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Crosby flats decision is ‘dangerous and baffling’ says Sefton Council

Sefton Council has hit out over a ‘dangerous and baffling’ decision by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to allow a housing development that would see its occupants deprived of private outdoor amenities.

In November 2020, Sefton Council’s Planning Committee officially refused proposals to build a four-storey building comprising of 39 apartments at the former Central Buildings on Church Road, Crosby.

Making its decision, the Council cited ‘an unacceptable level of private amenity space, which would have a detrimental impact on the living conditions of the future occupiers’.

This is in line with conditions supplied to developers prior to planning submissions, in which Sefton Council makes clear it will not, under any circumstances, agree proposals lacking amenity space or space that is significantly below the standard. This is ‘to protect and improve the living conditions of its communities’.

However, the developer appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, which overturned Sefton Council’s decision.

In its ruling, the Planning Inspectorate stated that the development’s occupants will be able to grow plants indoors or walk to a ‘nearby’ park to make up for a lack of outdoor space. And, residents will have to use energy- consuming tumble-driers supplied, owing to the lack of an outdoor drying area. where they would live.

In a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate, Sefton Council’s Chief Planning Officer Derek McKenzie has criticised the Planning Inspectorate’s decision and its ‘blithe acceptance’ of the developer’s position.

He claims that by dismissing the local authorities’ concerns, the Planning Inspectorate’s Inspector ‘completely dismantles all prospect of residents in Crosby benefitting from amenity space in future developments.’

The decision gives developers the encouragement to forgo the provision of basic facilities and create development well below minimum standards expected by Sefton’s Local Plan and indeed the Government’s own planning and housing policies

Cllr Daren Veidman, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Building Control, said:
“These proposals are for 100% affordable housing, for people who would otherwise struggle to secure a home.

“Forcing these disadvantaged people to use expensive tumble dryers to dry their clothes risks driving them into fuel poverty, which is at odds with the basic principles of human rights.

“To flat out deny occupants a right to private outdoor space in any development is baffling and we are stunned that the Planning Inspectorate has dismissed our concerns.

“We have written to the Planning Inspectorate to express our grave concerns over this decision and we will continue to approach any future similar applications with the safety and security of our communities in the forefront of our minds.”

Cllr Veidman continued: “In its Annual Report, the Planning Inspectorate states that ‘sustainable development is at the heart of the Government policies that set the framework for its decisions and recommendations our Inspectors make’.

“All Inspectors’, the report claims, ‘are aware of their duty to ensure the planning system contributes to the achievement of sustainable development’.

“To be honest I am struggling to understand how forcing residents to use energy-inefficient tumble dryers and leaving them with a 30-minute walk to enjoy the benefits of a green open space, meets any of these claims.”