Sefton Council has faced a backlash after turning down plans for a new £33 million “neighbourhood” project.
Safe Regeneration, a community social enterprise and arts organisation, wanted to transform a six-acre area in Bootle next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The scheme, believed to be the biggest community-led housing project in the UK, would have seen the creation of 110 new jobs, as well as contributing an estimated £3.8m annually to the local economy.
But at a meeting last month, Sefton’s planning committee refused the plans, stating advice from Councils Highways that such developments should include two car parking spaces for every home.
This – according to hyperlocal site Scottie Press – is despite only 5% of households in the area owning two cars, and only 29% owning even one.
Planning chiefs also said there were “significant shortfalls” in the proposals, due to the scheme’s “excessive density” and its outdoor amenity space.
Brian Dawe, CEO of Safe Regeneration, said: “We are absolutely committed to providing high quality, affordable homes that meet the needs of local people now and into the future.
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“Every home would have at least one car parking space, there are two train stations within a few minutes’ walk, there would be a shared electric car-pool and charging points, and we want to provide every household with a £400 bike grant.
“We want to put in solar panels and a geothermal heating system to help with heating and energy bills. We are facing a climate emergency and a global push to reduce car ownership. Sefton Council should be supporting a green project like this, not pushing for more cars on the road.”
The development is described as a “long-term investment vision for Bootle” – and includes 107 affordable family homes, an 80-bed extra care facility for residents aged 55 and over, leisure facilities, a microbrewery and an arts hub and business centre.
Louise Collins from Cycling UK told Scottie Press: “This is really disappointing news. Bootle has excellent public transport links and has the potential to develop a really solid and safe active transport network.
“As we continue on with a climate emergency, local authorities should be making it as easy as possible to choose to be car free and to move away from a car-centric mindset, not enabling more unnecessary car ownership.”
Sefton Council says it has worked with the Safe Regeneration throughout the planning process.
A council spokesman said: “We continue to offer support to any and all projects which contribute positively to the regeneration of our borough.
“We have worked with this applicant proactively throughout the planning process to try and secure a design of the highest standard, which met all requirements.
“Where the local authority has any concerns over certain parts of a submission, applicants are always made aware from a very early stage.
“In this particular application concerns were raised in relation to car parking, private outdoor amenity space for residents and overall design quality.
“As with all applications, our planning officers have encouraged appropriate resolution on these matters.
“It is the view of the local authority that these concerns have not been fully addressed and as a result officers were left with no option but to recommend the application be refused.
“We have reiterated to the applicant that we are ready and willing to continue working with them to find the right solution for this site.”