Keeping Everton in Our City

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 Post subject: ENQUIRY WEEK 6 - DAYS 21-24
PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:23 pm 
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Day 21 – Double Speak, Smoke and Mirrors
Mr. Lancaster, counsel for the combined authorities, continued his cross-examination of Mr. Halman, expert witness for KMBC on planning matters.

Mr. Lancaster established that while Bootle was 2nd priority behind Liverpool and Manchester, it comes above Kirkby in Regional Development Framework 1. It is an inner area and within Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI) area. Mr. Halman agreed that those two factors would need to be considered. Mr. Halman also agreed that any harm to St. Helens would be a relevant factor. When asked if the proposed development at Skelmersdale would harm Kirkby, one that is deemed of an appropriate size and conforms to planning policy, Mr. Halman answered that, whilst he agreed that the correct planning procedures had been followed and that KMBC had never objected to the SDP for Skelmersdale, he could not say that the suggested development at Skelmersdale would not affect Kirkby as there was no planning application yet and the assessment of harm had not been done. Mr. Halman continued by explaining that all developments needed to avoid harm to existing centres; this was clear in planning policy.

Mr Halman agreed with Mr. Lancaster that the redevelopment project for Skelmersdale was for 33,000 sq m, compared to 50,000 sq m at Kirkby but pointed out that the difference in size was due to the fact that Kirkby, a larger centre then Skelmersdale, did not have a major food store. Much has been made of this but it should not be forgotten that Skelmersdale is, by comparison, relatively isolated and that Kirkby, whilst nobody could argue that it doesn’t deserve a major food store in the town centre, is in close proximity to the Asda store at switch island and would have been in close proximity to the proposed Tesco store at Stonebridge Cross if KMBC hadn’t objected to that development on the grounds that it would have had a detrimental affect on Kirkby Town Centre.

Planning Inspector Mrs Wendy Burden asked for the population figures for Skelmersdale and Kirkby, Mr Lancaster informed Mrs Burden that the population of Skelmersdale was 39,279 compared to Kirkby’s 40,006. Meaning that those 727 extra people residing in Kirkby appear to require an additional 17,000 sq m, or in percentage terms an additional 51% of retail space over that proposed for Skelmersdale.

Mr Halman conceded that the proposed catchment area for Destination Kirkby was more extensive than had been suggested in the recently adopted Unitary Development Plan (UDP), which, in his opinion, had proved to be insufficient to deal with Kirkby’s problems. He once again reiterated the need for critical mass and a new approach.

Mr. Peter Fisher, Knowsley Constituency Liberal Democrats, (KCLD) was next to cross-examine Mr Halman. Mr. Fisher asked, “Has enough consideration been given to the concerns of local residents?” Mr. Halman agreed there had been concerns and explained “all representations and objections had been laid out in the report given to councillors from officers, along with measures to address those concerns.” Mr. Fisher put it to Mr. Holman that the objection to the stadium, obtained from the consultation was 93% but no weight was given to the consultations. Mr. Holman agreed that there was significant opposition to the stadium from the residents and significant local concern; however, the planning officers needed to take into account the needs of the whole borough. Mr. Fisher, put it to Mr. Halman that Local Authorities have a moral duty to listen to and accept the views of those whom it represents therefore no significant weight can be given to the consultation.

Mr. Fisher then asked why is there a need for more retail floor space than was recommended in the UDP? Mr Halman explained “the evidence base for the UDP related to evidence provided by Chesterton in 2002, this was not robust and was now out of date.” He went on to explain that research, conducted more recently, had shown that there was in fact more scope for retail than had been identified at the time of the previous report, that KMBC had been attempting, unsuccessfully, to attract investment prior to the adoption of the UDP and that in the view of the Council the previous proposals were appropriate at the time but new research indicated that more was needed.

To the casual observer it appears incredible that a council who, after years of research, consultation and meetings, adopted a unitary development plan one year and then began considering a proposal from a developer the following year that appears to run the proverbial coach and horses through that plan, how could someone get the retail requirements so wrong, wrong by a factor of over 300% at least.

