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Steve Parish

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Everything posted by Steve Parish

  1. That was difficult, Dizzy. I had to go to the effort of googling "Warrington UDP". January 2006. Unfortunately, that Plan was nearly completed when the Government legislated for the new Local Development Framework (the Core Strategy is the core document in the LDF), one of the arguments being that the old Plan system was inflexible. This was in the context of Regional Spatial Strategies, which the coalition government then abolished, leaving some uncertainty (and easier for developers like Peel and Satnam to argue for more land to be allocated to housing).
  2. It's not a "town centre blueprint". It's the planning framework for the whole borough, replacing the Unitary Development Plan. Every local planning authority has to have a "Core Strategy". With one, the Council has some control over development; without it, developers have the whip hand (and an open stable door...). Umpteen councils have had their plans judged "unsound" by planning inspectors, for various reasons such as not allocating enough land for housing, or simply not observing the "duty to cooperate" (with other councils and stakeholders). Partway through the process,the coalition government changed the whole planning framework and abolished regional housing allocations, so it's a remarkable achievement by our officers (with political support from all sides) to get this through. The only legal challenges likely are from developers who want more land (and particularly land they own) to be released for housing.
  3. Work starts a week on Monday.... The A57 Sankey Way / A574 Cromwell Avenue scheme involves: • Localised widening on Cromwell Avenue at the junction to improve pedestrian/cycle facilities; • Removal of the bus lane on Cromwell Avenue to improve flow for all traffic including buses; • Creation of a 4m shared use path on Cromwell Avenue for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists; • Renewal of the traffic signal equipment and underground ducting; • Widening of Peace Drive to provide a separate right and left turn lanes; • Resurfacing of the junction. The A57 Sankey Green Roundabout scheme involves: • Creation of a 4 lanes on the A57 Liverpool Road approach to the roundabout; • Renewal of the traffic signal equipment and underground ducting; • Resurfacing of A57 Liverpool Road and Thewlis Street.
  4. I'm not sure whether that was a deliberate sleight of hand - we wouldn't "consult" on change of use (just put up notices on lamp posts). I was talking about consulting on road improvements. It won't be change of use anyway, as the building will be gone; it would be a planning application for a new use on a cleared site.
  5. The Council bid a million. I think it went for a million and five thousand... I'm not sure whether the aim was to save the building or have control of the site. In the present financial climate we could probably get the capital funding for a "community resource" but not afford to run it. (Having been at DAD at the weekend the awful truth is that Walton Hall is a great resource but if then was now and Greenalls were offering it to us free now we'd turn it down as we could never afford to maintain it.) Part of the problem is rates on empty buildings (though there can be some relief allowed in special circumstances). Unlisted buildings that could be "recycled" are often demolished (or the roof taken off) to avoid paying rates - plus it's not easy to bring old buildings up to modern standards of insulation and low energy requirement. One of the planning issues for any new use will be that the existing night club use would have been off-peak (evenings) whereas offices or housing would inevitably put traffic into the Bridge Foot rush hour. That could be mitigated by section 106 agreements improving Bridge Foot - e.g. ease the bend round Mr Smiths which would no longer be there - but I think we'll certainly consult on that!
  6. I suppose it was predictable that somehow this would be the Council's fault... I didn't expect to get a reference to the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six.
  7. Assuming you mean Gainsborough Road not Loushers Lane, I think you'll find that's more or less the idea. A new crossing of the river north of Chester Road swing bridge into Arpley Meadows / Centre Park (relieving the Blue Bridge and allowing remodelling of Brian Bevan roundabout) and utilising Slutchers Lane bridge at least as an exit, thus relieving Bridge Foot. That's the best for now Until Network Rail agrees to build Arpley Chord * and remove the track through Arpley to Latchford sidings, so Arpley Meadows could have a direct exit near Bank Quay. * There's some movement at last from Network Rail after years of indifference (and expecting the Council to fund it all). I've had some involvement (a letter to two NR directors last August asking why it was so long delayed) but one factor is the government telling NR that they have to use their land and infrastructure to promote regeneration. (The chord would allow trains to Fiddlers Ferry to cut across into Arpley sidings and avoid the trains going to Latchford sidings where the engine changes ends. However, a non-nationalised rail industry brings its own risks - the "Ipswich chord" cost £50m to avoid freight trains reversing in Ipswich station then Freightliner said they weren't going to use it!)
