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PR big guns come to town in bid to smooth Sefton Park Meadows fury

Redrow's plans for controversial green space on show in one-day-only public consultation

Written by . Published on September 15th 2014.


PR big guns come to town in bid to smooth Sefton Park Meadows fury
 

A LONDON PR company which specialises in winning over local people in cases of controversial planning applications has been put in charge of a one-day-only public consultation over plans to build over Sefton Park Meadowlands.

Public affairs heavyweight Lexington Communications has been drafted in for tomorrow's event by housebuilder Redrow which has been named as the preferred developer of the land which is being sold by the council for “executive homes”.

The event, which will include an exhibition of its plans, takes place tomorrow, September 16 event runs between 2pm and 7pm at Greenbank Sports Centre in Greenbank Lane, Sefton Park.

Opponents of the plan, which they say will “destroy a treasured meadowland in Sefton Park” were not comforted by the messages on Lexington’s website, fearing a slick PR operation to engage locals will be seen as an enemy at the park door. They described the event as a "box ticking exercise" to earn brownie points with the Government, should it decide to call the scheme in for scrutiny.

This is what Lexington boasts on its website: “Lexington helps businesses working in property and infrastructure to win planning consent and secure supportive local plan policies.  Those in the sector know that identifying, establishing and demonstrating local support has always been important.

"We also advise some of the biggest companies in the sector on influencing national government policy and the political decisions which affect their business strategy, bottom line, and the progress of major projects.

"This track record of success includes some of the most controversial projects and promoting the case for business investment.”

Redrow promised a public consultation exercise after the company, owned by Garston born multi-millionaire Steve Morgan, was named by Mayor Joe Anderson as the builder of choice on the land which is described by the council as “incidental open space”.

Lexington

Green Party leader in Liverpool Cllr John Coyne said: “This is a box-ticking exercise to show the applicants have done something to engage with the public. Redrow isn’t obliged under statutory law to carry out this exercise, but they no doubt believe it will earn them extra marks if this scheme is called in by the Government.

We see our task as opponents of the scheme in influencing the planning officers and bodies such as English Heritage, and also the planning committee.

However the danger is the planning committee being influenced by the wishes of the Mayor, even though that shouldn’t happen. I think everyone knows what the mayor wants, you are a member of the mayor’s party.

Cllr Coyne said he was not surprised Redrow had hired a PR firm like Lexington to carry out the exercise, and campaigners are under no illusions about the Meadowlands issue.

There is a risk the government will call in this scheme if the planning committee gives its approval, as in our view it goes against the council’s own local planning policy for maintaining green spaces."

He added: "Despite the fact almost everyone in Liverpool knows the site as Sefton Park Meadows, Redrow is currently promoting the site as land in Park Avenue. This is despite the perimeter roads of the site being Mossley Hill Drive, Queens Drive and Aigburth Vale. Park Avenue merely dissects the Meadow into two parts."

Redrow has a website which will allow people to learn about the scheme and comment, for or against, until September 23.  

Sefton Meadowlands

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49 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

John BradleySeptember 15th 2014.

The green parties consideration of the plans was just as much a box-ticking exercise.

11 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

And your evidence for this?

John BradleySeptember 15th 2014.

Same as the evidence that anyone else's was box ticking.

Katie54September 15th 2014.

John, you don't seem to appreciate that the Green Party, and many other Liverpool residents, do not want the Meadows built on. Full stop. Irrespective of what the plans do or do not offer. If this is your position, then you don't actually need to "consider" the plans, let alone start ticking any boxes.

John BradleySeptember 15th 2014.

I'm talk about the origins of the Green Party's position and many other peoples isn't based on any consideration of the facts, it a simple opposition to development. Their default position is No.

Penny LaneSeptember 15th 2014.