Mr. Fisher’s next question surrounded the Knowsley planning meeting at which the application was approved, “Was the three minute time limit on members of the public who wanted to address the planning committee on these proposals acceptable?” Mr Halman explained “this was not unusual and there needs to be a time limit if a lot of people want to speak.”

When Mr. Fisher asked what he meant by Knowsley being well connected, he replied that its connections with the main route network were a “broadly based concept”
When asked how this development would affect people in Halewood Mr Halman explained that it would “flow and spin out”. People could choose to avail themselves of the facilities. Mr. Fisher then reminded him that the stadium would impact on the Kirkby, not Knowsley, Kirkby.

Mr Fisher then asked, “Why didn’t earlier redevelopments planned for Kirkby never materialised? Does this put aspects of this development in doubt? Mr Halman explained that the applicants were big players with a clear commitment to implement the scheme if planning permission was granted. He said he did think the current economic conditions would affect this explaining that there were elements of the proposed scheme that depended on the market and that the critical mass was needed to attract interest and investment that would ensure the later phases would be delivered.

Mr. Tony Barton, on behalf on KRAG, cross-examined Mr. Halman. Tony asked why this 'once in a lifetime opportunity' had been presented with so little consultation? Mr. Halman responded that communities often have problems accessing documents. Tony put it to him that perhaps a scale model would have been a good idea.

The results of the consultation document revealed that out of the people who responded, 40% wanted regeneration of the existing town centre, not this new approach, and only 20% were in favour of the new approach. Another 40% didn't bother responding. Therefore, it was not a popular development. Is consultation about being informed but not having a say? Mr.Halman replied that was what representation was for. Tony responded that we haven't been represented properly. Mr. Halman concurred that that large elements of the community are unhappy but it is the largest consultation exercise this council has ever done. He said the elected members should take account of the opinions of the voters but they then had to take a view based on a lot of other factors. He said consultation was a crucial part but there were other factors here that would affect the decision of the members, who had, after all, been elected by local residents. When Tony put it to him that a figure of 93% objections should not have been ignored by the officer’s report and their views disregarded, Mr. Halman didn't agree. He stated that there had been amendments, conditions and mitigation proposals and that the Council wanted to take forward a development that they think will be in the best interests of local people.

Tony asked why the stadium was not even a question on the "Your Kirkby, Your Future" questionnaire. Mr.Halman agreed that it hadn’t been included in the tick boxes but explained that it was clearly on the Ariel view, it was clear that it was part of the new proposal.

Tony asked if it was mere coincidence of this coming together, of Everton’s need and Tesco's philanthropy, he was told “such a convergence of key drivers, with resources available to make something happen and the land available was unique” Tony continued, what about the material harm? What about the Kirkby lock down on match days? Mr. Halman said he understood concerns but it is a mitigating factor. Tony asked why they keep getting the same stock answers? This project was going to cause material harm to people’s lives, day and night, old and young. Mr. Halman didn't accept there would be any material harm, he explained that it was about finding a planning balance in these situations, there would always be an impact in any development and it was the job of the planning process to balance the benefits with any harm to the greater good of the majority of people. Mr. Halman went on to state, “ I agree the impact of the stadium on match days was a significant factor but this impact, on certain days of the year only, had to be balanced with the significant gains the proposal would bring but, that said, he did not wish to underestimate the concern of local people.”

Tony then enquired about planning policies “Do planning polices have to be adhered to or do they simply have to be interpreted?” In an Orwellian response Mr. Halman replied, “It was a question of defining and interpreting planning policies and trying to find the right way of applying them; the point of the public inquiry was to determine the correct interpretation of those policies.” We’re glad that’s been cleared up then.

Dave Kelly of the Keep Everton in Our City campaign commenced his cross-examination of Mr Halman. Dave asked “would Mr Halman have advised Knowsley Council differently if he had been in place earlier?” Mr. Halman responded that he wouldn't change anything and was comfortable with the conclusions that the Council had reached.