  8. With this, I give up on this thread, as I can't be bothered countering nonsense. Stockport Borough has a population nearly half as many again as Warrington. Trafford - slightly bigger pop, 2 centres. Bolton - 25% bigger pop than Warrington, 2 centres Bury - bit smaller, 2 centres Tameside, bit larger, 2 centres Rochdale, same, 2 centres Oldham, bit larger, 1 centre Manchester, 2.5 times bigger, 3 centres In short, you might not like it, but (as the scrutiny committee decided) the decision to close Sandy Lane is "proportionate to the desired outcome".
  9. I don't admit that. I did say the scrutiny committee decision does not necessarily change the decision to close Sandy Lane.
  10. Is that a non sequitur? (No doubt Grey_man can translate.)
  11. It's in no-one's political interest to close facilities. But local council finances are in crisis (with northern councils bearing the brunt - why do millioniares in big houses in London pay less council tax than a band D house in Warrington?) so THERE WILL BE CUTS. In this case it was awkward to consult early as the Council only had one firm left interested in the contract (they didn't know they were the only one) - I actually voted against the referral for lack of "due consultation" simply as there was no legal guidance on how much consultation was "due". It's interesting to know nearby residents would like it closed (and it would not get planning consent there now).
  12. Don't "quote" things I haven't said. What on earth do you want? Scrutiny committee (with a Labour majority) refers it back (though as the chairman pointed out, it doesn't alter the decision) and you ask (in Latin) who's scrutinising the scrutineers. Very odd. There's only one in Liverpool; the others are in neighbouring boroughs.
  13. Having stood in for another councillor at the scrutiny committee, I'd rather not get into argument about the detail - but bottom line is that the cuts are now biting. We can consult all we like but if the result of consultation is "Don't save money by withdrawing this service" (or any other) then that's unrealistic. It will also obviously cost money to delay the new contract (say £9k a week). I didn't give much credence to the idea of keeping all three centres but staggering the opening days - it's hard enough keeping tabs on whether this week is blue bin or black bin. And I did resist reacting to the Lib Dem councillor who wanted residents to have two green bins - I could have pointed out that in my ward (Bewsey and Whitecross) most residents don't generate much green waste from their terrace house backyards.
  14. Am I missing something here? The Council's taken him to court (apparently he's now appealed to the Crown Court against the magistrates' decision) so unless you can suggest some other legal means to deal with it, don't be snide about the Council's actions.
  15. If you mean, who pays for the case to be heard, then the appellant does - at least the Council's costs. I doubt that takes account of officers' time - no actual cost but at the expense of delay in investigating other planning infringements.
  16. A bit of a postscript. I understand EH has delisted the farm house and buildings. It is a loss of a heritage asset (if it's demolished) but I think only the third or fourth listed building lost in the town in the last 25 years - not counting some that might have merited listing if not already dilapidated. Obviously more went in the 1970s (including Orford House) - I don't know what the justification was for allowing its demolition. As for Orford House, EH still have the house in their entry (I'm writing to tell them it's gone) - they have "Orford House" but "Chetham House entrance gates". Would anyone disagree that the gates should really be described as "Orford House" gates rather than Chetham House? List entry: Mid C18 house of medium size, standing in grounds, empty 1973 but apparently in good condition. 3 storeys, brick with stone base and strings, and "long and short" end quoins. New roof, stone eaves cornice with consoles. Gable ends roughcast. 4-panel door in moulded stone surround with pediment. 4 windows on ground floor boarded over, 5 windows on upper floors, lst floor ones 12-paned sashes, top floor casements; stone sills and lintels, and keystones. 2 stone gate piers with vases, and iron gates (all now restored).
  17. You could seek judicial review, but that has cost implications for the Council (even if we won in the high court, they could go to appeal). But I wouldn't mind challenging the Inspector's interpretation of paragraph 81 of the NPPF. This government says we'll cut red tape and reduce planning guidance (built up over half a century of test cases and legal judgments) - then the wording of the new reduced guidance is so imprecise that it needs a whole series of new test cases to work out what it means. E.g. NPPF #81 says local authorities "should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt" (e.g. with sporting facilities) - but the Inspector turns "should" into a "duty" so that may be a legally dubious leap (he doesn't seem to cite any precedents). Why should the authority plan for a clay pigeon shoot when the Inspector himself says that need hasn't been quantified for "a specialist type of sport that would not appeal to the population at large"? He says "The provision of clay pigeon shooting facilities appears not to have been considered at all, albeit that I am not fully aware of whether such need was promoted by relevant bodies in the consultation stages of the two Plans" - in other words no-one has ever suggested that the Council should plan for clay pigeon shooting but we should have planned for it anyway, which to me sounds stupid. What else didn't we plan for in the Green Belt? A ski-slope, paintball, segway route, tree walks - you can't plan for every possible outdoor pursuit for which there's no proven demand just to satisfy some ill thought out wording off the back of Eric Pickles' fag packet.
