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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-31-03

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Formby Societies objection to the development of Shorrocks Hill

THIS is a copy of a letter that the Formby Civic Society (FCS) have submit in response to the proposed development at Shorrocks Hill, Formby.

"Formby Civic Society (FCS) would like to submit a response to the above development, the details of which are contained in the council's recently published proposed Modifications, Sustainability Appraisal and the Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Local Plan.

We are not commentating on the whole document; our concerns are centred on the Formby area and the site at Shorrocks Hill.

The site has many attributes which are important to our wildlife and to the local character of the area; it also helps to preserve part of Formby's past. Shorrocks Hill was once the family home of the Formby family who played an essential part in shaping the character and the natural environment of Formby. Part of the house still remains although it has changed considerably over the years. The Formby family were responsible for the planting of acres of woodland and avenues of trees which now provide numerous habitats for our most endangered species. The structure of the house still stands in grounds which are covered with a variety of mature trees; there is also an area of woodland to the west of the house known as Local Wildlife No 19 which has abundant undergrowth providing a wealth of supporting habitats. The owners say they have aerial photographs which show very little evidence of species habitation. Local people however disagree with this. Paint balling has probably caused disturbance to woodland species and been responsible for the loss of some wildlife on the site. Despite this the local community have seen numbers of red squirrels and hedgehogs in adjacent gardens and trees. Sites that support endangered species are considered a reason alone for avoiding further disturbance to their future survival.

MN214A lies in an area of Formby that is attractive and pleasant to locals and visitors alike. The benefits of areas like this are beyond question and irreplaceable. Their value to the survival of many species and to nature cannot be underestimated. It is within Sefton's green belt and satisfies 4 of the 5 purposes of the green belt.

It is surrounded by Sefton's unique coastal and dune system, which is regarded as an area of international importance. Many protections and designations have been established over the years under EU Special Protection and Birds Directive. The MN214A site is within 190m of 2 of these special designations, a SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and a Ramsar site. The area is Sefton council's responsibility and comes under their management. They are duty bound to enhance and protect the biodiversity of those sites that come under their control. To consider development of site MN214A would not be in accord with these regulations.

To our knowledge the council have refused previous requests for planning permission on the grounds that the site was too valuable in terms of nature conservation. We believe that this was a responsible decision by the council. The council's recently published Habitats Regulation Assessment includes explicit protection for this site. Concern is expressed towards the effect of a development on this site as being likely to result in an increase of 1% in Nitrogen inputs into the nearby SAC. Extra noise and light pollution from houses and cars it says would also cause considerable disturbance and loss of valuable species. Mention is also made of extra visitor pressure which is already a concern to those who manage the coastal areas, a situation which will obviously be exacerbated by the building of another 1,000 new homes in Formby which could mean an extra 2 to 3 thousand people in the area.

People love to visit the Formby coast and need the benefits it provides but a fine balance has to be kept so that it survives for future generations to enjoy, keeping this balance is an ever increasing challenge. By allowing any part of this unique coastline to be built on will weaken the safe guards that have protected it so well, leaving it vulnerable to other proposals for permission to develop within its boundaries. Site MN214A will mean an encroachment onto a part of the Sefton coast and an area that has value in terms of nature conservation; the consequences are very worrying and. show a possible relaxation of the regulations put in place to protect it.

On studying the HRA we would like to refer to a number of polices which we feel are relevant to our objections.

POLICY EQ2 Sets down the importance of new developments respecting its settings and the need to retain or enhance key views in the landscape, also that any development on the urban fringe should have a smooth transition into the countryside. FCS are concerned that the site proposals for 60 houses, a car park and toilet block will neither enhance the lovely wooded surroundings nor blend in with it. There will be a stark contrast between a wildlife site and rows of houses and cars.

POLICY EQ9 Says, loss or damage of existing trees or woodland on development sites should be avoided, trees that are lost should be replanted, and veteran trees are even more of a loss to wildlife and are irreplaceable. FCS believe that many trees will be lost in order to build the car park Trees on this site are around a hundred years old and are therefore of more importance. The absence of trees on this sight will have a detrimental effect on the whole landscape of this area.

POLICY MH1 Says Sefton's natural assets together with its landscape character should continue to contribute to the boroughs sense of place, local distinctiveness and quality of life, a hierarchal approach will be taken to the protection and enhancement of Sefton's natural assets, including ecological networks and green infrastructure. FCS say the proposals for this site do not conform in any way with the wording of this policy and that this well-known area of Formby will be changed beyond all recognition to residents and visitors alike. Its contribution as one of Sefton's natural assets will be nullified.

POLICY MH2 Says, developments that may cause significant harm will only be permitted in Local sites of conservation where the reason for and the benefits of development clearly outweigh the impact on the nature conservation of the site. FCS says, the proximity of this site to the local wildlife site will cause an impact on the habitats and continuing existence of endangered species who are resident there. Noise, light pollution and human activity close by could easily disturb the viability of the site. We are unsure that the benefits of a development on this scale will outweigh the impacts it will have.

FCS are aware that proposal MN2 14A in the Modifications Documents is at an early stage. We have seen that an HRA has to be carried out on this site. A thorough HRA investigation of the sites value to nature should then be able to be established. But FCS would like to point out that the council are saying they will carry out an HRA to enable this site to be "screened out "which will then mean that it will "not require further consideration", does this mean that its value has already been determined? If so it is of great concern. This site needs an independent appraisal and a thorough investigation; can we be assured of this? Will the statement in the HRA which says that proposals for site MN214A may result in a likely significant effect on a internally important site be acted upon.

In conclusion FCS does not feel that permitting a large scale development on this site is appropriate. The development will be outside the present residential boundary line of Formby defined by St.Lukes Road which runs in a straight line down its western edge. The march of urbanisation does not go beyond this boundary.

It is questionable if the site should all be designated as brown field; nearly 60% of it is undeveloped. The riding stables are very welcome and provide a much needed amenity due to the loss of many such facilities in Formby. The demolition of Shorrocks Hill is most regrettable, it was once an exclusive leisure complex and could have many worthwhile uses both privately or community based. FCS are aware that this site will be the subject of further consideration if it is included in the Local Plan but would urge the council to study the reasons in the replies they receive for the retention of this much loved area of Formby and why it deserves protection for its value towards the natural environment."
Mrs Y. Irving Amenities Secretary, Formby Civic Society.

We would love to know your views on this issue. Please email us to:- with your comments.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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