Dave then asked a question concerning elements of the proposals that did not comply with development plan policy. Mr. Halman responded by saying that broad compliance was relative, but he agreed he had highlighted the elements that did not comply

Dave then asked why Everton supporters, as stakeholders, had not been consulted; Mr. Halman explained that this was outside the councils remit, they could not consult beyond the local population, that Everton supporters had obviously known about this for a while and that this inquiry was their chance, they have an opportunity now.

Dave next asked how this will address deprivation, “how have such developments addressed deprivation in Huyton and Prescot?” Mr. Halman explained that it will retain shoppers, there will be employment opportunities and it will keep a mobile and active workforce, although he couldn't provide figures but there would be benefits to Kirkby.

Dave then asked about the lost running track, boxing club and velodrome, he was told this was were dealt with by the UDP.

Asking a question concerning the re-routing of the brook that ran alongside the proposed site was told that enhancements would be made.

Moving on to the stadium Dave asked what Mr. Halman meant by saying the new stadium would be better than GP. He was told that Goodison Park’s deficiencies would be designed out. Dave then asked if it was Knowsley’s responsibility to provide a better stadium for Everton Football Club Ltd, Mr. Halman stated that it was not KMBC’s responsibility to deliver a new and better stadium for Everton but that “it was accepted that Liverpool and Everton played an important part in the sub-region and the opportunity to provide this improved facility had arisen.” Asking Mr. Halman if Everton could stay at Goodison Park, he conceded that it was an option but it would damage the future prospects of the club.
Moving on to the existing Town Centre, Dave asked Mr. Halman to expand on what he meant by saying the Town centre is busy, others say it is under performing, Mr. Halman explained that it had no night-time economy and the shops were the bargain end of the market; Dave put it to him that the un-gated part was as well used as Huyton or Prescot, Mr. Halman explained that he was unfamiliar with those areas night-time economies, but restated once again that Kirkby's was practically non-existent.

Dave suggested to Mr. Halman that he may have reservations about design but Mr. Holman’s response was that he didn't think the design was unacceptable. In closing Dave asked about the fact that surveys had been done on protected species yet none had been done on those residents who face the threat of CPO’s; why was this? Mr. Halman wasn't sure what he meant by surveys.
Mr. Roger Lancaster, counsel for the combined authorities, introduced the first witness to appear for the Combined Authorities Objectors, Mr. Keith Nutter, a town planner and an expert on retail and leisure developments.

Mr. Nutter explained that in a planning application it is not up to the applicant to demonstrate need; this was the Local Authorities role. Mr Nutter detailed why he thought these proposals contravened current planning polices.

He went on to say that scale was still an important matter under the draft Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) which states that “if a proposal was on the edge of a town centre, it must be of an appropriate scale, in terms of its role and catchment area.”

Mr. Nutter next explained that the policy stated a development needed to be flexible to respond to changes in the economy and that was why proposals should be taken through the Development Plan process and that these retail proposals were inconsistent with the scale and function of Kirkby town centre, both for comparison and convenience goods, and that it would have an affect on the vitality and viability of other centres in the region, which would again conflict with planning policies.

Mr. Nutter continued, “The current policies sought to concentrate comparison shopping in the 26 key centres of the region. Post development, Kirkby will leapfrog St. Helens and Birkenhead in the retail hierarchy and move Kirkby next to Southport in the retail hierarchy. It will also move Kirkby from 12th to 5th and Skelmersdale will move from 13th to 7th.” His opinion was that he thought the size of the development exceeded the needs of the local community and stressed again that taking the town higher up the retail hierarchy was in contravention of planning policies. He pointed out there is the need to enhance the roles of Birkenhead and Bootle over Kirkby.

Moving to the technical definition of the type of development this application represents, Mr. Nutter explained that the front door of the Tesco store, being more than 300 meters from St. Chads, is out of centre, although some elements are edge of centre. He explained the policies that regulate and define what is an edge of town centre development. He said the distance from the northern edge of Cherryfield Drive and the doorstep of the new Tesco would be 293 metres, making it edge of centre.

Mr. Nutter’s opinion was that a store of the size applied for was inappropriate and thought that the needs of the local people could be met by a smaller store. He stated “critical mass was not backed up by planning polices.”

