Liverpool

Calderstones Park: Liverpool Council loses fight over park houses plan

Protest meeting in Calderstones Park
Image caption Protesters formed a community interest company to fight the Calderstones Park development plans

Controversial plans to build 51 homes in a popular Liverpool park have been scrapped following a High Court ruling.

Judge Mr Justice Kerr quashed Liverpool City Council's original decision to grant planning permission because of the impact on Calderstones Park.

Campaigners said their four-year battle had been "vindicated" by the ruling.

Mayor Joe Anderson, who previously said opposition to the development was based on "smears and lies", said the Harthill Estate plans would not be revived.

Developer Redrow Homes wanted to build 39 new houses in the park and create 12 flats in an existing historic house and its grounds.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson previously said opposition was based on "smears and lies"

On Friday, Mr Anderson said: "The Harthill scheme is dead. It will not be resurrected."

The mayor had been a supporter of Redrow's plans, saying the housing plan would have generated additional revenue to improve the park's facilities.

'Vindicated'

Campaign group Liverpool Open Green Spaces (LOGS) raised thousands of pounds to mount a legal battle.

LOGS campaigner Caroline Williams was in court to hear the ruling and said afterwards: "Everything the community has done and every argument we have made has been vindicated."

Mr Anderson also faced opposition from within his own party when two senior councillors broke rank to oppose the housing plan in favour of creating indoor gardens.

He said he would now focus on securing the long-term future of Beechley Stables, which operates a community horse riding school on the Harthill Estate.

The council said it did not consider Harthill Estate to be part of the park because the public did not have access to it.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Opponents said the ruling by the judge had vindicated their four-year fight

Analysis: Claire Hamilton, BBC Merseyside political reporter

It has been a bitter four-year row which has seen the Labour Party lose seats in local elections, more than 50,000 people sign a petition and a crowd-funded legal battle which has ended in victory for the campaigners.

Mr Anderson personally championed the housing scheme from the outset, claiming it would bring much needed revenue to the council and the organisations which use the site.

But he reckoned without the tenacity of local people who simply didn't want luxury homes in this green space.

In a 27-page written judgement, Mr Justice Kerr upheld an appeal brought before a judicial review by LOGS last November on the grounds that the council had misinterpreted part of its own policy relating to the protection of "green wedge" land at Calderstones Park.

The judge also agreed with LOGS the council had failed to recognise the important heritage of the Harthill Estate.

He said he was "troubled" council planning officers had given too little weight to concerns raised by the council's own conservation team about the harm the development would cause to the heritage of Beechley House and its surroundings.

A Liverpool Council spokesman said any concerns about way the conservation team's views had been presented to councillors was "purely cosmetic" and a result of the style of council report writing.

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