An independent planning inspector has turned down an appeal by Blueoak Estates against a council decision to reject plans for apartments overlooking Red Rocks in Hoylake.
An initial plan to demolish the existing detached house on the site and replace it with a curved glass structure 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’ – but this was also turned down by the local authority, prompting Blueoak to take the altered scheme to appeal.
Now, planning inspector Richard Morgan has judged that demolition of the house “would erode and dilute the integrity of the designated heritage asset, causing harm to the MDCA [Meols Drive Conservation Area] and the views into it.”
His five page report adds: “No compelling explanation has been provided as to why demolition and replacement is the only option. Other large properties along this side of Stanley Road appear to be in use as single family homes, and it is unclear why the appeal property could not continue to exist as such.
“Whilst I accept that such a contemporary scheme may be difficult to achieve through a conversion, it is for the appellant to explain why the existing building could not be converted into smaller units. In the absence of such information, the proposed demolition of the building and associated harm to the MDCA has not been adequately justified.”
He did accept that it “would provide a more efficient use of land in an existing built up area” and “contribute to meeting local housing needs, in an area with an acknowledged shortfall, and could be built out fairly quickly”, but concluded they would be “modest benefits”.
He said: “I have no reason to suppose that if the appeal were dismissed, the house would not be capable of remaining in use for its original purpose, as a family home. The public benefits would not, therefore, outweigh the irreversible harm to the character and appearance of the MDCA, to which I
attach great weight.”
Historic England, the Save the Red Rocks Association and Hoylake Conservation Areas Association were all against the scheme, and around 130 objections were received from neighbouring properties.
It appears that the house has recently sold, after being put up for sale last summer with a price tag of £1.4 million, and it is currently boarded up.
It is unclear if Blueoak Estates still retains an interest in the site – the developer refused to comment when approached by West Kirby Today.