The plans were for the West Kirby Dee Lane car park site (the beach car park) to be handed over to developers for a hotel to be built - in return, the West Kirby Sailing School would be rebuilt- the whole package being referred to as the 'Sail'.
Sail Project Halted (again):
At the Cabinet meeting on 13 Jan 2011, it was resolved that:
(1) the Cabinet confirms its decision of 14 October 2010 (Minute No. 160 refers); and
(2) the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management be instructed:
(a) to express the Cabinet's sincere appreciation and thanks to Carpenter Investments for their considerable commitment to the Sail Project since 2007, but to inform them that the Council will not proceed further with this development; and
(b) following consultation with the Interim Director of Technical Services, to report back to a future Cabinet meeting with options for securing the future enhancement, or reprovision, of the Sailing School, without involving any material net loss of car parking in the vicinity.
Sail Project Call-In: The Sail will be discussed by the Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee at 6.15pm on Monday 22 November 2010, in Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall. All can attend.
What this means is that the Labour Group has asked for the Cabinet's decision to be discussed by the Committee. The Committee can decide to agree or disagree with the Cabinet's decision to halt the project. If the Committee disagrees, the Cabinet will have to reconsider its decision.
Further details inclusing the reasons given for the Call-In are available from here.
Sail Project Halted: At the Cabinet meeting on 14 Oct 2010, two votes were carried 6:3
(1) against the motion to give Carpenter Investments more time and to delegate decisions to officers and
(2) in favour of the tabled amendment that Carpenter Investments be thanked for their efforts but that their scheme be rejected. Read the Minutes here (Item 160).
At the West Wirral Area Forum on 24 February, council officers said that a draft Development Agreement between the Council and the developers was being drawn up. The agreement will require the developer to draft a consultation and stakeholder engagement plan, and also develop a parking plan, which will ultimately require the approval of the Director of Technical Services.
A meeting between users of the Marine Lake and the developers had taken place earlier in February, and a further meeting was planned in about 10 days time.
Breach of Freedom of Information Act by Wirral Council
A complaint that Wirral Council breached the Freedom of Information Act was been upheld by the Information Commissioner (the national regulator). The complaint concerned the questionnaires that some of the visitors were given to complete at the time of the Carpenter Investments exhibition in June 2008, and a request under the Act for copies to be released.
The complaint was that there were breaches of proper procedure in that the copies of the questionnaires in the possession of the Council were withheld, that refusal to release them did not adhere to the proper procedure, and that there were delays in the Council complaint process. These points have all been upheld and Wirral Council has now complied with the FOI Act and released copies of the questionnaires.
A leaked report to the Council's Cabinet, meeting on Thursday 24 Sep, recommended the Council press ahead with the Sail project. See here.
The Report has not been released to the public (not even in redacted form) despite a request to the Council via the WhatDotheyKnow website posted Thursday 17 Sep See here. The Freedom of Information Act specifies that information must be released promptly and this failure appears to be a breach of the Act. This failure to respond promptly to a legitimate request under the Freedom of Information Act is the latest in a long series of similar failures.
The Council's Cabinet, met on Thursday 24 Sep, and decided that the Hotel / Sailing Centre project would proceed to the next stage, and the Director of Law is to draw up a detailed development agreement. The agreement is to include a public and stakeholder engagement plan.
The resolution agreed was
(1) That the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management be authorised to undertake detailed negotiations with Carpenter Investments with a view to drafting a Development Agreement including a consultation and stakeholder engagement plan, which would be reported back to a future meeting of Cabinet for approval
(2) That Cabinet give approval in principle for the Council to seek powers of Compulsory Purchase in order to facilitate redevelopment of the site, in the event that all other reasonable means to acquire vacant possession have proved unsuccessful, subject to the Developer indemnifying the Council against the associated costs.
Some revised plans were published on 2nd April 2009 - see Agenda Item 15 (labelled pages 323 to 335) at Wirral Council Agenda documents
These still do not contain a chandlery in the sailing centre. The key change in the plans is that the current lake users car park would be shared between the lake users and general public, with up to 80 spaces being made available for pay and display public use. Revenue from both car park sites would go to Carpenter Investments.
The Cabinet met on 9th April to consider the proposals. Hugh Daglish of West Kirby Working Group, and Cllrs John Hale and Geoff Green spoke aginast the plans, but the Cabinet decided to proceed to a financial assessment at their next meeting on 23rd April.
