04 July 2008 14:42
Re: planning DC 028122
Thank you for your e-mail. I have passed a copy of it onto the Council's
Tree Officer (Jim McGarrie) as well as to our Enforcement Officer (Dave
Westhead) asking them to visit the site as soon as possible and advise
the college that the trees be protected before any further works are
carried out. I will also contact the college and their advisors this
afternoon to discuss the matter with them.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
0161 474 3550
04 July 2008 14:22
Dear elected members,
I write to you with regards to your agreed
planning application number DC 028122 for Aquinas college. Work has
commenced on this new build and I would like to know who will be
policing this as the conditions of the planning application are not been
I draw your attention to condition number 5 below
5. No development shall take place until all existing trees
on the site except those shown to be removed on the approved plans, have been
fenced off at the limit of branch spread in accordance with BS:5837
'Trees In Relation To Construction' (1991). The fencing shall be
retained during the period of construction and no work, excavation,
tipping or stacking of materials shall take place within any such fence
during the construction period.
Reason: In the interests of the visual amenities of the area and having
regard to policies DCD1, DCD1.1 and DCD1.4 of the Stockport Unitary
Development Plan Review.
Work has commenced and we had had deliveries of Material, excavation
work had been carried out and yet our trees are going unprotected.
As a responsible council I trust you will ensure this matter is
rectified right away, and pass on the details of the person who is in
control of making sure the conditions are not accidentally broken again.
15 October 2008 20:35
Thank you for your message - we will ensure that we monitor your areas of concern.
Email sent 15 October 2008 19:37
Dear Ms Bracewell
Many thanks for your reply - it is much appreciated.
I am glad the LSC will meet regularly with the college to keep an eye on things. £42 million of taxpayers' money is a huge sum. I will keep checking under the FOI as to the outcome.
The areas of concern are:-
I believe £1.65 million was set aside to deal with this. If things aren't done properly, then the LSC will have paid a huge sum of money for a college in which parents will not have confidence to send their children. This is why at this stage the contamination issues have to be closely monitored. I am afraid things are done very badly in general in Stockport and it is up to council taxpayers such as me to keep an eye on contamination issues - the Council doesn't bother (documentary evidence available on request). The planning committee document dated 13/3/08 states:
"A geo-Environmental Report has been submitted with the application ........The report also asvises that there is contamination above Human Health assessment criteria throughout the site with the most significant hazards being within the existing area of open space to the west of the site. In order to remediate this area it is recommended that the site needs to be excavated to levels of up to 4m below ground to remove the contaminents and then refilled with imported material."
Local people tell me, and indeed I have seen for myself, that this has not been done. The ground certainly wasn't excavated to up to 4m below ground.
I have asked for the contamination disposal certificates from SMBC. These should have been in the Council's possession before building work started. I am not confident that Stockport Council will be able to provide these.
The LSC might like to check for itself at this early stage that contamination remediation has been carried out to the required level to avoid potentially embarrassing facts being revealed in the press at a later date, as mentioned, which might destroy confidence in the safety of the new college.
Of course, everything might have been carried out perfectly correctly, but given that building workers on this site have not had any protective clothing, this is something I have reason to doubt. As I work in a busy cancer centre, I know the misery that cancer can cause and to expose people unnecessarily to risk is unforgivable.
2) Local Open Space
The ground the College is taking is Local Open Space. It states in the town's Unitary Development Plan that replacement open space will have to be provided for current users. It states in the documents produced by the College for the planning application that there was dog fouling on the land, which indicates the land was being used by dogwalkers. I believe the College fenced it off to prevent people using it in the past, but it didn't stop them and as this is the only local open space in a very built up area - why should it have done? So, my feeling is that when the college is built, some open space will have to be set aside for the use of local residents, which is not featured in the current plans. The College could face repeated instances of mass trespass of local people and would face huge legal bills in prosecuting them with no guarantee of success, given what is stated in the UDP about replacement open space having to be provided. I think this replacement local open space should be negotiated with the College to avoid future expensive legal disputes or local people simply using the land with the consequent security issues for the college.
3) Playing Fields
Again from the planning committee document 13/3/08:-
"The playing field or playing fields which would be lost as a result of the proposed development would be replaced by a playing field or playing fields of an equivalent or better quality and of equivalent and better quantity, in a suitable location and subject to the equivalent or better management arrangements, prior to the commencement of the development."
Again, this is not the case and we cannot rely on SMBC to enforce planning conditions. Local people tell me that the College has prevented the public having access to the playing fields in the past. I do not know if this is true or not but have no reason to doubt local people.
4) Sports Hall
I note from documents seen under the FOI from the LSC that the sports facilities are to be a Stockport resource. Could you please, if you have time, let me know which citizens are likely to be able to use these facilities?
5) Increase in pupil numbers
Apparently because of past planning abuses, the College will not substantially be allowed to increase its pupil numbers. I know from documents seen at the College under the FOIA that the College is struggling financially. I think everything needs to be sorted out at this early stage, as expensive costs to deal with future problems is something the College would appear to have no funds to deal with.
If you have been, thanks for listening.
Despite Sport England's stipulations Aquinas College decided to deny local people their right to access to the replacement playing fields. Not very Christian of them, was it, especially after they got £42 million of public money to build their college.