Mr. Nutter stated, “A 9,000sq m store would meet the needs of the community.” It should be noted that Tesco has applied for a store of over 15,000sq m and that the whole application is for 50,000 sq m. Mr. Nutter continued, “there is no policy which supports moving Kirkby above Prescot or Huyton, this application would be in conflict with the current UDP. Prescot would be the more obvious centre, given the larger population in the south of the borough. This is not sustainable, getting people to come to Kirkby in cars.” He continued by stating that his research had indicated that the possible retail catchment area for Kirkby was Zone 1, essentially the town itself, was the most sustainable, realistic and robust assessment of where people will come from to shop in Kirkby. It was clear that the development was far too big for the needs of the people of Kirkby and that there was no evidence presented to convince him that the size was needed to compete as opposed to the St Modwen development at Skelmersdale that was designed to meet the needs of local people.

He continued “ the population of Kirkby is approximately 40,000, the applicants had suggested that the development would attract six times this amount to shop in the town; this was clearly unrealistic and unsustainable and described the applicants’ method of determining the catchment area as simplistic.

He said he could not see how these proposals would help change the fortunes of the existing town centre and felt that the development was designed to meet the needs of the retailers, not the local residents.

Mr. Nutter closed by explaining that he did not object to Kirkby having another food store, it was the scale that was a problem. He finished by saying that the two existing stores in Kirkby Town Centre, Somerfield and Netto, had a combined floorspace greater than that available at Skelmersdale.
Mr. Patrick Clarkson, QC representing Tesco, began his cross-examination by asking Mr Nutter if the councils he represented accepted the fact that there was deprivation in Kirkby that would be addressed by these proposals; that jobs and increased economic activity are advantageous. Mr. Nutter replied that yes it would create jobs in Kirkby but it needed to be weighed against losses in other areas and he wasn’t sure how it would tackle the other causes of deprivation.

Mr. Clarkson accused the councils of being aware that Kirkby has problems but that they wanted to keep it as it was; refusal of this scheme would mean that KMBC would have to start again. Mr. Nutter replied that it was the scale that was the problem, the proposal being in total conflict with the UDP and its impact on established centres, and a concern surrounding the ability of the proposals to be sustainable in regenerating Kirkby.

Asked if the councils had a view on the relocation of EFC, Mr. Nutter replied that they did not.

Mr. Clarkson wanted to know why Skelmersdale was being allowed to develop, contrary to policy, while Kirkby was being kept under water. Mr. Nutter replied that Skelmersdale was developing in line with policy, unlike Kirkby.

Mr. Clarkson then asked, “Could the same approach to the Regional Spatial Strategy adopted in Skelmersdale be suitable in Kirkby?” Mr Nutter replied that Skelmersdale was being regenerated through the development plan process, it was not opportunity driven. When he stated that Kirkby would jump from 411 places up the hierarchy Mr. Clarkson replied “that’s wonderful for Kirkby, wasn't it?” Mr Nutter replied that it was not for other centres.

Questioned on the Unitary Development Plan Mr. Nutter agreed that the UDP did not specify that Kirkby remained at the same level as Huyton and Prescot the policy “sought to maintain the three centres in their role in the retail hierarchy.” Mr Nutter said the combined authorities were not saying Kirkby should stand still; there was a need for investment of an appropriate scale that met the needs of Kirkby and not the needs of a much wider area, but this would not be done by putting a major development on land away from the town centre, surrounded by car parks. Development should concentrate on the Town Centre.

Mr. Nutter also stated that there was no linkage between Prescot Town Centre and Cables Retail Park. He restated that there could be another food store in Kirkby, competition would be a good thing. Mr. Clarkson was pleased to note that Mr. Nutter said that he didn't see Liverpool One being affected by this development

It was put to Mr. Nutter that people from Rainhill would come to Kirkby, which surprised him. He replied that if you built the Trafford Centre in Kirkby, people from Southport would come. The bigger the development, the bigger the catchment; and went on to say that this proposal was 'a classic retail park design'. Warrington and Wigan have both taken trade from St. Helen's, this is acceptable as they are sub regional centres. St. Helens shouldn't have to compete with Kirkby as well.

