West Lancashire’s planning committee has deferred two housing applications which would bring 190 homes to the market in Skelmersdale and Lathom for a later committee, while applicant Edge Hill University withdrew its retrospective application for an overflow car park.
The first of the deferred schemes was Southworth Construction’s proposal, pictured above, for 60 two-storey houses with 12 allotments. The company’s plans for 21 two-bedroom, 28 three-bedroom, and 11 four-bedroom houses on the 2.5 acre site that was previously a football pitch, are planned to be joined by the aforementioned allotments, 132 car parking spaces, a Scout Hut and a communal building.
Its approval is subject to a Section 106 agreement of £290,000 to mitigate the loss of the football pitches, as called for by Sports England.
The council received 10 letters of objection to the scheme based on its lack of support for local infrastructure and its lack of affordable housing. Another five letters were submitted to support the scheme which commended the benefits to the local scouts, community revitalisation, and more housing provision to the area.
The scheme is designed by RPS Design Group.
Wainhomes’ outline application for 130 homes in the town was also deferred.
The five-acre Firstwood Road site was previously safeguarded, but released through the Local Plan specifically for residential developments. The overall site encompasses 22-acres and is set for future housing down the line.
To the south of the scheme, Bellway Homes is delivering the first phase of the Firstwood Road scheme with 94 homes. Details of the layout, scale, appearance and landscape will be reserved for future approval. The scheme was designed by Baldwin Design Consultancy on behalf of Wainhomes, while the application was also supported by Emery Planning.
Edge Hill University’s 8.6-acre Green Belt car park was withdrawn, despite the university explaining that its overflow car park was already in use and the approval would only be improvements to the existing facilities.
“The University considers the harm generated by the proposals as being significantly overstated in the report,” argued Edge Hill representatives.
“The circumstances of the case are different to the majority of other proposals located within the Green Belt and should be considered in the context of ensuring safe and efficient operation of the university, to minimise impacts on surrounding residential areas and the safety and efficiency of the local highway network. The substantial and very real consequences that would arise should the University to cease using the overflow car parking area should not be understated.”
However, the council’s director of development and regeneration refuted the university’s claims. “It has been acknowledged that the overflow car park has permission as a temporary solution at peak times.
“I disagree with the assumption that the harm attributable to the development has been overstated. This is a Green Belt location and the NPPF places great importance to Green Belts. Whilst a form of car park for peak periods has already been approved in order to assist with reducing highway and amenity impacts, the development now proposed is considered to have a greater impact on the Green Belt.
“The development that has now been undertaken results in a greater impact as the car park could be utilised all year round, includes the widening and hard engineered trim trail and more substantial engineered solution in and around the car park area.
“As set out in the main report, having taken the circumstances of the case regarding consequential on-street parking into account, I remain of the view that the development constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt.”
Neighbouring residents objected on similar grounds, and also to the fact that student numbers have decreased. A letter of support was received which stated the need for car parking in order to “alleviate other parking problems along St Helens Road.”