Saturday, 28 September 2013

Planning Update - Hovercraft on the Marshes?

I encourage everyone in Frodsham to log on to CWaC's planning portal - (click here)  or go to Frodsham Library or FTC at Footman's Cottage and ask to see the plans and documentation for planning application

13/03657/COU: Frodsham Marshes – land off Brook Furlong

Change of Use: Agricultural to Leisure Use

application site shown edged in red - on the north side of the M56 opposite Frodsham
Lynn and I have called this planning application into CWaC's Planning Committee as we recognise it is an important application and should be given a wide airing and discussion.

It may not be clear from the plan - but the application site is on the north side of the M56.  It is an 18 acre field lying opposite Frodsham.  The applicant proposes a wide range of outdoor leisure activities - potentially including archery.  Of note they also propose using buggies and 2 small hovercraft.

The applicant suggests that the noise from the hovercraft is the equivalent of 2 small vans.

The proposed access to the site is down Marsh Lane, over the M56 and then into Brook Furlong.
It is suggested that the site would be open 09:00-15:00 in the winter, to 17:00 in the summer with the exception of Thursdays when they propose to remain open to 20:00.

I have spoken with Liza Woodray - the planning officer evaluating the application and she has confirmed that in principle leisure uses on the marshes are acceptable.  This is in accordance with the long standing Vale Royal local plan.  However this is not the end of the consideration as questions such as vehicle access/vehicle parking/temporary structures as well as noise etc still have to be evaluated.

We all know how congested Marsh Lane is - Lynn and I have only just 'paid' for the double yellow lines to be extended out of 'our' Members' Grants!  Thursday in Frodsham is Market Day and Marsh Lane becomes even more congested...  all these things must be considered and evaluated too.  It has also been suggested that the end of Marsh Lane nearest the M56 is not a public highway - and that there are no rights for private vehicles to access the marshes.  If this is correct - those who control the private rights are in a very strong position to influence what happens.

I am sure many people in Frodsham have views on these things and the application as a whole - so please make sure you have your say.

Incidentally I have suggested that before any decisions are taken that the applicant should bring a hovercraft to the site and let us hear just how noisy it is.

So having encouraged you all to have your say - what's my initial position.  Incidentally I won't make up my mind finally until I see all the officer reports and consider all the other representations made.  I do intend speaking at the Planning Committee and I will readily reflect the diversity of opinion of the local residents - and I will be particularly interested in and will present what those living near the site and its access have to say.  I will reflect their comments to the Planning Committee.

So back to what my initial views are:

First I very much support the concept of increased leisure activity on the marshes - all too few of us enjoy the marshes at the moment and I would like to see more people walking, cycling, bird watching, model aircraft flying etc etc etc.

Second - if the application site had been in the Ship Canal lagoons or perhaps alongside the model aircraft field all other things being equal the application would be very much easier to support.  We do not get noise complaints about the model aircraft.

Third - any application - and this one included - really ought to be right application, right place and I'm not sure this is.  If you have a potentially noisy use why place it immediately opposite Frodsham and the motorway width from the Park Homes?  We need to get to the bottom of just how noisy this proposal could be - hence the suggestion that we have a demonstration.

Fourth - vehicle access - why down Marsh Lane?  I don't know where the public rights end and private rights for vehicle access begin - but wouldn't it be preferable if access for vehicles was down Godscroft Lane?  Does this point to another reason why another site would be preferrable?

Fifthly - we must be clear that the arrangements for car parking and for any temporary structures are suitable and appropriate.

If I've missed out anything you think I should have included please let me know.  I will publicise the date when the application will be considered by CWaC's planning committee.