Over the last five months, a number of residents have been in touch regarding the possible sale of part of the former Mosslands playing fields to West Wallasey Fleethire Services, creating substantial additional vehicle parking space for the company.
In response to those enquiries, we have contacted various council departments to establish the facts and have also spoken with the Director of the company. An outline of the responses is in the timeline.
As shown on the two attached maps below, from two different departments, it appears that while one part of the Council (the Assets Management Team) has been in discussions to sell the land, another team, compiling the long-delayed Local Plan, has had the site inspected and is seeking to have it classed as Local Green Space.
From my conversation with the Director of West Wallasey, it was clear the company is seeking to expand and, in the process, finally deal with issues arising from their current sites on Leasowe Road and Wallasey Village. They have, in good faith, been discussing this with the Council.
However, it was only in October (when alerted by residents) that local councillors were alerted to this. Residents should also, I believe, have been notified sooner by the council that these discussions were taking place.
Since October, a number of residents living in Southbourne Road have been working on this issue, seeking information and answers on some of the points raised such as parking, access, flooding and green space designation.
The Council will decide on this proposal, firstly, at a meeting of the new Policy & Resources Committee. This committee will decide whether the land will be sold.
If it is agreed, it is likely that a planning application will then be submitted and this will be decided by a meeting of the Planning Committee. At the moment, no dates for either are confirmed.
If you would like me to keep you up to date (by email) with this issue - including when a decision is likely - please complete the form at the bottom of this page. We will also keep residents informed via our local social media on Twitter and Facebook.
If you have any comments in the meantime, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Lewis, local Conservative Councillor for Wallasey
Timeline (so far):
20 October: contacted by residents of Southbourne Road, seeking information on proposed sale of land.
23 October: Planning Department confirmed they had a pre-application enquiry in August 2019 for proposed car parking/vehicle storage for use by fleet hire business and a playing pitch for community use. The Council responded indicating that due to issues relating to the status of the open space (in the current Unitary Development Plan); its potential replacement and the parameters of the flood risk sequential test not having been satisfactorily resolved that an application for the proposal would not be supported at that stage. No further contact had been received by the Planning Department for this site.
26 October: the Asset Management Team at the Council confirmed that discussions are 'still ongoing with West Wallasey Van Hire'. They also advised it is a complicated transaction for a number of reasons but particularly in respect of accessing the site and also in terms of planning. There is also a timing issue in that an existent planning permission for access off the motorway link road may expire shortly.
26 November: the Asset Management Team responded to our further request and provided the map below showing the area of land being sought.
1 December: in response to a further request, the Asset Management Team advised: 'The areas that we (the council) own, but aren’t included, are the area leased to Forestry England, the allotments and the playing fields. The rest of the land there within our control is currently overgrown and is the subject of their request.'
6 December: the team preparing the Council's long delayed Local Plan (and successor to the old Unitary Development Plan) advised: 'The site has been subject to an independent assessment which has concluded it meets the criteria for designation as Local Green Space. On this basis, subject to Member approval the site is likely to be designated in the Regulation 19 Local Plan as Local Green Space. The Independent Inspector will consider the proposed designation as part of the Examination.'
Regulation 19 of the Local Plan process is the formal consultation of the Council's proposals. Wirral is not yet at that stage.
16 December: in response to our request for the status of the 2017 planning permission for access to the site from the North Wallasey Approach Road, the the Planning Department advised: 'Application reference APP/16/01407 was approved on 1 June 2017 by Planning Committee. Attached is a copy of the report (see below attached). If that permission was not implemented then it will have lapsed on 1 June this year (2020). I am not aware that we have had anything in since this application was approved in 2017. The application was for a proposed signalised junction to create a new access of the A554 into the West Wallasey Fleet Hire site. Highways colleagues may be able to advise if any discussions have been had around works in the highway to facilitate this but there is no requirement for the applicant to advise us as the planning authority that work has commenced/begun.'
11 January: Highways Department confirm they have checked this with the team and confirm that they have not received any further correspondence from the applicant on this matter.
14 January: I speak with the Director of West Wallasey Fleethire Services, outlining the concerns given by residents so far. In response, he lists the benefits for the community of the development, including removal of traffic from Leasowe Road and Wallasey Village; creating 300+ jobs and support to facilitate the upgrade of the Wallacre sports pitches to enable enhanced year round use.
6 February: I meet (virtually) with some of the residents in Southbourne Road to hear their concerns. Following that meeting, I was notified of their online petition.
8 February: the Council's Forward Planning Team starts consultation on the next two parts of the draft Local Plan - the Green Blue Infrastructure Strategy, which identifies the area as a 'Nature Improvement Area with specific recommendations for habitat creation' and as part of the flood zone in the Wirral Environmental Sensitivity Study
11 February: a brief update on this issue is included in our email bulletin to residents.
21 February: the Council's Public Rights of Way Officer advises there is no formally protected footpath through the fields.
24 February: letter from Councillor Ian Lewis to 500 nearby households to make them aware of the proposal