Mr. Clarkson asked if there would be any increase in the catchment area for the Skelmersdale proposals? Mr Nutter agreed there would be an increase in inflow but by a very small amount, and he agreed there was no problem with attempting to increase a catchment area based on research into where local facilities were drawing their trade.

Mrs Burden closed the inquiry for the day.


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Day 22 – LCC confirms Loop site is suitable
Mike Birchnall M.B.E of Liverpool City Council informed the inquiry that this is the first time in 30 years he has been at a public inquiry opposing a neighbouring council.

He stated that Liverpool City Council would prefer the Everton to stay in Liverpool but ultimately the club is responsible for it's own destiny. He said that Liverpool City Council believe that major schemes such as Destination Kirkby should be brought forward through the development plan process. He said if permission was given for Destination Kirkby, it could set a precedent for other schemes to ignore the plan led process.

It was said that the development Liverpool One returned Liverpool to the same position of where it was in terms of retail in the 1950s and 60s and that the council want to protect that.

Birchnall stated that LCC do support regeneration in Kirkby, but they feel that this development is too big for a town of its size and requirements. They say that any regeneration should be to a smaller scale and fitting in with the Unitary Development Plan (a pre-existing planning framework).

He stated that the cost of Merseytram cost has increased, it was estimated at £328million in April '08. The Secretary of State Ruth Kelly has previously suggested there is a possibility of funding but so far nothing has come of it.

It was suggested that Everton Football Club are only prepared to look at sites with potential for a subsidy from retail enabling to the tune of £50million. Mike Birchnall confirmed that there were no sites available in the city boundary that could provide the level of retail space desired by the club.

Mr Birchnall did say that Liverpool City Council would happily work with club if an alternative plan for a stadium was brought to the table.

David Clarkson QC, cross examining on behalf of the applicants wanted to know what Liverpool City Council's position is with the club attempting to relocate to Knowsley.

Birchnall confirmed that there was no problem with that but shared his concerns with the inquiry about the club's ability to raise the money needed.

When Mr. Clarkson put it to Mr. Birchnall that regeneration was needed and that the proposed Destination Kirkby could deliver on this, Mr. Birchnall responded 'at what cost?'. He stated that jobs will be lost elsewhere as a direct consequence of the development.

Mr. Clarkson wanted to establish what Liverpool City Council's attitude is to losing a business with a turnover of £51million. He wanted to know whether Mr. Birchnall thought that Goodison Park was inadequate for Everton's ambitions? Mr. Birchnall agreed that it was in its present condition.

He asked whether Liverpool City Council support Knowsley Council's attempts to regenerate Kirkby? Mr Birchnall said that they do but that the current plan would fail to achieve that.

The applicant's QC then asked if Liverpool City Council officers had offered to assist in funding a stadium for Everton. He was told that they hadn't.

Mr. Clarkson then put it to Mr. Birchnall that “there is a body at this inquiry which wishes Everton FC stay in the city”, Clarkson commented that Liverpool FC are staying in the city with the council's consent. He also wanted to know why Liverpool FC club were unable to find an alternative site in the city before applying for permission to build on public parkland. Mr. Birchnall replied that their criteria was to be as close to their existing stadium Anfield as possible.

Clarkson asked if the Bestway site on Scotland Road was an appropriate site for a stadium, Mr. Birchnall replied that it wasn't for Liverpool FC because they wished stay near Anfield.

Mr Birchnall confirmed that a stadium could be built there with supporting land and overcoming challenges.

It was brought to the intention of the inquiry that the Stanley Park stadium application was supported by Government advisers CABE if the surrounding area were to be regenerated.

Clarkson then asked about a Liverpool City Council meeting of 4th June 2008. He wanted to know who was there and whether it was usual for members of the public to speak at similar meetings. Mr. Birchnall replied that it was .

