Chris and I met with Steve Roberts at the end of last week. We discussed the St Luke’s tennis court application briefly, notably the HV comments on the boundary and the unrepresentative ‘mix’ of the housing offer in relation to NDP policy.
As a developer he was very honest about his aversion to such requirements, being financially constraining and at the same time, in his view, missing the point about a more fundamental need to “change the demographic” in order for the required longer term changes to happen.
We might read this terminology as an alternative wording for “gentrification”, but I have to say even that does not chime with what his company is in fact doing; that is, seeking out every opportunity, especially infill opportunities like this, to make money and maximise profit.
On the other hand, he did seem genuinely open to the less simplistic possibilities of how development can improve the lives of people and communities; he just can’t see where the commercial opportunities exist in Hoylake that might make that happen.
We also discussed the masterplan HS3 ambition and how, had timing been different, we might have been able to approach things differently, with the footprint of the Co-op site combined with the St Luke’s site providing an exceptional Town Square redevelopment opportunity at many levels should the Co-op ever decide to vacate which, given their current year on year losses, seems more likely as time goes by…
He seemed rather skeptical but he was interested.
Then coincidentally, within days, the Blue Anchor application popped into our in boxes.
So, we are at the point where I think we need to keep Steve Roberts engaged with us, get our Ward Councillors up to speed, and, perhaps, speak to the new applicants, to see if they might be interested in thinking again about their proposal.
This may well be overly idealistic but what’s the harm in trying?
There’s a much, much bigger reward for all concerned if it can be considered seriously… and I think we can convey that possibility.