Local Response to Development Plans
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It is clear that many local residents are very concerned about the proposals and the processes by which they are being put forward. It is not that they are against any change or development, but there is a strong feeling that proposals must be fully discussed with the public, and only proceeded with when public opinion is very strongly in favour.

There are many residents wishing to work with their elected representatives and the Council Officers for the benefit of the community. They have a huge amount of experience, knowledge and expertise between them and it would be great pity if this were not to be harnessed in some way.

There is concern that
  • information has not been put in the public domain that should rightly be there
  • the council website contains very little information
  • planning briefs have not been made available
  • some information has appeared only in the press and so is very difficult to assess.

The Sail Hotel

There is concern that
  • this is too significant a development to be handled at the level of one Local Authority, but should be part of a regional picture as regards planning decisions
  • Carpenter Investments has no experience of building hotels.
  • in the current economic climate a hotel of this size would not be viable and funding may collapse half way through the construction, resulting in the building being sold off as flats
  • the loss of the views of the Welsh hills would be a great detriment
  • the loss of the car park would lead to greater congestion, when car parking in West Kirby is already a problem
  • any 'replacement' car parking would be taken up by guests and workers at the 80-bed hotel
  • the size of the development would be out of character with the rest of West Kirby, and so would be overdevelopment of the site.

Public consultation

There is great concern that
  • West Kirby residents have been promised that consultation would be "accurate, comprehensive and robust", and so far it has been none of these
  • the current 'consultation' process being handled by Carpenter Investments is deeply flawed, and any decisions based on it would have no credibility in the public eye
  • detailed proposals have not yet been produced by Carpenter Investments - the information available at the moment is much too vague to be useful
  • the feedback form at the June exhibition by Carpenter Investments was poor - there were only three questions, and the sailing school and hotel were linked in a single question. Question 1 was "Do you broadly support the proposals for a new sailing school and a boutique hotel at the marine lake?". This is actually two questions not one, as it is possible to broadly support the sailing school part and not broadly support the boutique hotel. It should have been two separate questions.
  • the questionnaire wording was biased, since a positively worded question tends to draw more positive answers - it would have been equally wrong to ask "Do you broadly disagree...". People should have been asked how they felt about each of the proposals (2 questions), with tick boxes of "agree", "disagree" or undecided.
  • only some of the visitors to the June exhibition were given feedback forms

  • at the very least, there needs to be a properly organised survey of public opinion (not managed by Carpenter Investments) after publication of detailed proposals
  • there should be a properly constituted public meeting

Online comments

There have been many comments in the Globe's online facility www.wirralglobe.co.uk/mostpopular.var.1970534.mostcommented.10_million_hotel_for_west_kirbys_seafront.php

Surveys of local opinion

A proper survey of local opinion has not yet been carried out.

Some details of the regeneration plans were revealed by Wirral Council Officers at the Local Area Forum held in West Kirby on 19 February 2008. See minutes of the meeting: www.wirral.gov.uk/minute/viewmins.asp?mtg=2422. The meeting was overwhelmingly against the hotel proposal on a show of hands, with just two people showing approval at that stage, and over 100 against.

Some questionnaires were completed during the exhibition by Carpenter Investments in June 2008, but questionnaires were given to only some visitors (none were available at the start of the exhibition), and invitations were sent to only some local residents. The results to the first question have been published as 46% in favour, 36% against, and 18% undecided, but it is unclear how many questionnaires were completed.

The Greater Concourse

There is concern that
  • the brief has not been made available to local residents
  • that the residents' views should be considered in the selection of a developer.

The Golf Resort

There is concern that
  • the area concerned is a Green Belt area

Other Councils

Wirral Council has not consulted as widely as some other councils.

  • The Hornsea promenade rejuvenation was preceded by public consultation (See here ):
Consultation exercises were undertaken from an early stage with a major public meeting/exhibition ... The main consultees included the Hornsea Area Regeneration Partnership, local and parish councillors, and Lets Go Hornsea, a local focus group made up of members of the public, professionals and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce.