Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has confirmed Redrow and Liverpool City Council’s proposals to build homes on part of Calderstones Park are now “dead” after a High Court quashed the council’s decision to grant planning permission.
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 Anderson and the council, but had also seen a four-year battle with campaigners over the site.
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, 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.
Justice Kerr also found issues with council planning officers placing too little weight on concerns raised by Liverpool Council’s conservation officers, who had argued the development would cause harm to the existing grade two-listed Beechley House and its surroundings.
Regarding the omission to mention or credit the conservation team’s report in the planning documents, Justice Kerr said: “In my judgment, the local planning authority and the developer are wrong to dismiss the significance of this omission, and LOGS is correct to emphasise that the conservation team report came from within the local planning authority itself, and that the omission created a false and misleading impression that the local planning authority as an organisation had no objection to the proposals from a heritage perspective.
“That had the effect of downplaying the weight to be given to harm to the heritage assets or their setting.”
He added: “The local planning authority’s conservation team, like the environmental health and highways officers and the drainage engineer, has expertise in conservation matters and like them is paid by the local taxpayer to express them in the public interest.
“A balanced report would have summarised the view of the conservation team as a negative internal consultation response, counterbalancing the relatively positive ones from highways, environmental health, and the drainage engineer.”
Following the ruling, the planning applications for the site were quashed.
Reacting to the High Court ruling, Anderson said: “The first thing to say is that the Harthill scheme is dead. It will not be resurrected. In any form.
“I want the campaigners and all the local residents to know I have been listening to their concerns.
“Frustratingly, because of the Judicial Review I have been unable to say anything. Well today I can and as I’ve consistently saying since day one, our role has always been to support Calder Kids and Beechley Riding Stables.
“They have been our number one priority and in the past two years we’ve given tens of thousands of pounds to assist them both – with Calder Kids to be relocated to a new home.
“Today’s decision does not change our focus and we will immediately renew discussions with the board at Beechley on how best to secure the long-term future of this fantastic community facility.
“Liverpool City Council is a proud custodian of our fantastic parks and open spaces. We manage 2,605 acres every single day – that’s bigger than Delamere Forest. Our green agenda is of huge importance and we’ll be announcing some exciting plans shortly.”