In 2015 we argued for a maximum of 150 dwellings on this site, in accordance with the average density of the surrounding area, plus a 1 hectare open space, in accordance with the Council's UDP policy for housing developments in Park Deficiency Areas. We were told that 200 dwellings were necessary, to pay for the remediation of the site, and that an open space was "unaffordable". The private gardens would make a communal recreation area less necessary, and the developers would pay for improvements to "a nearby public open space".
We were told that the local community would benefit from the 'remediation' of a landfill site which was, by implication, too hazardous to be left as Green Space. In reality - and as we had predicted - no toxic material of any significance was found on the site. We doubt whether the £2.8 million 'remediation cost' mentioned in the 2015 Case Officer Report was in fact spent.
Now we are being told that 200 houses are not enough, because "people want" semi-detached houses with tiny gardens rather than detached houses on larger plots. We don't believe this. People want properties below a certain price, not below a certain size. Countryside Properties should be pricing their houses to meet local demand, not forcing families to live in tall, narrow houses on tiny plots. It is ironic that on two other sites - Allerton Priory and Harthill - developers are trying to justify building on Green Space by arguing that Liverpool needs more large, detached houses to remedy an imbalance in the market!
In our submission to the Planning Committee in 2015, we said that the value of the land would depend on how many houses were allowed. If a 1 hectare recreation area had to be provided, then Countryside would not have to pay the City Council - the owner of the former school - as much. Now we say that, if it really is much easier to sell small semi-detached houses rather than larger detached houses, the 'surplus' land should be returned to the community. The proposed density of the development is 29.2 dwellings per hectare. So why cannot 29 dwellings be omitted from the plans, and a 1 hectare open space substituted? This would still leave a total of 202 houses on the site - the same number that Countryside were proposing at the time of the public consultation in 2014.
Apart from the Green Space issues, one of our main concerns in 2015 was the impact that the development would have on traffic congestion. In response to these concerns, and at the request of Merseytravel, planning permission 15F/0516 was made subject to a condition that Countryside Properties produced and implemented a Travel Plan. The idea was to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport in preference to the private car.