Protesters look at next move after flats granted

A huge crowd staged a silent protest against plans to build flat on the former Fleetwod Pier site.
A huge crowd staged a silent protest against plans to build flat on the former Fleetwod Pier site.
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Campaigners who objected to a controversial apartments scheme on Fleetwood seafront are considering their next move after the plans were given the green light.

Wyre planners approved proposals by consortium Simmo Developments to build 15 apartments for the over 55s on the former Fleetwood Pier site.

Objectors to the flats on Fleetwood Pier make their point during a silent protest.

Objectors to the flats on Fleetwood Pier make their point during a silent protest.

Although some people in the town welcome plans for the ultra-modern art deco building, which would be made of curved glass and stainless steel, many are bitterly opposed to the scheme.

Objectors fear that building on the seaward side of the prom will ruin the seafront and could set a worrying precedent of other building work along the seafront in future.

Before Wednesday’s planning meeting, a huge placard-waving crowd staged a silent protest at the pier site, as councillors on the planning committee made a site visit.

Despite this, and some stirring speeches objecting to the scheme at the planning meeting, the application was given the go ahead, 8-4 in favour.

Artist's impression of the Simmo Development plans in Fleetwood.

Artist's impression of the Simmo Development plans in Fleetwood.

With the scheme granted, there is no automatic right to appeal against the decision.

But Fleetwood Town Council member, Coun Terry Rogers, is hoping a meeting can be arranged to consider possible options to challenge that decision.

He said: “Some people in Fleetwood have asked whether we could ask for a judicial review.

“A judicial review would see if the planning authority acted outside the law on the planning application or missed engaging with key stakeholders like Lancashire County Council highways.

Coun Terry Rogers, of Fleetwood Town Council

Coun Terry Rogers, of Fleetwood Town Council

“The problem is, if the judicial review panel find any errors on this matter then Wyre Council would simply bring it back to the committee and usually it would be added and passed.

“And looking at it, Wyre Council’s handling of this matter appears to be water-tight in any case.

“A judicial review would also have a cost implication and I not sure I would want to go down that route, which would involve solicitors and could result in us making a lot of barristers rich, with no end result.”

However, Coun Rogers said other possible options would be looked at, with a meeting being planned involving Fleetwood’s town, borough and county councillors, as well as Fleetwood MP Cat Smith.

The application, by businessman Mike Simmons (aka comedian Joy Blower), was almost identical to one which Wyre planners rejected back in January on the grounds that its height, scale, mass, design and appearance would be out of keeping with its surrounds in a conservation area.

At the planning meeting, Fleetwood County Coun Lorraine Beavers said: “The only difference between this application and the last one is 12 and three quarter inches in height.

“We rejected it the first time because it just doesn’t fit.

“Nothing has changed.”

But Preesall councillor Paul Moon, who approved it, said: “None of the consultees, English Nature, the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Lancashire County Council highways, Lancashire County Council flood authority and Wyre Council engineers, have any objections.

“New buildings will always change the appearance of an area, look at the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, which people thought was horrendous at first.”

The four councillors who voting against the plans were Fleetwood Labour members, Couns Brian Stephenson, Evelyn Stephenson and Ron Shewan and Thornton Labour member, Coun Terry Lees.

Mike Simmons, who has remained publicly silent on the issue throughout, was not available for comment.