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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Knowsley MBC Retail Assessment Delayed

Knowsley CouncilAs first reported on the KEIOC website last week (11/04/08). All surrounding Councils had been given an extension to await the publication of advice from the retail consultants commissioned by Knowsley MBC before commenting/objecting formally on the Tesco/EFC proposals for Kirkby town centre.

KEIOC can now reveal that Knowsley MBC have announced to those same neighbouring Local Authorities that the much-anticipated independent retail assessment has been put on hold and may possibly be shelved for the foreseeable future.

KEIOC’s contact at Knowsley MBC suggests that the Council, despite past promises to a number of surrounding Local Authorities, has other fundamental priorities with regards to the Tesco/Everton planning application.

This news has come as an unwelcome surprise to local authorities such as Liverpool, Sefton and St Helens and has been met with anger from top management. These Local Authorities along with West Lancs ' Council were given leave to await the publication of the advice from the Knowsley MBC commissioned retail consultants Roger Tym & Partners, before commenting formally on the application.

It was known by the neighbouring Council's that the initial findings from Knowsley MBC's own retail advisors contradicted the proposals put forward by Tesco. The revised planning statement recently submitted by Tesco's own consultants confirms what the surrounding Council's already knew and sheds some further light on the problems that Knowsley have encountered;

(1) 10.17 Since the application was made the Council has (very recently) appointed retail consultants to advise on the retail policy case offered by the applicant in support of the planning application. Following an initial meeting and feedback to the Council, it is the applicant's understanding that the Council's consultant is of the view that less convenience and comparison retail floorspace can be supported than the applicant's case contends. Nevertheless, the initial view offered is that a substantial amount of new convenience and comparison retail floorspace can still be supported.

(1) Tesco Stores Limited revised Plannning Statement (document 18), April 2008.

Knowsley had promised a detailed independent retail study as a way of appeasing the surrounding Merseyside Local Authorities who had made it known unofficially that they would be objecting to the proposed development on retail and catchment area grounds.

KEIOC can confirm that Sefton along with St Helens Council will now continue to undertake their joint study on the economic impact of the planned Tesco/Everton Development, this work is being carried out by major retail consultants White Young Green. Initial feedback is thought to suggest the retail element is far to big for the need and scale of Kirkby Town Centre. Similarly, KEIOC understands that Liverpool City Council are currently reviewing their own recently completed independent retail impact assessment of the Tesco planning application and in line with all the surrounding Local Authorities are preparing to object formally on the Tesco proposals for Kirkby town centre.

KEIOC have been made aware that this failed promise by Knowsley MBC to produce and deliver the detailed retail impact assessment, has and will continue to cause considerable damage to working relationships with the other Merseyside Local Authorities, in particular with regards to the Tesco Stores Limited, 'Destination Kirkby' proposal.

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