Firwood Building & DIY Supplies failed to apply for planning permission.
Photo by Tony Bonney
Firwood Building & DIY Supplies, which opened its doors on Monday 6th June, failed to apply for planning permission and change of use prior to opening.
Councillors are accusing them of knowing that they needed these permissions but kept everything top secret before opening and now need to apply for retrospective planning.
Cllr Maria Bennett of Ravenmeols Ward has said;
"Whilst we welcome any new business to Formby who provide employment to people who live in Formby, my concern here is that Firwoods have not been open or transparent in their dealings.
They clearly knew they needed Planning Permission and a Change of Use for the site but decided that they would not apply for it and just open up anyway.
This business is suited to an industrial site and not in a residential area right next to a conservation area. It appears that they think they can just do what they want and are making a mockery of the planning system.
I have received many complaints about this business and in fact many residents kept going over and asking what it was going to be but they were under strict instructions not to give any information out to anyone.
Why, you may well ask if what they were doing was legal and they had applied for all the relevant consents then why not tell people. The answer is that they did not apply for the relevant consent, planning permission or change of use, they have clearly not been honest, open or transparent in what they were doing and giving local residents to speak out on their planning application if they had submitted one, which they are legally entitled to do However what they decided to do is popup overnight as a builders merchants, with signage that can only be described as "in your face" with no regard to traffic management for deliveries, opening hours or indeed local residents and then try and apply for retrospective planning permission.
All this has done is infuriate local residents who live round there and do not wish to look out on a builders merchants. They may well think that what they have done is clever but I, as the Ward Councillor, have asked to be kept fully informed as to when their planning application is submitted and also that it is brought before the full planning committee to consider, thus giving all residents the opportunity of speaking out on it. This is what is open and transparent"
She went on to say;
"Here is the document I received from the Enforcement Department at Sefton Council having raised Firwoods with the Planning together with Cllr Bob McCann who had received complaints from residents."
Dear Cllr Bennett
Site Address: 88-100 Church Road, Formby, L37 3NG
Alleged Breach: Change of use from garage and car sales to builders merchants and signage requiring advertisement consent.
I refer to your complaint in relation to the above.
Following our investigations and a site visit, I consider that planning permission is required for this development. Under the circumstances, Firwood Timber & Plywood Co Ltd has been advised that they are at liberty to submit a retrospective planning application. Should an application be received you will be formally notified of
the proposal and asked for written comments.
I have received confirmation from their Agent that they intend to submit a retrospective planning application for the change of use.
Alternatively to remedy the breach of planning control the unauthorised use should cease and the signage removed.
Cllr Bob McCann of Ravenmeols ward also added:
"I have been contacted by several residents who neighbour this development and who object to it. They have several concerns not least of which is the existence of the old fuel tanks that have not been removed.
Aside from the safety issues, the overall look of this outlet is not in keeping with a residential area and the problems with large heavy vehicles are already prevalent.
I will be working with both the residents and councillor Maria Bennett to submit the strongest objection when the planning application is eventually submitted.
It is yet another example where the planning authority of the Borough Council has been treated with contempt and where they need to step up and take action. It beggars belief why a company who were refused permission to trade on the industrial site across the bypass can be allowed to site themselves in a residential area.
I would encourage any resident or business, who wish to object, to raise their concerns either directly with the Borough Council or via myself and other councillors."
Firwood declined to comment and said: "It is not the way we do things and we have no wish to fight through the press".
We will keep you updated on this story, if you have any comments, please tell us.
Photo by Tony Bonney