Rubbish, John. How do you know the position of many people "isn't based on the facts"? It is a huge, sweeping and glib generalisation to say people are simply opposed to development and that their default position is no. How dare you insult them in this way. Your default position is to come on here defending Mayor Joe Anderson, however misguided and plain wrong he might be. This is a man who has the entire Labour group to do that for him. They do because they have no choice, it is in the script. You do have a choice and you ought to ask yourself is it right to concrete over this beautiful part of south Liverpool and drag it down, when there are plenty of other places that could be dragged up, with a bit of imagination. Joe is easily inflated by his mates at Downtown Liverpool. Try not to always be his bitch.

John BradleySeptember 15th 2014.

The Rubbish is all yours Penny I've seen the "facts" trotted out by the supporters and they don't stand up to the slightest scrutiny. As a matter of fact Joe and I do not get on. The plans to bring somewhere else up never made sense. What you have written there is the classic nonsensical, unreasoned, opposition argument. You quite happy to insult anyone who doesn't agree with you. You sue emotive terms like concreted over but that is the entire depth of you argument, you opposition came first, the rest is just a rather thin post fact rationalisation.

Penny LaneSeptember 15th 2014.

Land is land and when they chop these avenues of trees down and build little boxes on what is left, this land will look identical to land in West Derby, land in Anfield Road, land in Wavertree and land wherever else Redrow, Wimpy, et al, have built on. There is plenty of land in Liverpool to put these houses on. Flatten Smithdown Road and the land will look exactly the same as the land we are talking about here. It is about imagination, reinvention. Here they are cutting off a nose to spite a very beautiful face. For what? A few quid.

mickeydrippinSeptember 15th 2014.

"There is plenty of land in Liverpool to put these houses on." Perhaps you, and others, could pinpoint these vacant sites where Redrow etc. can build upon or is it the case that you don't really want any more new houses built in the city.

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

We could try the Garden Festival site for starters. Lovely view of the river. No takers?

John BradleySeptember 16th 2014.

You need to get you head out of your backside Penny. To Quote the ever accurate Answers.com There is an old joke in the Property or Real Estate business: Question: "In establishing the value of a house, what are the three most important factors?" Answer: "Location, location, location." In other words, the area the property is located in is so important, everything else you could say about it hardly matters.

AnonymousSeptember 18th 2014.

A big plot is soon becoming available at Goodison, we hear. Why not build an estate of Southforks for wideboys there?

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

The trees won't be chopped down! The local Labour councillors have saved them by locking Redrow into their protection.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 23rd 2014.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha! The trees will go sooner rather than later, and the Councillors will read out a scripted, unconvincing apology - whilst peeling onions - saying that it was unfortunate that the trees were accidentally cutdown/burnt/poisoned/damaged but nothing can be done about them now so the developer might as well build even more of his profitable new slums. Developer laughs all the way to the bank with a suitcase full of money and plans to make even more at our expense. Seen it before. Time and time again.

RobertSeptember 15th 2014.

Little Boxes for little minds... Anderson and his nodding dogs - and that includes your narrow mind Bradley. All this just maintains the north - south divide in Liverpool.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 16th 2014.

Any box to contain your mind Robert could have dimensions smaller the the planck length.

Two Short PlanksSeptember 23rd 2014.

What an unfortunate comparison for you of all people to use, Mr. Bradley.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2014.

Is that max planck? You always stumble with the attempts to sound as clever as you think you are

Bob WhiteSeptember 15th 2014.

is this land oficially called "Sefton Park Meadows? as I cant find any historical information about it,the land was a huge dog toilet but has recently become popular for protest meetings, it would make an ideal travellers site!

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

I thought the point was to build quite big boxes for the wealthier folk?

12 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 16th 2014.

Who pay higher council tax.

Katie54September 16th 2014.