Email sent - 16 May 2008 12:37
Dear Dr Smith
Having now had a chance to read through some of the relevant documents a few questions do spring to mind. I would send this to Greg Hill as you suggested but I don't have his email and I work in a busy cancer department and can't really spare the time to phone from work. If you let me have his email address I shall contact him in future.
The questions I have are:-
1) The college will need a sinking fund to pay for long-term monitoring of the contamination. Mr. Lamb would, I am sure, be able to confirm that in 2003 the Council demanded developers put aside £250,000 for longterm monitoring by experts of the Adswood site. Has the college accounted for this expense? Will the college or Government be funding this?
2) At the Adswood site there was concern for the surrounding properties and migration of gases, as I am sure Mr. Lamb would be able to confirm. (If not, then I have the documentary evidence). There would appear to be extremely high levels of CO2 and Methane in Zone A of your site. Has a sum been set aside for this potential problem with surrounding houses? If not I think I had better leaflet or knock on doors of the houses surrounding Zone A to tell local people to contact their insurers regarding possible future claims against the college. I believe there may be problems with migration of gas off-site, contamination of local properties during construction and I believe there are issues with the stability of the ground.
3) Given the very high levels of CO2 and Methane, I presume there will be venting of these gases in the area of the college buildings. Is this a correct assumption? From the contamination report Zone A has:-
Methane levels between <0.1 and 4.2v/v%. Elevated methane in boreholes 01 and 04.
CO2 levels <0.1 and 12.8v/v%. Elevated CO2 in boreholes 01, 02, 04, 05 and 06.
Waste Management Paper 27 recommends that private housing with gardens should not be constructed on landfill sites where the methane levels are in excess of 1% v/v or the carbon dioxide levels are in excess of 1.5% v/v., so the above figures are very high.
4) I note that when the buildings in Zone B are demolished, there may be further contamination discovered and potentially this could be very expensive to deal with. Has a contingency fund been set up for this? If it is included in the £42 million and there turns out to be no major problem, would that contingency fund money be returned to the Government?
I am delighted to note that Sport England insists that the playing fields facilities will be open to the wider community. I intend to work with Stepping Hill Area Committee and Victoria Area Committee to make sure the availability of these sporting facilities is well known to the young people of the area. I find many of the above-mentioned councillors indolent and disinterested in young people, but I am very good at wearing them down until they finally take some action. As I understand it the current facilities should be available for local young people to use.
I suppose you don't have to answer the above questions, but I would then take the issues to the funding authority.
Please pass on my very warmest best wishes to Domenic, his baby and, of course, his cycling shorts.
Email sent - 29 September 2008 19:29
Dear Mr Hill
Of course, you don't have to answer me but I would be grateful if you could confirm that the contamination remediation measures which have been carried out are in accordance with those recommended by Faber Maunsell in their report, who sadly felt it unnecessary to comply with BS 10175 in this instance, but never mind.
Also, I would be grateful if you would let me have details of the contaminated waste disposal facility which has been used for the dumping of the contaminated soils.
Many thanks if you are able to oblige.
Email sent - 13 May 2008 18:55
Dear FoI Officer
Regarding point 4. below, some of the land was/is playing fields. If Sport England is giving the community rights to it in the new development, then they had rights to it before/currently and point 4. is wrong. Local people would not be trespassing on the land - it would be their right to go on it. So, in accordance with the UDP the replacement open space at the college should be open to the public.
I really don't think the college would win a trespass case in court given the above.
Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:33 PM
Dear Mrs Oliver,
I am writing further to your request for information below.
For ease, your questions have been addressed in corresponding number order:
1. The application was advertised as a departure in the Stockport Express between 7th and 28th April 2007. Responses to this advertisement and the consultation exercise in general were given due consideration when the application was considered by the Victoria Area Committee and the Planning & Highways Committee.
Upon full consideration, the proposed development was not considered to be contrary to the UDP and as such, there was no requirement for it to be referred to the Secretary of State. The reasoning behind this is provided in the analysis of the application which is contained in the attached committee report.
2. This is explained in the attached report but there is no net loss of open space.
3. The response of the EA is explained in the attached report and the permission will include a condition to ensure that appropriate remediation of contamination is undertaken as part of the development.
4. The allocation of land as public open space in the UDP should not be confused with ownership. The UDP allocation is to protect open space for recreational and amenity purposes from a planning perspective; however much allocated open space is in private ownership (clubs, educational establishments etc.). Land can therefore fulfil an open space function in planning terms, yet remain in private ownership and therefore be subject to trespass. In this particular case the issue was not a substantive planning consideration.
Email sent to SMBC - 24 August 2008 13:23
Dear Ms Naven
I learn from local people that Aquinas College is massively ignoring the various planning conditions placed upon their new college development. This is making the lives of local people misery and is also causing damage to trees. Councillors and planning officers have been informed.
Please may I see any correspondence/communications between SMBC and Aquinas college regarding these infringements.
I also am told that work has started on the new college before the replacement land has been purchased from Stockport Sunday School. This should not have happened and we would need to get a story on Channel M and in the Manchester Evening News as to how this has been allowed to happen if this is indeed the case.
I look forward to hearing from you.