News that Liverpool City Council has lost a planning inspectorate decision on the notorious Fox Street development has produced an angry response from me. I have now asked the Council’s Chief Executive, Tony Reeves, to intervene personally in discussing the decision of the Inspector, what the Council can do about it and why the Fractional Investment Task Group which was looking at issues like this and which had its first meeting 16 months ago and its last one 6 months ago has yet to issue its report.
In his letter Cllr Kemp said, “I find it absolutely unbelievable that the council has been unable to show that:
- An underground car park for 100 + cars was never built
- That dangerous cladding was used
- That the levels of building standards in the building were so low as to cause issues that could have led to loss of life
- That the S106 money which should have been paid, some of it in advance, was never paid.
- That no planning application was received for a change of use outside the original planning consent which converted residential use into short term tourist lettings to the detriment of the community.
Either the Council is at fault in the way that it prepared its case or the planning inspectorate is at fault for the way that they listened to it.
Either way the Council must act or Liverpool become an open target for developers who want to shirk their planning obligations to both potential building users and the community in which they are set”.
The full text of my letter to the Chief Executive is appended.
Liverpool City Council
Re: Fox Street Development enforcement appeal
I am sure that by now you will have been informed of the Council’s failure in the Fox Street Development appeal. In case you have not I repeat in its entirety the final paragraph of the Planning Inspectors decision:
Conclusion 5. For the reasons given above I conclude that the enforcement notice does not specify with sufficient clarity the alleged breach of planning control and the steps required for compliance. It is not open to me to correct the error in accordance with my powers under section 176(1)(a) of the 1990 Act as amended since injustice would be caused were I to do so. The enforcement notice is invalid and will be quashed. In these circumstances the appeal under ground (g) as set out in section 174(2) of the 1990 Act as amended does not fall to be considered. Formal Decision 6. The enforcement notice is quashed.
A A Phillips
I can only conclude that either the Council has been grossly incompetent in presenting its case or that the Inspector has been negligent in not considering these matters fully.
I have asked the relevant officers in planning and legal to provide me with a succinct account of what happened and what our possible steps are. On reflection, however, I believe that the issues here are so profound that I need to ask you to personally intervene in this review.
If we cannot adequately as a council, deal with life and death issues and major planning breaches in a competent way it will exacerbate the problems we have had in the City with second rate developers. So, in addition to the review I would also like to know how much Fox Street has cost us in terms of the 24-hour wardens, the enforcement costs and our legal costs to date.
I am also aware that it is now 16 months since the Fractional Investment Task Group had its first meeting and 6 months since it had its last one. It was precisely because of concerns about development like this that the Task Group was established. It is a major cause of concern to many of us that no report has yet been issued by the Council and I am minded to issue a report myself based on my conclusions if I fail to see a Council report on which I can comment in the near future.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
Leader, Liberal Democrat Opposition, Liverpool City Council