A revised proposal to build apartments overlooking Red Rocks in Hoylake has been thrown out.
Planners at Wirral Council have concluded the scheme would have a ‘detrimental and irreversible impact upon the character, integrity and setting of the conservation area’.
It is the second time a plan to knock down Wirral Point, a detached house on Stanley Road, and replace it with luxury flats, has been rejected by the local authority.
An initial plan for a curved glass structure by Blueoak Estates was dismissed in December 2019, with an independent planning inspector later backing the decision.
The firm subsequently submitted a proposal for a more traditional scheme, and later revised it to reduce the number of apartments from nine to eight and lower the height and ‘building volume’.
However, this has not been enough for planning officials, who wanted the developer to go further.
A report prepared about the scheme includes comments from the council’s Conservation Officer who concluded the projecting bays, dormers and tall chimneys were ‘too bold and intense and would detrimentally alter the relationship with the character of the conservation area’.
In a letter to Blueoak, Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration and Place, Alan Evans, writes: “The Local Planning Authority always wants to work with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner but unfortunately, in this instance it has not been possible to secure amendments to the proposal, or conditions which could reasonably have been imposed, which would have made the development acceptable and it was not possible to therefore approve the application.
“The demolition of this dwelling, categorised as a Category B building within the Meols Drive Conservation Area Appraisal, would have a detrimental and irreversible impact upon the character, integrity and setting of the conservation area.
“The submitted Heritage Statement fails to adequately justify this demolition and the proposal is therefore considered to be contrary to Wirral Unitary Development Plan Policy CH2, Policy DI3 of the Hoylake Neighbourhood Plan and the relevant paragraphs of the National Planning Policy Framework.”
Historic England, the Save the Red Rocks Association and Hoylake Conservation Areas Association were all against the scheme, and around 130 objections had been received from neighbouring properties.
However the government’s advisor on the environment – Natural England -was satisfied that the development would not have a significant adverse effect on the Site of Special Scientific Interest at Red Rocks.
Blueoak Estates had wanted the scheme to be debated by the Planning Committee rather than being decided by officers under what is known as ‘delegation’.
It has told West Kirby Today that it intends to appeal the decision.
A spokeswoman told us: “We believe it is an appropriate proposal and as such will be pursuing an appeal against the Council’s decision to refuse.”
What happens next is also dependent on whether the site is sold – it has been up for sale since the summer with Bradshaw Farnham and Lea with a price tag of £1.4 million.
WIRRAL POINT – PLANNING PERMISSION TIMELINE
1980 – Permission is granted to change the use of the building from a nursing home to residential
2005 – Plans to convert the existing building into seven flats and construct a new building are rejected
2019 – Blueoak Estates submits plans to demolish the house and build a curved glass apartment structure, which is later thrown out
August 2020 – Blueoak Estates submits a plan for a more traditional design but continues to pursue an appeal against the decision to turn down the original plan
October 2020 – An independent planning inspector backs the council’s decision over the original design
January 2021 – Blueoak scales back the revised scheme and urges the council to let the Planning Committee make the decision
October 2021 – Wirral Council planning officers reject the scheme