Planning application 15F/0516 - to erect 200 dwellings on the former site of Gateacre Community Comprehensive School, with new accesses to Grange Lane and Cuckoo Lane - was discussed by Liverpool City Council's Planning Committee on Tuesday 7th July 2015. The Committee consisted of 10 councillors, the Chair being Cllr John McIntosh. Only 4 of the councillors spoke during the course of the discussion.
Nigel Smith, Associate Director of Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd - the applicant - began by giving a presentation outlining the benefits of the scheme, its compliance with Council and government policies, the 'engineering challenges' which he said had delayed the planning application, the consultation which had taken place and the relatively small number of objections which had been received. Among the benefits he listed were the planting of 280 trees, the contribution of £200,000 towards off-site improvements to local recreational facilities, and the making of a profit to "cross-subsidise regeneration and other initiatives prioritised by the City Council".
Questions were invited, and several came forward from Cllrs Richard Kemp and Steve Radford:
What is now known about contamination on the site?
Won't the proposed retaining wall cause drainage problems and be potentially unstable?
What guarantee is there that the landscaping will be maintained?
What are you doing with regard to the covenants that affect the land?
The answers given by Mr Smith were that all the details had been discussed with Council officers who are satisfied that there will be no problems. Management agreements for landscape maintenance, paid for by a levy on house owners, are not unusual. The legal aspects are under review, but "our lawyers are confident there's no problem" in respect of the covenants.
Six members of the public had expressed a wish to address the Committee, and they were allowed to speak in turn (5 minutes each):
1. A representative of the Save Our City Campaign pointed out that this site is a rare survival of the open landscape that had once characterised Gateacre and Childwall, and pleaded for the number of houses to be reduced, and open space provided "for the sake of the new residents".
2. A resident of Grange Lane felt that the traffic forecasts for Grange Lane (1 extra car every 6 minutes) are massive under-estimates, the 'feedback form' circulated by Countryside Properties was biased in favour of the development, and the scheme would devalue both Gateacre's heritage and local house prices.