So what? This higher council tax is a completely infuriating, and highly misleading non-sequitur. The "executive" homes that Redrow build (see the 120 "heritage" properties at "New Heys and Calderstones Grange) cost from around £400K and appear to be in council tax bands E or F - around 1900 and 2200. This is about twice the CT that the smallest, cheapest flat home pays £1056). But they occupies far more than twice the land. Although they generate much higher profit margins for the developer, which is what this is all about (cashing in on the 600k help to buy ceiling before it comes down, and never mind the consequences). So if the council is going to use maximising CT income as its main criterion for appraising development proposals, it should get developers to build lots and lots of small homes everywhere it can, and actively discourage large ones. I'm not for a moment suggesting they should do this, merely making the point that this argument in favour of this development doesn't hold water. Nor do most of the rest.

Mossley HillSeptember 16th 2014.

Hear hear Ms 54 - your logic is impeccable!

Katie54September 16th 2014.

Thanks (and apologies for the dodgy corrections in the middle). The other infuriating aspect of this is the assumption that building these big homes is a good thing. Redrow's sale strategy for New Heys is to push the Help to Buy thing, and I imagine that they will use the same technique for the Sefton Park development. But a great many observers - from the IMF to the Labour Party, think that the HTB threshold is way too high, causing excessive debt and a housing bubble. I cannot get my head around the fact that a Labour mayor and almost entirely Labour council is not only not opposing this kind of development, or using its powers to ensure that the developers also commit to building some affordable homes, but that it actually initiated the whole thing.

Katie54September 16th 2014.

Correction: I should have written the HTB ceiling (i.e. the 600k upper limit), not threshold.

Mossley HillSeptember 17th 2014.

You are correct. The Mayor's enthusiasm for this whole projuct is baffling. The profits will go to the developers, not the city which will loose another green space.

John BradleySeptember 17th 2014.

If you build lots and lots of small homes and greater and greater percentage of the occupies will be claiming council tax allowance so reducing the income.

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

John, since lenders do not grant mortgages to people on benefits, this can hardly hold true at the beginning. So are you suggesting that the less your home is worth, the more likely you are to lose your job? Any evidence for this?

John BradleySeptember 17th 2014.

Council Tax Support is available for more than just the unemployed, but also the low paid. Given the cost of renting in some cases buying can be cheaper. Plus people have kids... www.gov.uk/council-tax-reduction…

Sefton ParkerSeptember 18th 2014.

Ha ha! Come come, Bradders – can you honestly see people on today’s normal incomes being able to afford a family house in Sefton Park? Perhaps they might have been able to thirty years ago before the prices rocketed when the area became fashionable with affluent incomers.

John BradleySeptember 18th 2014.

WHat has that comment got to do with what I said.

Sefton ParkerSeptember 18th 2014.

You said that if normal houses were built they would all be bought by poor people claiming Council Tax Reductions! I do hope Redrow builds them nice garages where these people can keep their Ferraris - oh, and a rooftop landing pad for their flying pigs.

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

The point should be to build affordable TEPEES and sustainable YURTS with a public MAYPOLE in the middle and somewhere to BANG TAMBOURINES!!!!

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

The fact is they don't need to sell the land and the reasons given for the sale are nonsense. They have immediately resorted to ridiculing anyone who dared to say they disagreed with the sale of parkland and kept talking of it as a dogs toilet. Anderson created this row and is simply too pig headed to back down as are his lickspittle cronies who have also mocked anyone who opposes the sale. The reality is that he simply wants to flog it off and doesn't care what people think so long as developers make a quid. It's the old saying. He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The same man who thinks Liverpool's status as a world heritage site is just a meaningless plaque to be disregarded in favour of ugly office blocks nobody needs or wants. The idiocy of the belief that property developers are the only answer to every problem.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleySeptember 16th 2014.

You yet to come up with any other answer.

Dolly BlueSeptember 15th 2014.

DollyBlue Why do those opposing the plans refer to the houses as "exec." Would they prefer some of the huge numbers of social houses that are being built in the n'th end? Think this is all about small minded snobs whose only real concern is house prices.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

It was the mandate of the mayor to sell the meadows off for "executive" homes. He, and only he, came up with the word

Purple AkiSeptember 16th 2014.