Clarkson then established that Warren Bradley (Leader of city Council) and Joe Anderson (Leader of Liverpool Labour group) were very influential members of Liverpool City Council and both were season ticket holders at Goodison Park. He also stated that the council leader Warren Bradley had previously spoken from the platform at a KEIOC meeting.

Mr. Clarkson asked Mr. Birchnall what KEIOC's chairperson Dave Kelly had addressed the committee on, he suggested that it was not to do a retail analysis.

The applicant then questioned whether Warren Bradley had put alternative sites forward for a new Everton stadium, it was confirmed that he had. Mr. Birchnall was asked if this was the formal position of the council. He replied in the negative but pointed out that members can make their personal views known publicly.

It was established that Tesco had no problem with Liverpool City Council wanted to regenerate North Liverpool, Mr. Clarkson wanted to know what level of regeneration Mr. Birchnall envisaged for Kirkby. Mr. Birchnall replied that his approach would be to look at opportunities and develop a master-plan. He pointed out that Knowsley Council had not done this and should have been more proactive with compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) and marketing.

It was now time for Knowsley Council's representative Mr. Barrat to cross examine. He established that Liverpool City Council saw Kirkby in the third tier of towns importance. Birchnall suggested that Kirkby has not functioned as a town centre for many years and he agreed that it is under performing.

It was also agreed that there are deficiencies with Goodison Park but that Liverpool City Council are not putting forward alternative sites for a new stadium to the Secretary of State.

It was pointed out that there is a danger in equating regeneration with jobs.

The inspector Wendy Burden asked if, when writing report, should she give weight to the fact that this had not gone through the Local Development Framework, Mr. Birchnall suggested that weight should be added.

Mark McVicar of Cushman and Wakefield (a commercial expert) was introduced by Liverpool City Council's QC Mr. Sauvain as the next witness. He told of his concerns about the local traders and how the majority of local traders' leases on their premises would be ending within the next 5 years. He also suggested that the smaller supermarkets in the Kirkby area would close if Tesco's development were to go ahead as it is not unusual for the smaller supermarket to close in similar circumstances.

He voiced concerns that the existing town centre would not be upgraded or if it were it would not be until the accompanying retail park were to be built. He also told the inquiry that he believed Tesco paid over the odds for the existing town centre and he considered it was because it would prevent commercial rivals taking an interest in Kirkby.

Mr. McVicar moved on to discuss the Everton stadium. He did not understand why the stadium was being built to a specification of 60,000 capacity when the stadium would only hold 50,000 seats. He also questioned how the funding for the stadium would be found as he felt it would be derived from land values and he felt that this could be considered “state aid” as Knowsley Council would be handing over millions of pounds to a private company.

Mr. Clarkson then cross examined Mr McVicar about the stadium. He wanted to know why he believed Everton would not fill the stadium at Kirkby. The response Mr McVicar gave was along the lines of there is no season ticket waiting list for Everton at Goodison Park and that the average attendance at Goodison Park was several thousand lower than capacity and therefore didn't see the need for the proposed stadium's capacity. Mr. Clarkson stated that Liverpool FC's proposed stadium will have a capacity greater than 65,000.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:24 pm 
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Day 23 - Destination Kirkby - Development too big for Kirkby's needs
The day began with Cushman and Wakefield's commercial matters expert Mark McVicar being cross examined by Mr Clarkson representing his clients Tesco and Everton.

Mr McVicar began by apologising to the inquiry because of an error in his proof of evidence, he had calculated the cost per seat using the stadium's potential capacity figure of 60,000 and not 50,000. This meant that the cost per seat was slightly higher than he had originally anticipated.

Mr Clarkson continued his questioning of Mr McVicar but this time it had more to do with the retail aspect of the development.

The applicants wanted to know how much of a threat Mr McVicar considered the Destination Kirkby plan would be on Liverpool One development in Liverpool city centre. Mr McVicar said it would have an affect as Tesco were hoping to encourage people to spend money in Kirkby. He also stated that Liverpool One had a positive effect on the city centre.

