Housing developer Taylor Wimpey is seeking planning permission to replace a garden centre in Prescot with 200 houses, but some local councillors say now is not the right time, the St Helens Reporter highlights.
The St Helens Reporter writes:
The plans would see 227 homes built on a site in Prescot currently occupied by Whitakers Garden Centre, with the garden centre itself moved to a different location in the town.
The site was removed from the green belt in 2016 and plans for the new development were originally expected to be put forward at the end of last year.
Taylor Wimpey has said the development will bring “much-needed new homes, investment and economic benefit” to the area.
But councillors in Prescot are understood to be unhappy with the timing of the application, saying the coronavirus lockdown means the public cannot be consulted properly.
Coun Carl Cashman described the application as “a complete and utter disgrace” and called on Knowsley Council to postpone considering it until the lockdown had been lifted.
He said: “There cannot be proper public consultation at this time due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Many people who live in the area surrounding Whitakers are elderly with no access to computers so will not be able to participate in any online consultation which I assume the ‘public consultation’ will be based [on].
“Many people need a physical consultation to put the application into visual perspective. Equally, others will want the application explaining verbally. This will not be possible in the current climate.
“Many people will be worrying about their family and how they will afford their next weekly shop. Now is not the time to try to force through something when local people’s attention is focused on more important issues surrounding the pandemic.”
The Liberal Democrat group leader also warned that considering the proposal now would look like “pushing the application through the back door”…..
“As a result, Knowsley Council will now assess this application and if it is judged to be sufficiently complete, public consultation on the proposed development will begin, as early as later this week….
“The Government is encouraging applications to be continued during COVID-19, so we are approaching our plans to bring investment back to Prescot positively.”