A report appeared in the Wirral News on 22 April suggesting that the hotel and sailing school project will not go ahead immediately, but that Carpenter Investments will be allowed a six month period to satisfy the Councils outstanding concerns. See
On 23 April, the Council Cabinet met in closed session. The minuted decision was
(1) That Cabinet thanks Carpenter Investments for their time and commitment to the Sail Project.
(2) That having regard to the matters identified in the report and the further information considered by members this evening, Cabinet instructs officers to undertake further discussions with Carpenter Investments and the appointed consultants, with a further report to be submitted to Cabinet in the next 6 months to enable it to take a final view on the future of the project.
Two online petitions against the Sail project have been set up:
http://wkirbyml.epetitions.net - a petition against the loss of parking for marine lake users.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/westkirbyhotel - a petition against the hotel.
New plans were released by Wirral Council / Carpenter Investments on 12.3.09 - see here. A decision is due by the Council Cabinet on 19.3.09. The public can attend.
Previous plans by Carpenter Investments (see also more pictures at the foot of this page):
At the Area Forum of 16th Feb, Council Officers announced that a decision will be made by the Council Cabinet on 19th March on whether to make Carpenter Investments the preferred developer. Papers will be available on the Council website from 12th March. These will include the developer's revised plans. Apart from beng permitted to view the plans via the internet, and being able to contact the Cabinet with their views, the public will not be consulted.
4 Dec 2008: Daily Post: The report from the council officers was said to recommend a 3-month extension to the lock-out agreement to allow Carpenter Investments to scale down their plans to a 40-bedroom hotel - see Liverpool Daily Post article.
The Council Cabinet decided to extend the 'lock-out' agreement with Carpenter Investments for a further three months at the meeting on Wed 10th Dec. The public were excluded from the discussion - the reason stated was "By virtue of Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information".
Papers connected with the Sail Project were not made available with the same reason given - so we did not know what was Jim Wilkie's recommendation to the Cabinet, which made it impossible for residents to respond. This was despite requests at the October Area Forum that two versions of the report should be produced, i.e. with and without exempt information.
The documents were released (in partly redacted form) at the end of December 2008. See the Carpenter Investments Report (marked confidential) submitted by to Wirral Council (12MB file).
An analysis of the 'Sail' questionnaires showed that none of the summaries that are in the public domain can be supported by the questionnaires released under the Freedom of Information Act - see the report on this website here
The Sail project was discussed at the West Wirral Area Forum of 28 October 2008. A show of hands was against the hotel proposal by about 200 to 5.
The questionnaires completed at the time of the June 2008 exhibition were released for public viewing on 27th October in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The summer 08 edition of Big Horizens (Wirral Council's investment newsletter) includes a section on the Sail (p5). See here.
It states "The Council's preferred developer Carpenter Investments recently undertook an extensive public consultation exercise and are now taking on board the feedback from the exhibition before moving forward with a planning application in 2009".
Carpenter's Exhibition: See July 2nd Liverpool Post article here.
Wirral Council Officers gave some details of the Consultation Process at the West Wirral Area Forum held in Hoylake on 11 June 2008. The forum was told that "a public exhibition of proposals is taking place on 25th to 28th June at the Concourse and a letter drop is being made, to all CH48 postcodes, advertising this" (see http://www.wirral.gov.uk/Minute/viewmins.asp?mtg=2648).
Cllr Hale requested that "Jim Wilkie look at having an impartial assessment on the outcome of the consultation on the sail, by developers, be carried out to ensure that it is a fair assessment of what the public want". This did not take place.
Carpenter Investments mounted a public exhibition on 26th/27th/28th June 2008 in West Kirby Concourse. No explanation was given for the short notice of the details of the Consultation. There was a letter drop to some CH48 residents, but not all received it. A website supporting the exhibition is at www.westkirbysail.co.uk.
The exhibition leaves a number of questions unanswered, and raises some more.
• What are the problems with the current sailing school?
• How much would they cost to repair (rather than demolish and rebuild)?
• What are the alternatives to the Carpenter Plan of a new hotel on the Dee Lane car park? There were four considered by the Cabinet when the Carpenter plan was selected. What were the other three plans and why was the Carpenters plan preferred?
