Approval of plan to demolish West Kirby buildings and replace with apartments panned as 'disgraceful'

By David Humphreys

5th Aug 2022 | Local News

How the apartment block might look...
How the apartment block might look...

The approval of a controversial housing development in West Kirby has been branded 'disgraceful' at a fiery meeting.

The development application proposed the demolition of several buildings at 100 and 102 Meols Drive to build a single apartment block of ten flats with underground parking.

The planning committee voted on two motions, one to refuse the application and one to approve.

Votes for both fell along the same lines with nine in favour and two against approving the controversial plans.

Hundreds of residents had opposed the plans and 14 objectors attended and protested when a representative for the application made claims about the sustainability of the project. 

Google Streetview image of one property in line to be demolished

When the Meols Drive development plan was approved, one member of the public urged councillors to consider the environmental impact of the proposal. "I think you should all consider the carbon cost more," they said, while another added it was "disgraceful."

Councillor Alison Wright left the room for most of the discussion due to her public opposition to the development, though she was given five minutes to voice her concerns. 

Councillor Wright highlighted the importance of the Meols Drive Conservation Area, criticised the council's development plan, and said, if approved, the development would have wider consequences and set a precedent.

She said: "There's evidence that the scheme deviates from some relevant policies within the framework and the Wirral Development Plan therefore doesn't comply robustly with the principle of protection."

Elizabeth Webster, who petitioned the application, said the plans were "wrong" and that the planning report "lacks objectivity and provided only incomplete information in key areas."

She said, "The loss of mature trees and building a large apartment block will have a significant impact on the Conservation Area."

Councillor Andrew Gardner voted to oppose the plans and repeatedly raised the issue that the new building would be visible from the nearby Royal Liverpool golf course.

However Councillor Steve Foulkes disagreed with this view saying that he went around the back of the property and "virtually couldn't see the buildings." 

He said the impact of the development was minimal and praised the proposed apartments as a positive contribution to the area that would lead to more people visiting nearby shops.

"I am really trying to think about where we are in terms of policy, and the national policy framework does encourage us to maximise the amount of properties on particular sites."

He added: "My view is that this makes a useful contribution not only to the local area but to housing policy."

Committee Chair Stuart Kelly also praised the plans and despite objections to the demolition of a conservatory and coach house at Meols Drive, he said, "I would have thought in the absence of a compelling case put to us by Historic England that it's something that couldn't survive any scrutiny if we were to refuse the application."

Councillor Kelly also said that while there was a minor clash with density guidelines in the area, the development plan was "out of date", and "I am not able to identify significant harm to the conservation area."

An amendment was made by Councillor Harry Gorman to encourage maximising the number of replacement trees planted on the site before the apartments are occupied.

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