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National Trust Gains Approval for Controversial Car Park Project, Caravan Park's Future still in Limbo

The National Trust has been granted planning permission by Sefton Council to build a new car park at Victoria Road in Formby and remove rubble from the beach, a decision that has stirred mixed reactions within the community. Critics argue that the council's refusal was weak, citing concerns over asbestos contamination from the rubble rather than the impact on trees.

The approved project involves trundling trucks through Formby to transport some of the rubble to Kirkby waste, raising concerns about airborne asbestos and other pollutants. This effort, aimed at creating a car park with a 25-year lifespan, has been met with frustration from residents who question its long-term benefits.

One particularly contentious issue is the fate of the Formby caravan site, which holds a lease for another five to six years. Despite National Trust's efforts to negotiate an early surrender of the lease, the caravan site operators remain resolute. The site currently allows pedestrian access, but vehicle restrictions have led to accusations of discrimination against elderly and disabled caravan owners who struggle with the limited accessibility.

"We are not giving up," stated a representative from the caravan site. "We will continue to fight for our rights until the lease expires. The National Trust's negotiations have been minimal at best, and we are left marooned without vehicle access."

The National Trust, however, emphasises the ecological benefits of the project. According to their statement, the rubble removal will reconnect and restore sand dune habitats crucial for rare wildlife, such as natterjack toads and sand lizards. The new car park is intended to provide a safer, more natural space for visitors while addressing the issues posed by Formby’s shifting coastline.

Construction is set to begin in winter 2024 and continue until spring 2026. During this period, access to the beach, car park, and toilets at Victoria Road will be closed, though the Lifeboat Road car park will remain open. The Trust assures that most of the rubble will be repurposed for the new car park, and alternative travel options will be promoted to reduce traffic.

The decision also includes measures to mitigate the impact on local traffic and pedestrian routes. The Sefton Coastal Footpath will be temporarily diverted, but public access will be maintained, ensuring pedestrian priority over construction traffic.

While the National Trust celebrates this as a victory for conservation, the caravan site community remains steadfast in their opposition. They continue to call for more substantial negotiations and fair treatment until their lease runs its course.

As the project progresses, the community will be closely watching the National Trust's actions and their impact on both the environment and local residents.



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