Saturday, 17 August 2013

Planning Update

I'm not sure whether I should be quoting the Vicar of Dibley, or a sketch from Not the Nine O'Clock News - but anyway it looks like the BBC will be filming the deliberations of CWaC's planning committee - and in particular some Frodsham planning applications.

We know the BBC are interested in the application to build 2 houses at 64 Howey Lane.  That matter looks likely to go to the October planning committee.

The application to create a 'hot food shop' (to use the planning terminology) or a cafe to you and me for 40A Main Street will be heard by the planning committee on 3 September.  At the bottom of this posting you'll find the text of a letter I hand delivered this morning to 60 properties at the west end of Frodsham this morning.

Planning officers have turned down an application to make the Gypsy and Traveller site on Bradley Lane permanent.

I gather a planning application is to be submitted shortly by a company seeking to use part of the marshes for hovercraft related activities.  I'm told the company is looking to use land near the model aircraft field.  Clearly we'll all need to look at the proposals carefully - but as a concept and subject to understanding the details of the application - this could work at that location.  I'm all for bringing jobs to Frodsham and increasing the controlled leisure use of the marshes.

Do make sure you have your say on any planning application you are interested in.  They are all accessible via CWaC's planning portal.  You'll find the details quoted in the following letter.




 Dear Neighbour                                                                               17 August 2013

Planning application 13/02099/COU – change of use of 40A Main Street, Frodsham Change of use of ground floor from Retail to A3 Cafe

Following comments from concerned residents Cllr Lynn Riley and I lobbied hard to have this planning application considered by the council’s planning committee.  We have been successful.  It is to be considered by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee on 3 September 2013.  The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm at the Council’s HQ Building, 58 Nicholas Street Chester CH1 2NP.

Anyone can attend the meeting and there is a limited opportunity for those who want to express views to the committee to do so.  Both Cllr Lynn Riley and I intend to be there and speak on the matter highlighting local residents’ views.   If you are intending to attend in person do let Jane Binyon of CWaC know.  She can be contacted 01244 972227. 

You can also watch the meeting live on the internet or view it later if you choose.  Just follow the links on the Council’s website – www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

The agenda will be published 7 days before the meeting.  Do check where this matter is listed on the agenda – as it may save you waiting around for a couple of hours!  You will also be able to read the officer’s report and recommendations in advance of the meeting.  I don’t know what the recommendation is yet.

The details of the planning application and what people have said about it can also be inspected on line via the council’s website.  Just type in ‘cheshire west planning portal’ into a search engine and you’ll very quickly be there!  Just put the application number in the search box and all will be revealed!  You can also find out what other applications are to be considered.

If you don’t have the internet at home you can call in to Frodsham Library and use the computers there.  The staff will be very willing to help you.

If there is anything you would like Lynn or I to help you with please be in touch.

Kind regards,
Yours sincerely,
Cllr Andrew W Dawson   tel 07970 635629 Andrew.Dawson@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk 

Cllr Lynn Riley tel 07800 869350  Lynn.Riley@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Frodsham West by-election for Frodsham Town Council

Any candidate seeking election to the vacancy on Frodsham Town Council's west ward had until 12 noon today to get their nomination papers in.

I am told there are 4 candidates seeking election.  They are:

  1. Robert Allerston proposed by Maureen Deakin and seconded by Rodrick McGregor
  2. Matthew Duffy proposed by Laura Archer and seconded by Karl Stopforth
  3. Tony Hinkins proposed by Geoff Bath and seconded by June Withenshaw
  4. Michael Pusey proposed by John Nield and seconded by Patricia King
The election is on 12 September.




Windfarm Update

One of the questions that Cllr Lynn Riley and I get asked most frequently is 'is there any update on the windfarm?'

Well yesterday we both met with Steven Snowdon from Peel Energy for an update.

