06 July 2010
developer Worksharp EcoHomes has been granted permission to build the 10
semi-detached houses on the former site of the Great Eastern pub by
Wirral Borough Council's planning committee. However, conditions
attached to that permission state that the development should include a
memorial explaining the history of the Great Eastern ship. The
memorial and its landscaped setting will have to be the subject of a
separate planning application, whilst the development of the new homes
cannot take place until this second application has been approved.
impression of the new homes)
In a debate
which lasted over an hour, NFRAG Chair - Mark Anthony Craig - severely
slated the planning system which had allowed the destruction of the
Great Eastern pub to take place, and the failure of the Council to seek
listed building status for the former pub before previous owners removed
the historic artefacts which had adorned it until the early 2000s.
Irene Williams also criticised the destruction of one of Wirral's
heritage assets, quoting a letter from Susan Nicholson of the
Bromborough Society which stated there was "an urgent need for greater
protection for Wirral's historic environment".
Williams and Mr Craig were both scornful that the new houses would be
built closer to the existing homes in Clipper View than national
guidelines recommended. The fact that a leylandii conifer hedge
divides the properties was quoted by the council officer explaining the
scheme to the committee as being "sufficient to act as a visual
barrier". The suggestion was that the leylandii hedge should be
protected by planning conditions preventing its removal ..... a move
which Mr Craig warned could make the Council a national laughing stock
if they went as far as slapping a preservation order on leylandiis.
also questioned the Council's commitment to sustainability, arguing that
if everyone is being asked to recycle everything, why could not old,
landmark buildings such as this be saved and converted to other uses
such as housing?
Councillor Phil Gilchrist - who opposed the application - queried the
detailing of the architecture of the new homes, a promise was made that
the materials used would be chosen to make more of a visual statement to
compensate for that previously made by the demolished pub building.
architect who spoke on behalf of the developer offered to consult with
community representatives to come up with a suitable design for the
memorial to the Great Eastern (ship) that must be erected on the site
infront of the new houses. He also informed the committee that the
so-called "affordable homes" had already been snapped up by a registered
social landlord to rent out to local people.
application was then approved, with 8 councillors voting in favour, 3
against and 1 abstension.
meeting, Councillor Jerry Williams, who is the current Heritage Champion
for Wirral declared his anger at having been prevented from speaking to
the committee about the fact that developers can simply walk into Wirral
and sweep away our heritage because our country's weak planning
legislation allows such things to happen. He warned that the loss
of the Great Eastern was a heritage disaster that will be seen as an
"open barn door" by developers to destroy Wirral's historic building
stock at will.
He went as
far as to demand that an enquiry should be held so that lessons can be
learned and Wirral can work out a way to protect its heritage assets.
Steve Niblock, who had to miss the committee meeting because he was away
at an LGA conference in Bournemouth - but had originally intended to
speak to the committee when it first met to discuss the planning
application at the beginning of June (that meeting was deferred until
today because a site visit had been called for) - was equally scathing
of the developer's actions. He said it was "outrageous that
developers can rape our heritage and knock something down when local
people had voiced their wishes through the 400+ named petition to save
the former pub building".
Niblock had been in favour of a sympathetic conversion of the pub to
houses. He said he was "bitterly disappointed" that the developer
had deliberately demolished the pub in advance of the committee's site
visit last week. However, he welcomed the fact that the developer
was willing to talk to local people about the proposed memorial, and was
hopeful that the community would get a "substantial piece of artwork
rather than a cheap piece of plastic screwed to a brick wall".