AN extension to the Waterside Village development has been approved, despite Morris Homes coming in for strong criticism.

On Tuesday, St Helens Borough Council’s planning committee granted planning permission for 24 homes on the former Lea Green Colliery site.

Around 700 homes have been built on the brownfield site, which is off Lowfield Lane, over the past decade, with the site still under construction.

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The new application was for the re-plan of 16 detached homes, which had already been granted planning permission on the massive housing development, and an additional of eight additional homes.

The plans also include an inclusion of an orchard area and the thinning of the existing woodland.

The additional eight homes will comprise of four semi-detached houses and four terraced homes.

Objections to the plans were received from 10 households and included a number of concerns, including that the proposed development is too close to existing properties.

Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing, praised Morris Homes for what they have done in transforming the former colliery.

But the Labour councillor said the developer has treated residents is a “disgrace”.

St Helens Star: Clr Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing,Clr Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing,
“I’ve got to say, Waterside Village, it’s a fantastic estate and the developer should be congratulated for what they’ve built really," said Cllr McCauley.

“It’s fantastic but what you can’t congratulate the developer on is how they’ve treated residents in the time. It’s been a building site for 10 years.

“The roads there still aren’t adopted. We get many complaints on this. It’s absolutely horrendous what they’re going through.”

Cllr McCauley said residents who have bought homes on the site are “sold a dream”.

“They’re not cheap them houses on Waterside Village,” he said.

“They’re absolutely lovely and people are sold a dream and then the next thing they know there’s a planning application going into build houses right in front of where they’ve bought a view.

“It’s disgraceful really.”

Despite his concerns, Cllr McCauley said he could not see how the application could be refused on planning grounds.

Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron, chairman of the planning committee, echoed Cllr McCauley’s concerns but said the council should be championing a brownfield-first policy.

Waterside Village resident Kerry Forsyth spoke out against the new plans at Tuesday’s planning meeting, on behalf of residents in Gibfield Road, which backs on to the proposed site.

Ms Forsyth said: “We believe that the proposed houses are essentially being built on land that was earmarked originally, going back to the original Waterside Village planning permission, earmarked for trees and wildlife.

“This has also led to an increase in evident loss in security and privacy.

“We believe that the new houses being proposed are for pure monetary gain, leading to the destruction of land and ecosystem and it shouldn’t be encouraged by the council.”

St Helens Star: Images of the site included in the planning application Images of the site included in the planning application

The applicant was criticised for removing a woodland previously on the site, with the developer telling planning officers that it needed to do this to remediate the site properly.

Melanie Hale, the council’s service manager for development and building control, said it was “unfortunate” the developer removed the trees.

However, she said the trees were not protected, adding that Morris Homes’ justification had to be taken at “face value”.

Speaking on behalf of Morris Homes, Alison Freeman said the trees had to be removed as that part of the site was “heavily contaminated” due to its former industrial use, and had an infestation of Japanese knotweed.

Ms Freeman said: “Some local residents have understandably expressed concerns about the loss of the trees and scrubs, albeit they may have had no knowledge of the contaminants and the potential threat they caused to their own properties.

“So to ensure local residents and the wider village community were compensated for the loss of visual amenity, through this application we’ve worked closely with your planning officers, tree officer and landscape officer to introduce more significant physical as well as visual enhancements over and above what’s already allowed and consented on the vast area of open space and woodland immediately adjacent to the application site.”

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Ms Hale told councillors that overall, planning officers found the development to be a sustainable development on an existing housing site in the borough.

She said the proposals complies with the council’s existing development plan, and recommended that planning permission be granted subject to various conditions.

Planning permission was granted following a vote.