First some key dates.  The 'drop dead date' for the project being commissioned is 1 April 2017.  This is the date on which the ROCs - in other words the government funding mechanism for this site - cease to be available.  We were told that the turbines are likely to be erected in 2016 with those in front of Helsby being erected ahead of those near Frodsham.

At the moment Peel are working through the various planning conditions imposed by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.  There are many conditions they have to satisfy before they can start works. There are also practical issues they need to resolve such as what are the ground conditions?  In September this year they will be doing exploratory work on this.

Peel are also having to work on resolving issues for the radar at Liverpool Airport.  As you would anticipate this has to be done before any wind turbines are erected.

We stressed to Mr Snowdon that whilst most of the local community had been, and no doubt continue to be opposed to the windfarm, we accepted that a decision had been made.  Like it or not Peel were set to become a very important part of our local community - and we wanted them to be a good neighbour for us and to work with us.

In that vein we asked Mr Snowdon to go back to his colleagues as see if there was any chance to move the turbine set to be closest to Frodsham (under 600m from the nearest house) to be relocated at 'the other end of the line' - in other words furthest away from Frodsham.   He agreed that Peel would look into this for us.

We talked about other issues such as the drainage of the marshes (bearing in mind the Environment Agency is to cease maintaining the pumps in 2015) and local employment and business opportunities for Frodsham people and businesses.  I have to say the initial discussions were productive - on these sorts of issues we probably share the same interests with them.  I do hope this is something that can bear fruit going forward - but it is early days yet.

We also touched on the issue of the Community Benefit Fund - and agreed that this was something that needed much more work going forward - so watch this space.

Beech trees in Castle Park

Oh dear - two of our largest Beech trees are showing their age.  Expert tree-surgeons have looked at the trees and believe that they can't be left in their current condition.  Apparently old beech trees can suddenly drop their branches - and the larger tree has done that in the past.

We don't want that to happen in Castle Park - let alone in an area where the public has access.

There is some hope that the smaller tree can be saved at least for a few years by suitable lopping and chopping - but it does look like the larger, and probably older tree will have to come down.

We will plant replacement trees - but it will take many years for them to reach the magnificent splendour of these c150 year old specimens.




Friday, 9 August 2013

Swing Bridge update

We've had the TV camera on the Swing Bridge this morning. Both ITV and the BBC have been filming - so look out on the local news during today and this evening.  It looks like ITV will carry greater coverage.

They have been filming today as the temporary bridge structure which we all fought so hard to bring about is now spanning the Navigation.  I vividly remember the meeting I chaired in September at Forrest Hills where we made sure the Canals and Rivers Trust realised that single lane operation over the swing bridge was not a viable option.  That was the catalyst in getting the temporary bridge in!

The Canals and Rivers Trust have been taking some time lapse photography of the temporary bridge construction which will go live when it is finished.  The temporary bridge will be put fully in place this weekend and the road deck will then be constructed.  We anticipate that the temporary bridge will be open for traffic in early September!

It is likely that the works on the swing bridge (which have now started) will take around a year to complete.  The cost of the temporary bridge has come from savings made in the contract as a whole given that the main contractor will have exclusive access to the swing bridge to work on it.


The temporary bridge spanning the Navigation - the pedestrian walkway is on the south side of the bridge

BBC & ITV filming today
Work on blasting the original bridge has started
Cllrs Lynn Riley, Ralph Oultram and me!




Thursday, 8 August 2013

Warm Zone


Everyone in Frodsham is going to receive a letter from North Staffordshire and Cheshire West Warm Zone offering help.

The text of the letter you'll receive is:

'We are writing to you as your details have been passed on to us by Cheshire West Council. We are currently funded to work in partnership to provide you with independent advice and assistance on increasing your income as you live in the rural wards of Cheshire West and Cheshire.

The aim of our project is to maximise household income and assess for any other money saving and energy efficiency measures available to you. This is a confidential and independent service, it is not operated directly by the council, we do not share your details with anyone outside of this independent advice service at warm zone.