The matter of critical mass of retail arose and it was deemed unnecessary by Mr McVicar. It was said that Kirkby town centre as it currently stands can not attract larger commercial brands such as Marks and Spencer and that fellow retailers would not be attracted to Kirkby unless an anchor such as the aforementioned store was in place.

It was stated that Development Securities were interested in developing the existing town centre in partnership with Asda but Knowsley Council didn't feel the plan was right for Kirkby and they didn't believe the developer was fully committed.

Mr McVicar made the point that just because Tesco own the existing town centre at present, they may not always own it. He seemed to suggest that there was more interest in developing the land south of Cherryfield Drive than enhancing the existing town centre.

He reiterated that Kirkby should be encouraged to redevelop but on a less scale more fitting to the town's existing needs.

It was now time for Knowsley Council's counsel John Barrett to cross-examine Mr McVicar. Mr Barrett wanted to see the exclusivity development between Asda and Development Securities and asked whether Mr McVicar could obtain it for him. Mr McVicar told him it may be possible but it is unlikely as it is probably commercially confidential.

Mr Barret said that Development Securities' Plan A was to work with Tesco and Plan B was to work with Asda but Mr McVicar knew little about this and stated it was not unusual for developers to be having talks with more than prospective partner.

Mr McVicar, like most people believe that the retail park development would do very good business but he felt in the current economic climate it could challenge or impair the existing local traders in the town centre.

Knowsley's counsel then compared the areas Skelmersdale and and Kirkby. He referred to a report that Mr McVicar's company had prepared stating Skelmersdale must increase the amount of retail floor space should they wish to attract the bigger brand retailers, Mr Barret suggested the same must be true for Kirkby. Mr McVicar maintained that the proposed Destination Kirkby development is too big for Kirkby's needs but the final decision will be made by the secretary of state.


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Day 24 – Destination Kirkby - Big box Retail with a Sea of Car Parking
Retail expert, Keith Nutter was today's witness for the Combined Authority Objectors (CAOs), he began by stating that in a planning application, it is not down the applicant to indicate need. He said that is the responsibility of the Local Authority and in this case it should be the job of Knowsley Council.

It was stated that should the proposed development go ahead, Kirkby will leapfrog St. Helens and Birkenhead in the retail hierarchy moving from 12th to 5th place. In comparison, Skelmersdale will move from 13th to 7th place should the St Modwens proposals be complete. He stated that there is a greater need to enhance to roles of Birkenhead (Wirral) and Bootle (Sefton) over Kirkby.

It was confirmed that the Tesco store is out of centre as the distance between the existing town centre and the proposed Tesco's front entrance are more than 300 meters apart.

It was stated that some elements of the retail area are edge of centre. Mr Nutter stated that a 9,000sq metres store would meet the needs of the community. He also stated there is no policy which supports moving Kirkby above Prescot or Huyton in the retail hierarchy. It was deemed that Prescot would be the more obvious choice for a retail centre in Knowsley as it is more central and has a larger population. It was suggested that the Destination Kirkby development is not sustainable as it encourages car use.

Patrick Clarkson began his cross examination of Mr Nutter, he asked if the CAO councils accepted the fact that there was deprivation in Kirkby that would be addressed by these proposals. Mr Clarkson suggested that jobs and the increased economic activity would be advantageous.

Mr Nutter replied that it needed to be weighed against losses in surrounding areas as a consequence of the development.

Mr Clarkson queried whether the CAO councils had taken a stance on the relocation of Everton Football Club, Mr Nutter confirmed that they had not.

Mr Clarkson then suggested that the neighbouring councils were aware that Kirkby has problems and they wanted to keep it that way because it suited them. He went to great lengths to explain that should this development be rejected then Knowsley Council would have to find another project to redevelop the town centre.

His suggestions were met with Mr Nutter's response that the scale of the project was the problem and it is in total conflict with the Unitary Development Plan and its impact on established centres.

Mr Nutter informed the inquiry that Skelmersdale was being regenerated through the development plan process, it was not 'opportunity driven'.

He went on to say that Kirkby would jump from 612th to 201st, 411 places up the retail hierarchy, Mr Clarkson replied that it would be wonderful for Kirkby.

