Formby residents pack Labour-organised public meeting to discuss

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Formby residents packed into the Professional Development Centre on Friday evening for a Formby Labour Action Team-organised public meeting to discuss plans to demolish the Powerhouse and replace it with 62 new properties.

Details of the plans came to light last month when Bellway Homes held a public exhibition outlining their proposals.

Formby's Labour Councillors Peter Maguire, Catie Page and Nina Killen and MP Bill Esterson organised the meeting to give people directly affected by the plans the chance to air their views before the application is formally submitted to Sefton Council.

Among those who attended were Powerhouse owner Mike McComb who answered residents' questions.

Cllr Killen said: "We had an excellent turn out to the meeting, which just shows how many people are concerned about this application.

"Approval  was given by the planning committee in 2010 for the site to be converted into luxury flats, but now the original plans are to be scrapped, there are concerns about the new plans.

"Issues raised by residents included concerns about flooding, the access of the site by heavy machinery, the impact of the development on the existing community and the decision to create a road to the new housing via Park Road.

"My Labour colleagues and I made note of each of the questions which were raised by residents both during the meeting and afterwards and we will be putting them to Sefton Council to get the answers which are needed before any application is even submitted.

"Mr McComb himself went out of his way to answer as many questions as possible during the meeting and he made clear that he would make sure that he would make alterations to the plans to reflect the views of the community.

"Cllrs Page, Maguire and myself will be visiting the residents who have reported that they will be directly affected by the plans, particularly through the creation of the Park Road access to the site.

"The Formby Labour Action Team will ensure that we continue to keep everyone informed and we will continue to fight for the interests of the community."

Cllr Maguire said he was approached by residents who wanted to raise their own concerns about the plans.

Cllr Maguire said: "I live very near to the Powerhouse and I know that there is concern about the plans.

"Saying that, the Powerhouse has been a long running issue in this area, with regular reports of anti-social behaviour and flytipping. But we need to make sure that we aren't replacing one series of problems with a catalogue of others.

"Mr McComb gave assurances that he would make sure that he endeavour to design out the main issues which were raised, including the introduction of landscaping along the site and the installation of fences to protect people's privacy.

"He even told the meeting that he would ensure that those people worst affected by the development would be compensated."

Cllr Page said she would be speaking directly to Sefton's Head of Planning about the plans.

Cllr Page said: "We need to ensure that this application is in the interests of Formby and will not be to the detriment of this community.

"Sefton's planning department needs to look at these plans with the concerns of residents in mind.

"We need to know why Mr McComb has been advised to create a new access road to the site via Park Road and scrutinise any studies on just what impact the increase in traffic will have on the existing roads.

"There are many issue which we need to tackle before any decision is made on this application and we will make sure that the community is heard before the council's planning committee makes any decision."

Bill Esterson, who chaired the meeting, thanked everyone who came along to have their say.

Bill said: "The meeting had a very good turnout of people who either wanted to know more, or who wanted to have their say. I'd like to thank them all for coming along.

"I would also like to thank Mr McComb for also coming along and fielding questions directly.

"I know the Powerhouse site has been a problem for a number of years now. Residents complain that it has become an eyesore and a magnet for anti-social behaviour, flytipping, graffiti and there's even been complaints of drug taking. So we all want to see something done with this site, but it needs to be right for the whole community.

"It is interesting that 10% of the site, six properties, are allocated as 'affordable properties' and Mr McComb told the meeting that they will be handed over to a social housing provider. I want to make sure that that process is managed correctly and the community of Formby benefit. There are young people here who are wanting to get access to affordable property.

"I also want to see if the development encroaches on the greenbelt.

"What was clear is that there is a lot of conjecture about this development. People appear to want to be open and transparent about the plans. We need to make sure that it remains that way.

"If anyone has any questions or concerns about this application, please contact me directly or the Formby Labour Action Team and we will make sure you get an answer and that your concerns are addressed.

"This is a major development for Formby. We need to make sure that it is in the interests of Formby."

To contact Bill Esterson email bill.esterson.mp@parliament.uk or to contact Formby Labour Action Team email formbylabour@gmail.com


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