Warm Zone is a community interest not for profit organisation – our aim is to tackle fuel poverty by a variety of measures for householders living in a warm zone area.

We are also able to provide information on the new Green Deal Assessments which are available to private householders to assess for major improvements such as insulation, heating systems and a variety of other energy saving solutions. From time to time the council offer incentives to take up assessments and sometimes measures to make your home warmer – we will keep you informed of any schemes if you register your interest with us.

In order to make a start it would be useful to know whether you are interested in our services and which of these you would like to get information on, please let us know by calling directly on the above number and we will provide some information for you.

North Staffordshire and Cheshire West Warm Zone generates around £1 million per year in benefit income for individuals and families locally. Many benefits go unclaimed so it is worthwhile getting a full benefit check to see if you’re eligible.'

Many thanks to Scottish Power for funding this initiative.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

CWaC Local Development Plan

CWaC's Executive voted to put the first draft local development plan produced by the council out to public consultation.  There will be an 8 week window within which anyone who wants to make any comments can do so.

Once the public consultation period is over there will be an Examination in Public held by a Planning Inspector who will test just how robust the various policies and proposals are.

If you want the right to participate in the Examination in Public it is essential that you make representations at this stage.  Keep watching the CWaC website for details.

Both Cllr Lynn Riley and I commented on the proposals tonight at the Executive.  We will also be making formal representations in due course as well.

The proposed development plan will shape development from 2010-2030 so it is a very important document for all of us to consider.

Frodsham has some surprising demographics.

We are one of the most rapidly aging populations in CWaC;
We have the highest rate of rural unemployment in the Borough;
We have the highest disability claimant count per capita in the Borough;
We have the most vibrant independent retail 'offer' in the Borough.

Now these figures point to what we already know.  We need to make Frodsham more attractive for younger adults and families.  We need Frodsham to be an affordable great place to be for everyone.

The draft plan only provides for an additional 250 houses in the plan period.  Personally I don't think this is enough.  Even our close neighbours in Helsby are having 300 proposed and they are half our size!

I am sure there is a broad consensus in Frodsham, Helsby and indeed the surrounding communities that most of the green belt boundaries are, and should remain sacrosanct.  Nobody would seriously suggest any changes between Frodsham and Helsby to the west, or to the south and south east towards Kingsley.

The land between Frodsham and the M56 to the north is designated green belt.  Much of it is very poor quality land and could potentially have some development potential.  The M56 itself is what most of us see as the northern boundary to Frodsham in any event.  Then there is the rectangle of land on the eastern side of the Weaver bounded by the railway viaduct and extending so far as Gleaves.  This could make excellent employment land and perhaps give an opportunity for some housing land.   It already has some limited use for these purposes.

We have some other issues that the development plan could help address.  We need our household waste recycling centre moving - and perhaps the ideal place would be by Gleaves?  We could do with all of the Station being spruced up - especially as the Station building has been refurbished.  And how about Eddisbury Square being revitalised?

And then there is the question of the use of land in the green belt too.  Use of this land for leisure purposes does already conform to green belt policy - so why not encourage perhaps a Frodsham Marina on the Weaver Navigation and perhaps more leisure use on the marshes so long as it is done sustainably and with respect for our environment.

And what about putting in policies that encourage industry to become good neighbours and a strongly integrated part of the community?  We could emphasise our expectations that they should become full participants in community life, provide local employment, accessed in a sustainable way.  How about putting in an expectation that they must respect us, and our health and wellbeing.  What about a policy that they must safeguard our environment, and operate lawfully and responsibly - perhaps including a requirement that they should participate in local environmental forums?

Then think about our High Street - should we have policies that seek to take account of the cumulative impact of various types of development.  In other words this could be a way of seeking to limit in total number terms things like, hot food shops, betting shops, Estate Agents ... ?

I'm sure all of us have views - just make sure you have your say!