Nutter responded that it wouldn't be for the other centres affected by the development.

He also stated that there was no linkage between Prescot Town Centre and Cables retail park, previously in the inquiry they had been linked together and both were deemed as Prescot.

It was suggested that there could be another foodstore in Kirkby and that competition can be a good thing.

When asked, Mr Nutter did say that he didn't see Liverpool One being affected very much by this development.

Mr Clarkson asked why Skelmersdale was being allowed to develop, contrary to policy, while Kirkby was being kept under water. Nutter replied that Skelmersdale was developing in line with policy, unlike Kirkby.

It was put to Mr Nutter that people from Rainhill would come to Kirkby. He replied that if you built a development the size of the Trafford Centre in Kirkby, people from Southport would come. The bigger the development, the bigger the catchment. He stated that this proposal was 'a classic retail park design'.

He continued by saying that Warrington and Wigan have both taken trade from St. Helen's, this is acceptable as they are sub-regional centres and St. Helens shouldn't have to compete with Kirkby as well.

It was now time for Knowsley Council's counsel Mr Barrettt to cross examine. He began by saying that he had not seen any masterplan designs from developers St. Modwens for the new Skelmersdale development.

Nutter stated that there will be a shift in retail areas. It was deemed Skelmersdale will be the main centre and smaller towns like Ormskirk and Burscough will remain as market towns.

He reiterated that Kirkby is not a priority centre. Mr Nutter said that the Kirkby proposal does not promote sustainable transport as it is clearly a low density retail park, it is big box retailing with a sea of car parking, a bad design. He commented that other new developments have 'streetscapes'.

Barrett asked if development of inappropriate scale was allowed in named centres, to which Nutter replied that it is a control point. Listed centres don't need to demonstrate appropriate scale and that all centres cannot be given the same weight.

The inspector Wendy Burden. asked why Skelmersdale was named in RDF1 (regional development framework) and why Kirkby wasn't.

Nutter replied that that was how Skelmersdale. has developed in the RSS over time. Historically, Skelmersdale has always been a a regeneration priority.

Nutter stated that he thought a foodstore in Kirkby of 9,000 sq metre was capable of competing with the Asda in Aintree (6,670sq.m, 10,000 with mezzanine). At this time Kirkby's development plan is to maintain its current status.

When Barrett asked what the CAOs thought was an acceptable level of development, Nutter replied that they were not there to promote the applicant's case.

Barrett stated that Kirkby needed a transformational change to attract retailers (such as Marks and Spencer), Nutter agreed but not in the region of 50,000sq m.

In closing, the CAO's QC Mr Lancaster reminded the Inspector that Tesco were promoting the same need for critical mass now, at 50,000sqm as they were when they were promoting the earlier scheme of 70,000sq m.

Skelmersdale was to be 33,000sq m with a predicted turnover of £128million per annum, Kirkby is predicted to have a turnover of £249million per annum. Skelmersdale would draw an extra 14%, (about £8M) from outside it's current catchment, in comparison; Kirkby would be drawing 68% (about £144m).

Mr Lancaster also explained that whereas Skelmersdale had an ambitious home retention rate, Kirkby's inflow of expenditure would be arriving by car.

Wendy Burden asked about the public transport links between Skelmersdale and Liverpool. Mr Nutter informed that most people go to Wigan because it is more accessible.

She also asked for planning updates from St. Helens to which Mr Nutter responded that St. Helens is waiting for S106 to be signed with Tesco but was a stumbling block (ancient monument).

Chalon Way was also waiting for outline approval subject to the S106 with Tesco and Svenhill, who are Tesco's development arm.

Mr Megson (Strategic Planning Officer) Lancashire County Council informed the inquiry that the Tesco proposal is to build on a site, of which 90% is greenfield. The North site, if developed, is 100% brownfield. He said that this should be given priority in terms of the sequential test.

He also said that no weight should be given to the Interim Policy Statement as it devolves land and there were 13,000 objections to it.

Mr Megson also said little weight should be given to the planning application because enabling is required and that argument is not being used any more.


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