  18. The Council is virtually powerless in these instances. The government now penalises us if we refuse applications and can't sustain it on appeal. If a murderer wanted to build an extension and we thought we wanted to bury a body under it, this would not be a valid planning reason to refuse it. For the Cross Bar he still needs to meet buildings regs and get a premises licence but previous convictions for breaching fire regs is unlikely to be a barrier to that (though he might be refused a personal licence).
  19. After the fire (which could have been fatal) the owner applied to convert the CrossBar building into small B&B apartments with a dining room in the roofspace above the shops. He then built that roof lower than on the plans and said he wouldn't use it as a dining room. Two ground floor units were provided in the main building - one to be retail, one to be a bar, then both wrere advertised as retail. He now has applied to have the roofspace as a bar. Apparently it meets (or may be amended to meet) building regs but he's already making the alterations before getting planning consent (and has added a porch which isn't even in the plans). Access is by two staircases and a spiral staircase (which is not suitable as a fire escape route). The staircases are the regulation width (1.05m) but descend to narrower doorways. The applicant was convicted on 4 counts of breaching fire regulations. It seems it is not a planning reason to turn down an application just because the applicant has a record of not being bothered about any regulations, but I'll be inviting the committee to turn down the application on the issues of noise (there's an old people's home behind it) and parking and overdevelopment of the site, but primarily because I don't think we should be approving plans for a bar that, even owned by someone careful in these matters, might be a deathtrap (whatever the regs say).
  20. Most Network Warrington buses are under ten years old. And they either go to places with lots of customers (and make a profit, especially with less frequent services) or they go to more remote places "with hardly anyone on them" and when those services are threatened some on here think they should be run as a "public service", but without of course putting up council tax (or any other tax). Bah, humbug.
  21. Generally, you don't get gridlocked because of traffic lights (so long as they're working properly). They might delay how long it takes you to reach the next bit of jam. You only have to see the Mersey St / Church St roundabout to see how, without lights, thoughtless drivers can soon gum up a junction in all directions.
  22. It is a fine art. Roundabouts work well without lights up to certain volume, but then start to snarl up, and part-time lights (in theory at least) should help - but it might delay one route in order to free up another. As with the Bridge Foot new sequence and markings (after the initial cock-up over the remarking) - it may delay traffic coming from Wilson Patten Street but it helps traffic from the south which would otherwise snarl up that side, then back round the roundabout so Wilson Patten St would snarl up anyway. But we did have a major fault there last Tuesday morning and I've also seen the Cromwell Ave / A49 lights a few weeks back in the evening - I actually parked up and told queueing traffic on the A49 southbound that all the lights were on red and perhaps they might like to go through, but that's always dodgy encouraging people to go through on red! I did once personally clear an A49 tailback southbound when they'd coned off the Tesco turn - traffic using the middle lane didn't work the detector on the lights so the lights "thought" no-one wanted to turn right; I stood there for best part of an hour telling people to go past, turn right and go round the Lord Rodney roundabout and back. It cleared the traffic - then the workmen rolled up, took a big plastic tube that I'd seen lying there, waved it in front of the detector and hey presto the lights for Tesco turned green....
  23. We won't give priority to traffic leaving Tesco at the expense of through traffic. Before becoming a councillor I'd opposed (successfully) the plan to do away with the bus gate from Winwick St so Tesco could build an extra exit lane (the bus gate having been a condition of the original consent for store and stadium). (The officer promoting that has retired.) Having said that, when Winwick Road is static it could take two hours to get out of Alban Retail Park; the new junction going in will ease that problem but I am assured that exit from the retail park will still be secondary to keeping traffic moving on the A49.
  24. One thing we won't do is give priority to letting more traffic out of Tesco onto already-congested roads. Indeed, before becoming a councillor I opposed the plan to do away with the northbound bus gate from Winwick Street so Tesco could remodel the junction to give them an extra exit lane. (Putting in the bus gates was a condition in the first place.) However, when Winwick Road northbound is static, it could ta
  25. The lights at Cockhedge only operate when traffic has already built up - and stops the situation where traffic snarls up on the roundabout and blocks exits. At least that's the theory.
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