On 10th January, the Society hosted a joint meeting of Committee members of the Wavertree, Woolton and Gateacre Societies, addressed by two officers from Liverpool City Council's Conservation Section: Steve Corbett (Team Leader) and Wendy Morgan (Principal Conservation Officer). It proved to be a useful and wide-ranging discussion, covering a number of issues which had been identified as being of concern to all three Societies: planning enforcement in Conservation Areas, highways work (including pavement repairs), the role of the Conservation Section in advising on planning applications, and the need for Conservation Area Appraisals (character statements) and Advisory Leaflets.
We came away from the meeting with a better understanding of how the Council works and why certain things are not done as well or as promptly as we would like. We hope that the officers went away with a better appreciation of our views, and our sense of frustration at not being able to persuade the Council to implement its own - and the government's - conservation policies.
Of particular concern to us was the discovery that the specialist post of Conservation Enforcement Officer has now been lost, which means that the Council now relies solely on members of the public to draw breaches of planning control to its attention (the insertion of unsuitable replacement windows, galvanized roller shutters, etc.). Also the confirmation that, since the splitting of responsibility for highway works between the City Council, Enterprise-Liverpool and Liverpool 2020, the 1999 agreement on surface materials and street furniture design in Conservation Areas is no longer in force. Another cause for concern was the fact that new planning legislation, introduced in 2004, means that it is now more difficult for Societies like ours to assist the Council with the preparation of Conservation Area Appraisals - one of the key factors in achieving compliance with the conservation 'rules' - and management plans.
There were, however, some more positive outcomes of the meeting:
- an agreement that the Council's Windows Advisory Leaflet - originally distributed in 2002 - would be reprinted and delivered door-to-door within our local Conservation Areas,
- an undertaking that the Planning Dept will consider involving local societies at an earlier stage in the discussion of major schemes,
- a target of reviewing the Conservation Area Advisory Leaflets for Wavertree Village, Wavertree Garden Suburb, Woolton Village and Gateacre Village within the next 12 months (incorporating material provided by the three Societies); and, last but not least,
- a series of walking tours of our local Conservation Areas, with the aim of bringing particular issues to the attention of the Council's officers at first hand.