Beechwood bungalows approved

Two bungalows on an estate will be built despite parents’ fears a lost greenspace would leave their children “trapped indoors.”

The two bungalows are planned for an area of land off Fifth Avenue on the Beechwood Estate. The area is currently used as an unofficial playground by the local community as it is in full view of their houses.

Council officers recommending it for approval said, “The proposal is acceptable in principle. The proposal is considered to be of a scale and design that is acceptable to the character of the residential area and provides space for recyclable waste storage and collection.

“There are no significant impacts on the amenities of neighbours on every side. The proposal is not considered to result in loss of outlook, privacy, daylight or sunlight to neighbouring properties.”

It was approved unanimously by a 14 September planning committee but 88 people and Bidston and St James councillor Liz Grey were against the application going ahead due to parents’ fears of losing the green space as the area “suffers significant antisocial behaviour and gang crime.”

According to police crime map data, there were 136 crimes committed in the Beechwood Estate area from May to July 2023.

Cllr Grey said, “Residents do not allow children out to play if they cannot be seen from the window and this space is clearly visible from local houses. They will not allow children to play further away such that they will be trapped indoors.”

At the meeting, Cllr Grey said there had recently been a machete attack on the estate and numerous shootings on the estate. She said, “Innocent residents have been caught up in the gang violence, innocent people have been shot and local people live in fear.

“They do not want their children playing out where they cannot see them directly.”

At the meeting, she said people really valued this visibility “for security and peace of mind” in “the most troubled of neighbourhoods” adding, “There are goalposts on the greenspace, there are goal posts in every photograph.

“It’s a football pitch for local kids, its a play area, the site of an annual community bonfire and it’s even a space used for a giant community paddling pool.”

While she said people in the area had to “deal daily with the threat of violence,” Cllr Grey added, “Most of these residents are honest, law-abiding and hardworking and they understandably worry like mad about their kids.”

Cllr Grey also said neighbours believed the site couldn’t be developed because of existing United Utilities pipes under the site and asked the committee “to protect this small but vitally important green space.”

When asked about the nearby Little Centre and other green spaces nearby, Cllr Grey said people didn’t want their children playing out of sight and the centre wasn’t always open.

Cllr Kathy Hodson praised the officer report, adding, “It’s nice to see bungalows built because you don’t see them very often.” Cllr Steve Foulkes said the committee also had to look at the facts as the site was in a residential area and not protected greenspace, adding: “There is a need for elderly housing and the bungalows provide for that.”

Councillors also criticised the comments by Cllr Grey made about crime in the area. Cllr Brian Kenny said, “I wouldn’t want people to get the impression that this area is an area where everybody goes round engaging in crime and antisocial behaviour. The vast majority of people are not like that.”

However, chair of the committee Stuart Kelly said, “I think the point was made by the petitioners with the vast majority that was put to us. I don’t think it’s just entirely painted this is going to be the end of the world in terms of antisocial behaviour if the green space is lost.”

The bungalows might still not go ahead as the site has a public sewer running under the proposed driveway but this wasn’t something that could be considered by the committee when granting approval.

The planning report said United Utilities has “stated that they will not allow building in close proximity to a water main,  public sewerage or wastewater pipe.

“The agent is aware of this as a copy of a United Utilities letter has been forwarded onto them. The relationship between the proposed development on United Utilities assets, property and infrastructure is a matter between United Utilities and the developer. ”

Image: The green space on Edgemoor Close, Beechwood. GOOGLE

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