Property developer Elliot Lawless has had a planning appeal for new student accommodation in Liverpool 8 rejected.
After months of waiting, the planning inspectorate has confirmed proposals for more than 180 student bedrooms and 105 apartments on Falkner Street cannot go ahead and backed Liverpool Council’s decision in March 2022 to reject the plans. The scheme was up before the committee for a third time having initially been discussed in December 2019.
During a new planning meeting last year, committee members moved against the council planning officers’ recommendation to approve the plans by Falkner Street Developments – of which Mr Lawless is a director – to build on the site of a former church and probation centre in L8. Despite the plans being recommended for approval, councillors said the application should be refused based on the lack of parking, and the detrimental effect on residential amenity.
This view was supported by planning inspectors who said there are “few opportunities to park on the street nearby, so increased demand for off-street parking could result in illegal or inconsiderate parking.” Assessing the overall parking and access to the site, inspectors said they were “unable to conclude that the proposed parking and access arrangements would be adequate, having regard to development plan policy and local parking standards.”
On the size of the development, inspectors said in overall terms additional movements by increased occupants “would not be significant in this area,” but there would be potential for the proposal to “generate noise and disturbance which could impact on immediate neighbours. Particular consideration needs to be given to the closest neighbouring residential properties, on Chancellor Court.”
Concluding, the inspectors said, “The benefits of the scheme are not sufficient to outweigh the inadequacies of the parking and access arrangements, and the lack of provision for off street open space and trees, through a signed planning obligation.” When the application was first lodged with Liverpool Council, Alastair Shepherd, planning agent, argued the plans represented a “really good, well thought out scheme” and would fit in with existing developments in the area.
The site on Falkner Street occupies two buildings which would have been demolished; a former probation centre built in the 1990s, and a former church built in the early 2000s, together with surface car parking. The probation centre’s services were transferred to another location while the church was closed in 2014 – 12 years after it opened.
Planning approval had previously been secured at the site in December 2019 subject to a section 106 agreement being entered into. The length of time to reach a decision was cited by inspectors in their determination.
The report said they “appreciate that this will be disappointing for the appellant, particularly given the protracted length of time involved in the determination of this proposal. However, on the basis of the information provided, the proposal would not comply with the development plan.”
The plans had been widely opposed by members of the L8 Community Land Trust. Speaking on behalf of the group, Sonia Bassey said: “We are delighted with the outcome and appreciate the planning inspectorate has validated our concerns regarding the proposals put forward by Elliot Lawless.
“Developments of this nature give no consideration to local residents and their requirement for affordable homes. It is those residents who are a priority to us.
“We have asked Elliot to speak to us about acquiring this site for community use, hopefully he will now talk to us.” The LDRS contacted a representative for Mr Lawless for comment.