2015 email reveals attempt to see off any Village Green bi
HIGH school teacher Katie Breed and her husband, Richard, are eagerly awaiting the outcome of an application they have made to win Village Green status for 13 acres of land at Harthill/Calderstones which is destined for a luxury development of houses worth half a million pounds each.
As the battle of Harthill continues, an email has emerged in which a manager from house builder Redrow urged the city council - as long ago as June, 2015 - to erect “private property” signs around the controversial site to head off any attempts by campaigners to have the land designated as a village green.
This will really help all parties greatly should a TVG (Town and Village Green) app be made
Below is the email from Redrow to a council officer following a go-ahead for 51 luxury homes to be built on land spanning an area the size of eight football pitches.
Campaigners met this week and now plan to seek legal opinions from several barristers to pave the way for a judicial review to block Redrow’s plans.
Mrs Breed, who submitted the Village Green application last summer, insists the public had always enjoyed access to the Harthill land, describing it as Calderstone’s own magical garden.
She said: “This has always been the village green for thousands of people over many decades, with access through Beechley House and from the main section of Calderstones Park.
“It is heartbreaking that this beautiful space will be lost for housing. We put together our Village Green application, with up to 50 statements from people confirming they have had access to the area for at least 20 years."
She added: “It has always been a magical place, used by people wanting to explore the flora and fauna, a place where brownies and guides could explore, people studying bats and fruit pickers. People are just flabbergasted that this is being taken from them.”
In the email, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, Redrow Land Manager Gareth Stansfield wrote to City Council Project Manager Julie Wickington.
Referring in the email to public access to the site, Mr Stansfield says: “As discussed there are concerns that the land isn’t necessarily closed off and can easily be accessed by the public.”
He adds: “This leaves any proposals for the site open to a town and village green application. We will no doubt discuss this further as the designs are developed for the site.
“For now would you be able to arrange for signs to be erected around the site stating ‘private land’ asap? This will really help all parties greatly should a TVG (Town and Village Green) app be made. Specifically there should be signs at the site entrance, but also on the fencing around the footpaths that abut the site.”
Although Mayor Joe Anderson insists the land being sold to Redrow is not part of Calderstones Park and does not have public access, few people living in and around the area agree.
Records dating back a century show the city council acquired the Harthill Estate as part of an extension to adjoining Calderstones Park.
The council proposes to relocate the three current community users of the Harthill site, Beechley stables, Calder Kids adventure playground and the miniature railway, to make way for the housing development. Dozens of trees would also be chopped down.
Local councillor and Lib Dem group leader Richard Kemp said: “We are preparing a dossier on a number of points to present to two barristers, one an expert on governance and the other in planning law. We are doing this with a view to seeking a judicial review.”
Money is already being promised through a proposed crowdfunding to pay the legal costs.
“I made the FOI request to the council and all sorts of information came forward The wording in one email was very clear about asking the council to put up the notices.
“I have concerns about the role of the council in facilitating such a partnership,” added Cllr Kemp.
“I asked at the council last November that any land owned by the city council and used as green space or for public community uses should be protected. The three uses of the Harthill estate are indeed community uses and not for profit.”
Land with Village Green status receives protection equivalent to Green Belt, ruling out new development other than in very special circumstances. According to Government guidelines: "Sites may be designated for a variety of reasons, including their setting, nature conservation benefits, or their quietness."
Mrs Breed added: "If Liverpool is to prosper we need to keep the land as green space.”