Pier fight blow

Protesters make point against plans for flats on Fleetwood Pier site.
Protesters make point against plans for flats on Fleetwood Pier site.

Two separate plans to challenge the controversial decision to approve a flats scheme on the former Fleetwood Pier site have been halted.

Fleetwood Town Council was looking to mount a judicial review to scrutinise and challenge the process by which Wyre Council arrived at its decision to grant the pier housing scheme in July.

Artist's impression of the Simmo Development plans in Fleetwood.

Artist's impression of the Simmo Development plans in Fleetwood.

But the town council has taken the advice of planning experts and decided not to seek a judicial review because of a high probability of losing the case and the sheer expense likely to have been involved.

The planning advice already taken has cost the council £500. However, the cost of actually taking legal action against Wyre Council could run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds, with failure being particularly costly because Wyre’s legal costs would have to be met as well.

In a separate development, Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has been knocked back in her bidto “call in” the planning decision by Wyre and get a senior Government minister to consider the matter in detail.

Coun Terry Rogers said: “Reluctantly the council has unanimously taken the decision not to pursue it.

“The town council opposed the flats scheme and was bitterly disappointed that it was approved by Wyre, but the report we have received showed us there were no grounds to challenge Wyre.

“Taking on a judicial review we could not win would have meant that the Fleetwood people would have to bear a sizeable amount of what could have been a very substantial legal bill for a lost cause.”

A fighting fund of £10,000 had been made available by Fleetwood Town Council to challenge Wyre’s decision.

And in a separate development, Fleetwood’s MP Cat Smith has been knocked back in her attempts to “call in” the planning decision by Wyre and get a senior Government minister to consider the matter in detail.

Ms Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleewod, said: “I am disappointed that Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse has not accepted my request he call in the planning application for Fleetwood Pier.

“By siding with Wyre Council this will no doubt be upsetting news for the people of Fleetwood who are overwhelmingly opposed to the huge development on our beautiful beach.

“The Minister says he wants to see this decision decided at local level, but I think it’s clear to anyone listening that local people do not want our sea front ruined by large buildings.”

The application by Simmo Developments to build 15 flats for the over-55s on the pier site was strongly opposed in Fleetwood, with many residents saying the large, modern building would spoil the town’s much loved seafront.

Wyre received more than 1,000 objection notices, while during the site visit by planners in July there was a placard-waving silent protest.

The green light for the scheme caused particular anger because in January, a virtually identical planning application had been rejected by Wyre, only to get approval five months later.

Wyre Council’s handling of the case was defended at the time by the then leader of Wyre, Coun Peter Gibson.

Coun Gibson, who has since been controversially voted off as leader, said there were no legitimate grounds to challenge the decision to approve the flats because there was nothing wrong with the process involved.