer to incorporate a one hectare open space, in accordance with the UDP Policy OE14, it would be "unaffordable" on this particular site. We have yet to see any costings to justify these statements. Surely it all depends on how much is being paid for the land - and the financial value of the land will be less if the Council sticks to its UDP policies and insists on the provision of open space.
In the exhibition material displayed to local residents in November 2014, the developer stated one of the Local Benefits as "investing £28 million in remediating a former landfill site". It would seem, from the Case Officer Report (page 9), that they actually meant to say "£2.8 million". That decimal point makes quite a difference - and in spite of the hundreds of pages of documentation which (belatedly) was made available to us, we are still none the wiser about the true condition of the land. As we pointed out to Messrs Turley - and as the Case Officer Report (page 1) confirms - the tipping which took place in the 1950s was quite deliberate, being designed to create level playing fields for the new school. It is very misleading to describe the site as a rubbish tip which desperately needs to be reclaimed. Much of the land is true Green Space, not "a brownfield site" as the developer calls it.