Powerless to resist planners

HELP preserve our heritage!

That’s the appeal from Lytham St Annes Civic Society chairman Marion Coupe, who claims the community is more powerless than ever to prevent planning applications which she feels are threatening the historic legacy of Lytham and St Annes.

Mrs Coupe has called for councillors to stand together with residents in a bid to preserve the area’s heritage and made the plea: “Our town centres are not just for shopping – they are for community cohension, friendship and support.

“We need our councillors more then ever before.”

Writing in the current LSA Civic Society newsletter, Mrs Coupe highlights plans such as that to build an Aldi supermarket on the old St Annes Conservative Club site, to demolish part of the listed 111-year-old public offices in Clifton Drive North and to replace the Victoria Hotel on Church Road, dating from 1898, with retirement homes.

“We, the local community, are more impotent than ever before,” she says. “In the past, planning decisions were taken by the Planning Committee and, if controversial, could be ratified or otherwise by a full council meeting.

“This could lead to dramatic reversals, backed by public opinion.

These days, things are different. The majority of decisions are delegated to officers and few applications are debated by the Development Control Committee.

“Since the coming of Local Plans and Local Development Frameworks, outcomes are more predictable. Third parties such as us can do very little.

“There seems little room for manoeuvre any more. If an historic building is not listed or is in a conservation area, it has no protection, whatever local councillors or officers might think.”

For more on this story, see this week’s Express.