Halton sets out defence as developer appeals

Anwyl Homes Lancashire and partner Widnes Golf Club are looking to build 233 homes and reduce the course’s size, a bid the council has already turned down once, backed by 400 objections.

The application’s appearance on the agenda for the meeting of Halton Council’s development management committee on 7 December follows the submission of an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.

This was filed on grounds of non-determination, as the designated 13-week period has elapsed since the submission of revised plans.

John Grime, managing director of Anwyl Homes Lancashire, said: “Our revised plans took on board feedback from the original application and made significant changes to reflect some of the concerns raised.

“This included a reduction in the number of properties, an increase in the amount of green space, retention of more trees within the retained golf course and additional planting of new ones, improved footpaths and cycle links through the site, and changes to the proposed access.”

The inquiry has been set for 28 February 2022.

Barton Willmore is the planning advisor to the partnership. Eddisons, Ironside Farrar, Weetwood, Redmore Environmental and TPM Landscape are also on the professional team.

With officers again recommending refusal, committee members are asked to consider how they would have determined the matter, with the further recommendation that the council’s position as set out in the committee report pack is defended at appeal.

According to the officers’ report, of 406 letters of representation, 401 have been objections.

Halton’s development management committee turned down an initial application from the partners for the 62-acre site in March this year.

That scheme comprised 249 homes, the reduction of the course from 18 holes to nine, and demolition and replacement of existing buildings including the clubhouse.

Four grounds were cited: loss of greenspace without providing adequate evidence of low demand for an 18-hole course, impact on highways, flood risk, and the loss of a significant amount of trees.

The partners reworked the scheme, submitting plans this summer for 233 homes in a proposal that kept the same amount of affordable homes – 60, spread across homes of one to three bedrooms. The 173 market rate homes include 128 homes of four bedrooms or more.

The appeal for the 233-home version replaces an appeal for the previous iteration, which was due to be heard in December.

In the report for committee, officers state that “members will note the challenges that the determination of a major planning application within the 13-week target date poses especially where the applicant has not engaged in detailed pre application discussions”.

In addition, officers state that the applicant had not responded to a request for an extension, adding that further supporting information for the submission had been supplied only days before the applicant appealed, with no time to process it.

Officers believe that refusing on the principle of residential development on part of a golf course can again be substantiated at appeal.

On the three further grounds – highways, flood risk and arboriculture and landscape matters – further work is being carried out. Members are assured that “offices will only include grounds which they consider can be substantiated at appeal in the council’s statement of case”.

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