While plans to build homes on the site are still not going ahead, Liverpool City Council has confirmed it will appeal a High Court judgement rejecting the scheme, due to the ruling’s “far-reaching consequences” for development on green wedge land.
The application for 51 homes, which included 39 new-builds and 12 apartments within an existing historic house on the Harthill Estate, had been backed by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and the council, but had also seen a four-year battle with campaigners.
Objections to the scheme from the Liverpool Open and Green Spaces Community Interest Group, or LOGSCIC, and the Save Calderstones Park group had centred on the loss of green space within the park, although the council had argued the Harthill Estate was not part of Calderstones Park as it was not accessible by the public.
As well as a 50,000-signature petition, the objections culminated in a judicial review, which ruled in favour of LOGSCIC on 18 January.
In his judgment made last month, Justice Kerr upheld the appeal brought by LOGSCIC on the grounds that Liverpool Council had misinterpreted part of its own policy, which relates to the protection of a green wedge at Calderstones Park. This resulted in the existing planning permission being quashed.
Following this, Anderson confirmed plans by the council and housebuilder Redrow were “dead” and would “not be resurrected in any form”.
However, in launching its appeal, which has been allowed by the judge, the council said the ruling would have “far-reaching consequences for Local Authorities in how they deal with land classed as green wedge”. Justice Kerr’s ruling accepted that green belt land and green wedge land differ in some respects.
The city council’s chief executive Tony Reeves said: “The Mayor has been absolutely clear that the Harthill scheme will not go ahead or be resurrected in any form, and I want to reassure people that, whatever the result of the appeal, that position will not change.
“It is for that reason we are not appealing the costs we were ordered to pay the group that brought the challenge, and have made a payment to them of £30,000 towards them.
“The reason we are appealing is because the judgement raises much wider issues about established planning policy and the difference between green belt and green wedge.
“As a growing city, we need a solid planning framework which outlines clear definitions for types of land to help us arrive at consistent decisions around development.
“As it stands, Mr Justice Kerr’s judgement casts doubt on established principles, and leaves councils up and down the country open to challenge on their assessment of policies which have been in place for many years.
“We are appealing to get clarity on the wider issue, so everyone involved in the planning process, whether it is developers, councils, landowners or local residents, has clarity around how planning applications for development on green wedge should be assessed.