For the sort of people that the Echo likes to call "local businessmen".

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

At the end of the day the Meadows is a stunningly beautiful piece of land that belongs to all us us in the city, to look after and care for, to hand it on to the next generation so they can enjoy it. You just cannot build parkland as lovely as this, and when it's gone, its gone. I just cannot believe that all seventy-odd Labour councillors agree and support the death of the Meadows, yet none of them have the cuts to publicly stand up to the 'Sale of the Century' Mayor. If I was a local Labour councillor I'd have to resign rather than support this.

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

Gutless wonders indeed. Especially when the whole scheme appears to be designed specifically to allow Redrow to make money by selling expensive houses to people who can't really afford them, funded by Help to Buy, which can currently can be used for houses costing up to £600,000. It is Labour Party policy to reduce this, but clearly Liverpool Labour does its own disastrous thing.

Bob WhiteSeptember 17th 2014.

Redrow and other home builders are vital for homing our countries people, they are not in the business of destroying "meadows" but will only apply to build on land once they are made aware that it is available, it is called progress!

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

Are you a PR man for Redrow by any chance?

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

Homing people??

AnonymousSeptember 18th 2014.

There are a million empty homes in this country. If the politicians were brighter and did their jobs properly and the developers less greedy the housing problem could be sorted out quickly without concreting over England's green and pleasant land..

Katie54September 18th 2014.

Bob, the whole point of all the protests is that this site is green space, whatever you want to call it, and as such shouldn't be available - not without a lot of consultation etc. which should have taken place well before they decision to invite developers to make proposals. There has been no mention of any additional payment (S.106) to offset the loss of a valuable community amenity, just nonsense about council tax. So it sounds like there won't be one. If this is the case, the developers are getting a bargain, and the city is being sold short. There are all sorts of brownfield sites all over the place, but it's a lot quicker, and less expensive, to build on sites like this. Even the trees they are magnanimously preserving will save them a fortune in landscaping costs.

Dingle BellOctober 11th 2014.

Sefton Park Meadows is attractive green space with serpentine borders and mature trees. If it is necessary to build on green space, why not build on all that unsightly grassed-over wasteland where solidly-built, high-density housing used to be around Mill Street and Park Road in Toxteth proper? Fancy ‘apartment’ blocks would have river views and be handy for Liverpool One. Such buildings could only improve an area that thanks to Council planning now resembles a decaying sprawl suburb of Detroit.

Bob WhiteSeptember 17th 2014.

no I am not a PR man for redrow, I was born in Sefton Grove and spent most of my childhood playing in Sefton Park but never played on the so called "meadows", probably know the park a lot better than a lot of the people that are protesting that dont live in the area but are just up for a fight against authority, the sooner the travellers get on the "meadows" the bettter!

AnonymousSeptember 18th 2014.

Can anyone explain can the relationship between Liverpool direct Ltd and the magistrates courts in Dale Street Liverpool, specifically one a citizen of Liverpool are summonsed to appear before the magistrates court for non-payment of Council tax. Apparently the courts do not keep any record of feelings held in the magistrates court Dale Street Liverpool, the courts advise they do not keep records as the rooms are being used by Liverpool direct Ltd, and they are the only record keepers of the hearings. Being that Liverpool direct Ltd are a private company, what is the legality if any of the hearings held at Liverpool magistrates courts Dale Street, indeed what is the point of the hearings, when the magistrates are not able to listen to evidence from the defendant in such cases, and will only accept evidence from Liverpool direct Ltd and their employees, what is the legal standing of these hearings.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 18th 2014.

LD are contracted to recover council tax arrears on behalf of the council. But you are entitled by law to obtain any of your personal information held by anyone. Ask LD to supply you with copies of all its records regarding your case.... and then go and speak to Citizen's Advice or a solicitor.

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