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Friday, January 30, 2009

Devastating Blow to Kirkby Stadium Hopes


The Grange is a private housing estate (in Kirkby) South East to the stadium proposal. It turns out that prior to the public inquiry, the owners of the houses were totally ignored by Tesco - no 'impact study' of the proposed development (to be built, including the stadium, within yards of the homes) on this private estate was including in the Environmental Assessment (a huge document) of the Tesco planning application. Obviously, the owners of the houses, who were unsurprisingly horrified to learn of the proposals in the first place, made it clear to the inspector through written/photographic evidence of their view that the Tesco proposals would have a clear negative impact on their homes, both towards amenity and value of their property.

Below is the Grange Residents' group  impression of how the stadium development will look. The residents created a scale model of the stadium specifically for the inquiry to put forth their concerns.

View from the Grange

More images can be found on flickr.com 

Previously, the inspector requested that Tesco produce a 'specific assessment of the anticipated impacts of the proposals upon the properties associated with The Grange and provide additional clarification further to points raised by the Inspector.' (This also includes the 'visual impact' from (amongst others) Valley Road, Whinberry Drive, Cherryfield Drive and Bewley Drive).

On December 18, this document was submitted on behalf of Tesco Stores Limited;

The conclusion reached for the privately owned homes on the North West side of The Grange (despite the proposal to build a 2.2m high landscaped 'bund' at the rear of the gardens that will, once planted reach a height of 14.2m by 'year 10') is; 'the magnitude of the impact is considered high.

The overall conclusion is that the proposed development, including the stadium, will somehow have a 'neutral impact'.

A 'neutral impact' is defined within the assessment; “it is also possible for a magnitude of change to occur that results in an impact of neutral significance due to the change being entirely compatible with the character of the local area”.

This (underlined) statement is of importance. It is used to justify the size of the development and in particular the height of the stadium against the objections of the residents and is repeated throughout the assessment;

'The upper levels of the stadium will be visible, however, built form is already a characteristic element within the context of these views and therefore it is considered that this element can be accommodated.'

'The upper levels of the stadium will be visible above the planting even at this stage, however, it is considered that because these views are set within the urban setting of Kirkby, the proposed built form can be integrated into the visual context demonstrated by these views. It is therefore considered that the anticipated neutral impact is applicable to these views.'

The conclusion then, that any visual impact will be neutral is based on a view from the applicant that the stadium (38.5m (approx' 126 ft) high (masts are 48m) can be integrated into the current visual context within the urban setting of Kirkby.

Interestingly, both CABE and English Heritage (through their Government endorsed paper) 'Guidance on tall buildings - July 2007'; http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/ define 'a tall-building' as;

'Any building which is significantly higher than its neighbours and/or which recognisably changes the skyline.

'…we do not think it is useful to or necessary to define rigorously what is and what is not a tall building. It is clearly the case that a ten-storey building in a mainly two-storey neighbourhood will be thought of as a tall building by those affected, whereas in the centre of a large city it might not.'

And are very clear in their view of what is deemed as acceptable in regards to tall-buildings;

4.4 To be acceptable, any new tall building should be in an appropriate location, should be of excellent design quality in its own right and should enhance the qualities of its immediate location and wider setting. It should produce more benefits than costs to the lives of those affected by it. Failure on any of these grounds will make a proposal unacceptable to CABE and English Heritage.

The criteria set out by CABE and English Heritage is:

'Appropriate location.........should be of excellent design quality in its own right.......... should enhance the qualities of its immediate location and wider setting........... should produce more benefits than costs to the lives of those affected by it............'

Surely a criteria that all Evertonians as well as the horrified home owners of The Grange would agree on.

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