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Council steps up action against developer who abandoned two sites

by Gemma Melling

Knowsley Council is stepping up its legal action against a developer who has abandoned two unfinished housing schemes in the borough.

The two building sites are owned by Liverpool Community Homes PLC, who started but failed to finish homes on both Kenbury Road in Kirkby and Lyme Grove in Huyton.

Work began on both developments in 2021, but ceased suddenly early the next year. Since then the sites – which should have been delivering a total of 17 houses and 20 apartments – have been left unfinished, creating a local eyesore and acting as a magnet for flytipping and anti-social behaviour.

Knowsley Council has spoken to the landowner about the issues, and has taken formal enforcement action against them when promises to secure the sites were not kept.

At Knowsley Council’s Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, 13 July, 2023, councillors agreed to take even more robust legal steps, since Liverpool Community Homes have failed to comply with all previous action. As a result, the Council now intends to serve Completion Notices on both sites, which will give the landowner a deadline of 12 months to finish the developments, otherwise their planning permission will be revoked.

It is the next legal tool available to the Council, which has already exhausted other powers available to it. This began with the issuing of Community Protection Notices followed by ‘untidy land’ notices. Earlier this year, the Council successfully prosecuted Liverpool Community Homes PLC, who were fined £14,000 for their failure to secure the unfinished sites.

During this time, the Council has had to step in to undertake works on the Kirkby site when the developer failed to – including boarding up windows and door openings, clearing flytipping and erecting a fence to secure the site.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “Since work stopped on these sites 18 months ago, they’ve become a real blot on the landscape and attracted vandalism, flytipping and anti-social behaviour. In the case of Kenbury Road, where the outer brickwork for the houses was nearly complete, we’ve had issues with young people accessing the properties and we’ve been working with local schools to educate them about just how dangerous that can be.

“As the developer has repeatedly failed to take action, we, as a Council, have had to secure the site  and remove flytipped material . Our Safer Communities Team and colleagues at Merseyside Police have been dealing with the anti-social behaviour associated with the sites.

“We know how frustrating it has been for local residents who have to live with these two abandoned building sites on their doorsteps, and we want them to know we are taking every action available to us to get the landowner to do the right thing.

“A Completion Notice is a rarely used tool, but in this case, sadly, it has become necessary. We have exhausted all other options and the developer has consistently failed to comply with all other action.

“We hope now that this will finally spur Liverpool Community Homes on, either to finish the developments or sell the land so that somebody else can do so.”

What is a Completion Notice?

A completion notice will give the developer 12 months to finish the works on the sites. The notices are served under Section 94 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and must be approved by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing, currently Michael Gove.

The Council now hopes that the Completion Notice will encourage the developer to either finish the stalled developments, or sell the sites, so that they can finally be redeveloped.

How can I report antisocial behaviour?

If you would like to report antisocial behaviour ring 101, visit www.merseyside.police.uk or email our Crime and Communities Team on safer.knowsley@knowsley.gov.uk

If it’s an emergency call 999.

You can also report anonymously Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.