Government minister urged to refuse Hoylake green belt housing plan

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Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has written to Government minister Robert Jenrick urging him to call in and refuse a planning application for around 90 assisted-living retirement apartments and care bungalows on green belt land in Hoylake.

Applicant Graeme McGaffney wants to build up to 30 one and two bedroom semi-detached bungalows, and up to 61 apartments, along with a total of 90 car park spaces, on the site of the former Ellerman Lines Sports and Social Club.

The developer argues it would meet the needs of a growing older population, enabling people to downsize and creating “an affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly community”.

It claims the site does not provide a significant contribution to the green belt, would be “well-contained and screened from the view of sensitive visual receptors within the Green Belt, by existing vegetation” and that the existing housing around the site would “provide a clear distinction between town and country”.

Artists impression of the apartments

The application was submitted to Wirral Council on 30 September 2020, but the developer launched an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in January, arguing the target date for it to be determined had passed and they had failed to get an update from the local authority on when a decision would be made.

Margaret Greenwood believes the scheme has the potential to increase the risk of flooding in residential areas and would destroy part of the green belt and an important wildlife habitat.

In her letter to Mr Jenrick, she writes: “There has been no broad public debate on the merits and demerits of the application, and the majority of local residents would not be aware that a development of this scale is under consideration in this sensitive location.”

She goes on: “The site itself is a concern, being located on the other side of an industrial estate, beyond a level crossing that cuts the area off for approximately 20 minutes out of every hour at peak times. It is a matter of concern that there would be an increase in traffic at a location that already has access restricted in this way.”

Proposed layout of the site

A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: “The matter is now with the Planning inspectorate who will determine the appeal.”

Previous schemes in 2012 and 2013 proposing 62 homes, later reduced to 26 properties, were thrown out by the council and later dismissed by a planning inspector on appeal.

HISTORY OF THE SITE

1920 – Opens as the home of West Wirral Cricket Club

1952 – Site sold to shipping company Ellerman Lines and a social club is built

1970s – Cricket ceases and a nightclub opens which later burns down

2011 – Application for 62 affordable homes submitted and later refused

2014 – Plan for 26 affordable homes submitted and later refused

2020 – Bid submitted for retirement bungalows and extra-care apartments

2021 – Developer refers the application to the Planning Inspectorate

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