Eldonian planning row goes to appeal

Liverpool Council has a “moral responsibility” to help a community in the middle of a long-running planning row, it has been claimed.

For more than two years, proposals have gone back and forth over the future of the former Elaine Norris Centre on Vauxhall Road. The building – previously used as a sports centre – sits within the Eldonian Village and was previously subject to a plan for 75 new homes in March 2021.

Those designs were withdrawn, with a reduced submission for 39 houses and 29 flats in a four-storey building put to Liverpool Council’s planning committee last December. Despite being recommended for approval by local authority officials, councillors deferred the bid until a site visit could be undertaken.

Applicant Kersh Worral Commercial has now launched an appeal contesting the decision from last year, despite a site visit taking place this morning. Owing to the appeal, members of Liverpool Council’s planning committee were effectively left powerless to determine the application.

Kersh Worral Commercial is seeking to get approval for 26 one-bed units alongside three two-bed flats with associated parking and 39 houses, comprising two two-bedroom, 36 three-bedroom and one four-bedroom home. A report sent to councillors indicated the applicant will also seek an award of costs for what it described as “the unacceptable, unnecessary and unreasonably extended timeframe and delay undertaking the site visit and reporting the application back to planning committee.”

Despite this, committee members gave a full-throated objection to the plans. Cllr William Shortall said, “I’m not very happy with it. 

“It’s a terrible proposal and drives a coach and horses through our policies. We’re building in something we can be blamed for in the future. 

“Having no affordable housing is deplorable.” The Old Swan West member added how the council must consider the narrative it would construct among communities to back the plans.

He said, “This is sending out the wrong message to the citizens of the city. We’re not here for the developers.”

As the planning appeal had already been lodged, the committee was only able to advise how it would be minded to act, rather than making a firm decision.

Cllr Joe Hanson said the council must consider the residents at the heart of the appeal. He said, “This was a piece of land gifted to the community by the government back in the Thatcher days. That land was for social use and the dream for the Eldonian Village was for it to be an area from birth to grave.

“We have a moral responsibility to the Eldonian Village. We have an opportunity to send a signal to the Eldonian community that they are not alone, because it has felt like that for them for the past two and a half years.”

The plans have been met with short shrift by the Eldonian Residents Association back in December, with criticism lodged around the installation of private accommodation, rather than the land being repurposed for community use. A report considered by the committee said the plans were considered acceptable in planning terms.

However, chair Cllr Tom Cardwell, said the committee would be minded to reject the proposals should they have been able. He said, “This is a very disappointing development in every single aspect.”


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