Home For the record Housing Plans in Kirkby Town Centre – Your Questions Answered
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Housing Plans in Kirkby Town Centre – Your Questions Answered

by Jonathan Kearney

This article was updated on 29 September 2022

In March 2020, the Council asked the Kirkby community “What makes a good town centre?”  The results from this consultation have since been used to helped to shape the Council’s plans for the town.

The key priorities identified by Kirkby residents and businesses were a supermarket and a greater choice of shops, more places to eat and drink, and other facilities (such as a cinema).  In addition, over half of the respondents said that they would welcome more or new housing – people particularly outlined the need for affordable homes, bungalows, and energy efficient properties ( or “eco-homes”).

With the other priorities progressing, the Council went out to tender in 2021 to seek proposals from developers in respect of the land south of Cherryfield Drive (a 55.7-acre brownfield site) which forms part of Knowsley’s Housing Land Disposal Programme.  The brief was very clear in terms of incorporating the views of the local community and the Council’s aspirations for the site, including green links to the town centre and a mixture of housing types and sizes (including affordable homes).

What were the results of the tender process?

Nine tenders were received as a result of the exercise mentioned above.  Following a robust evaluation, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet granted an exclusivity agreement on 8 September 2021 to the recommended preferred bidder – a partnership between Barratt Developments and David Wilson Homes.  These developers have since been carrying out survey works at the site (including ground investigation works and some vegetation clearance).  In addition, the housing developers arranged a public consultation which ran from 11 to 13 August 2022 (an in-person drop-in event in an empty shop unit on St Chad’s Parade in Kirkby Town Centre) alongside an online consultation from 11 August until 5 September 2022.

What did the preferred bid include?

The Barratt Developments and David Wilson Homes bid outlined:-

  • 796 new homes – 73 affordable two- and three-bedroomed homes, a 66-home affordable extra care scheme, and 657 market homes for sale. This would equate to provision of 18% affordable homes, which significantly exceeds the Council’s 10% planning policy requirement.
  • The affordable homes being split on a 75% affordable rent/25% shared ownership basis.
  • The market homes for sale comprising 15 five-bedroomed homes, 372 four-bedroomed homes, 207 three-bedroomed homes, and 63 two-bedroomed homes.
  • All new homes meeting Energy Performance Certificate Rating “A” as a minimum.
  • Strong pedestrian links to Kirkby Town Centre and its existing/proposed new amenities.
  • Integrated movement for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles through the site and to the wider area.
  • A number of open space areas which would be well located and well overlooked.
  • Landscaped “green edges” with a variety of planting options which enhance biodiversity.
  • Provision to enhance the existing public open space.

In addition, the preferred bidders proposed to deliver a range of social value outcomes, including the creation of apprenticeships, work experience placements, “work ready” workshops, and local labour and supplier commitments (including two “meet the buyer” events).

It is important to note that these were initial proposals – there was no planning application submitted, and the Council agreed that the developers should proceed to consult the public to refine these proposals in line with public views.

Has a planning application been submitted?  What are the next steps?

As stated above, no planning application has been submitted as yet.  Barratt Developments and David Wilson Homes are currently using the findings from the recent public consultation (conducted in August and September 2022) to refine their plans.

Prior to making a planning application, potential planning applicants can apply to the Council for an opinion on whether a possible development should be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment.  When making such an application, the developer has to set out a map to identify the land in question alongside a brief description of the proposed development.  Barratt Developments and David Wilson Homes have recently submitted such a request, but this is NOT a planning application.

Once plans have been developed by Barratt Developments and David Wilson Homes, there will be further opportunities for the public to view any such plans and share their views prior to the plans being considered by the Council’s Planning Committee.

What would the impact be on schools / health facilities etc?

The Council has not yet received any planning application, so we cannot fully assess the impact of any such plans..  If and when an application is received, and as would be the case for any significant development, we will take into account the impact on infrastructure, such as open spaces, schools, health facilities, local roads, and the need for accessible bus stops and cycle paths.  This is a vital part of the planning application process in deciding whether a proposed development is acceptable and whether the development should fund and / or deliver any necessary local infrastructure improvements that would make their proposals acceptable.

Why are trees / shrubs being removed from the site?

There is some vegetation removal taking place which has been agreed following a visit to inspect the site by our Environmental Sustainability Service and Tree Officer.  This work is needed so that some ground investigations can be carried out to inform any future proposals for the site.  The vegetation across the site is “self-seeded” (i.e. it was not planted or landscaped deliberately), and has only grown since the demolition of the former All Saints School.  If housing plans do progress at this site (and again, this would be subject to further consultation and full planning processes), we would expect any future housing development plans to aim to minimise the loss of trees, and the Council will secure appropriate tree replacement through the planning process on a ratio of at least two additional trees for every tree lost.  In addition, any developer may also be required to make financial contributions to pay for significant improvements to the surrounding public open spaces.