• How many residents in CH48 actually received notification of the exhibition?
• How many people completed a feedback form?
• When did the feedback forms arrive at the exhibition? There were none available at the launch at 11am on 26th July - residents wanting to give feedback were told that the forms had not arrived from the printers.
The Councillors present at the Local Area Forum on 11 June 2008 expressed their disatisfaction that they had had no prior notice of the details of the Consultation. Cllr Hale urged that an impartial body should be involved in the Consultation Process. Cllr Hale had tried to make public the amount that Morrisons had paid for their adjacent land in an attempt to guage the value of the car park site, but both Morrisons and the Council refuse to publish this information. Cllr Hale did say, though, that the amount offered by Carpenters for the redevelopment of the Sailing School would represent a poor return for West Kirby in comparison.
There has been no mention of a public meeting at which questions could be asked.
The BBC Politics show on 15 June included an interview with Alan Beer. He stated "Providing that we receive some feedback that is positive and people are encouraged by what we do, we will be going for full planning later in the year."
See here for full interview
The Liverpool Daily Post carried an article on the plans on 21 June 2008 - see here
After some delays in this process, the Liverpool Daily Post reported on 1 May that Hilbre High School students will shortly be consulted by Carpenter Investments - see here
West Kirby was featured in a Times property column on 2nd May - see Times article. This include the rather depressing statement "There are, of course, residents who object to regeneration plans ..." as if healthy debate of the pros and cons is not welcome.
Some further details of the regeneration plans were revealed by Wirral Council Officers at the Local Area Forum held in West Kirby on 19 February 2008.
Carpenter Investments will be developing its plans and presenting them to West Kirby residents in the summer. It is understood to have a 12 month 'lock-out' agreement, ending in Jan. 2009. Within this time it must present plans and prove adequate consultation with residents.
The feeling of the meeting was overwhelmingly against the proposals on a show of hands.
Residents from West Kirby and Hoylake were told that the developer would be undertaking public consultation in the summer of 2008. There was much concern that the developer would be setting the questions and would not be fair in presenting a summary of the responses. Residents asked for an independent assessment of their views (such as from an independent reputable market research company) but this was not forthcoming from the Council Officers.
It was announced that the Council would be organising a further public meeting in West Kirby at the end of March when further discussion would take place.
Proposals to build the four-storey £10M hotel on the West Kirby Dee Lane car park site were announced by Carpenter Investments Ltd (www.carpenterinvestments.co.uk) in January 2008. On their website they describe the hotel as "a first class boutique style hotel together with associated spa, dining and new retail facilities". The company will be developing its plans and presenting them to West Kirby residents in the summer.
More can be read about it on Wirral Council's investment website
The Minutes for the Cabinet meeting of 12th December include
Minute 417 - REGENERATION & PLANNING STRATEGY: REGENERATION OF HOYLAKE AND WEST KIRBY : AN UPDATE
NOT FOR PUBLICATION: Exempt by virtue of paragraph 3, Part I, Schedule 12A (as amended), Local Government Act 1972.
Minute Text :
Members were updated on progress with plans to regenerate Hoylake and West Kirby and the support of Cabinet was sought to a number of recommendations.
Minute Decision :
Resolved - That
(1) the amendment of a condition within the lock-out agreement with the preferred developer for the Sail project - in accordance with para 3.5.7 be approved;
It seems that this was the meeting at which the lock-out agreement with Carpenter Investments was approved by the Cabinet, but no public announcement was made despite the importance to the people of West Kirby.
A Survey Report on the West Kirby Marine Lake Sailing Centre concluded that "Generally the building is in good condition requiring only standard maintenance, paint and repair.".
A draft (4.10.05) of the Council's development brief can be downloaded from www.wirral.gov.uk/Minute/Public/The%20Sail%20draft%20-%2005.10.05_17945.pdf, or from here.
More pictures from the Egret West website (www.egretwest.com):
The text on the "WHAT WE DO" page is
"WE CAN HELP YOU TO CHANGE OPINIONS, GET YOUR NAME IN THE HEADLINES, CREATE AN ADVERTISING SPLASH OR DELIVER A PROFIT-BUSTING MARKETING CAMPAIGN
"WE WILL HELP TO BOOST YOUR COMPANY'S SUCCESS AND EVERYTHING WE DO IS AIMED AT ENSURING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS"