A view of Rosemary Lane in Formby. Image: Google Street View
Local residents in the picturesque town of Formby have joined forces to try and stop plans for a five-bedroom, three-storey development in the back garden of a semi-detached Victorian house.
Neighbours in the leafy suburb say they were not consulted prior to the application and that their privacy will be ‘destroyed’ if the building, complete with Juliet balconies, is erected ‘just a few feet away’ from their garden fences.
A local councillor and Lancashire Wildlife Trust are among those who have objected to Sefton Council about the planning application which, if it goes ahead, they claim, will set a dangerous precedent.
Around 170 people from the surrounding area have also signed a petition against the planning application for the property in the garden of a house in Rosemary Lane, Formby.
They claim the property plans show that the five-bed house, which would have a detached two-car garage, would impact on the privacy of at least six other properties in the surrounding area.
The area around Rosemary Lane is a haven for the rare red squirrel and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust believes felling of trees for the development would have an adverse impact on the local red squirrel population and their nests, which receive full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The coastal town of Formby is known for its beaches, dramatic sand dunes and pinewoods. The family-friendly area is also home to Liverpool and Everton footballers and has one of Merseyside’s most expensive streets, Shireburn Road, with houses selling for an average of £1.77 million.
David Irving, a councillor representing the Harington Ward of Formby on Sefton Council, lives in Rosemary Lane opposite the house where the proposed building work is due to take place.
He said the plans show developers intend to knock down the existing garage attached to the semi-detached house and put a drive through the first part of the garden to gain access to the land at the rear.
Cllr Irving, a retired Merseyside Police officer, told LiverpoolWorld: “I’ve lived in this street with my wife since 2016. The majority of the houses in this street were built around 1890 and have huge back gardens.
“Everybody in the area is pretty devastated about the plans. I think the land may have been sold subject to getting planning permission to build on it.
“The property would be overlooking the other houses and bungalows, not to mention the effect the building work would have on local wildlife - newts, toads, red squirrels and voles all inhabit the gardens.
“There is also planning for a septic tank so the house would not be part of the sewage system. I think this is something you would have on a country plot, not in a residential part of Formby.”
Residents who also live in the street, wrote to the council expressing their objections and said: “It is a very dangerous precedent to allow back building of this nature, not just for Rosemary Lane but for other parts of Formby and across Sefton as a whole.
“We have already seen increased building on green space and particularly on our flood plains. There are huge housing developments being built and more planned so why is it necessary to start infilling the spaces between existing houses?
“By allowing such developments we are losing homes which have substantial gardens and which are much sought after family homes. At a time when climate change is high on the agenda, we should not be allowing mature trees to be torn down and the natural habitat of endangered species to be destroyed.”
A couple from a neighbouring street, Sunningdale Gardens, objected to the plans, stating that the ‘positioning of a very large, three-storey building, only a few feet away from the garden fence’ of their property would ‘destroy’ their privacy.
They also claim a large proportion of the plot would be taken up by a gravel drive and the size of the garden would be too small for the proposed house.
“This is a very clear example of garden grabbing and would result in the loss of valued garden land in our neighbourhood,” they warned.
Another neighbour took to online forum nextdoor.co.uk stating: "This is one of the most shocking attempts at ‘town packing’ that I have ever seen and I’m saying this as an ex-Londoner!"
Ian Lyons, the company director of Lyons Estates, an independent sales and letting agency in Bootle, is listed in the planning documents as an agent acting on behalf of the applicant.
LiverpoolWorld contacted Mr Lyons for a comment.