Supporters of Ashton Gardens

SOAG exists to protect, preserve and enhance Ashton Gardens

The Ashton Institute before its removal


SOAG's 2005 Campaign

The Closing Stages

SUMMARY : January to July 2005
"Flowers not Flats" logoPermission for the Judicial review is refused. The Council asks 20 other groups to support its lottery bid. We apply to register most of the pathways through the gardens as the rights of way we believe them to be. The Council refuses to disclose the terms of the land disposal to Newfield Jones, and Newfield submit a revised version of their planning application.

The Treasury Solicitor working for the Attorney General determines the gardens were a charitable gift, but is persuaded by the Council's argument that selling the land would benefit the charity and is therefore permissible. 

SOAG go on to speak at the planning meeting and ask for the planning application to be deferred. The developer announces a new plan to be deposited the following day that will move the building away from the disputed footpath.

We ask the Charity Commission to remind Fylde Council of the need to register the gardens. They do so.

SOAG writes to several community groups asking them not to support a lottery bid that involves the sale of any of the gardens. We meet with the Council to hear the Council's latest (Mk3 version) masterplan for the Gardens and are not encouraged.

SOAG has a lively AGM. One of the groups asked to support the lottery bid tells SOAG they will not do so.  SOAG forms a technical committee to look into the plan for the latest lottery bid in detail. It meets twice and recommends to SOAG's executive Committee that this version of the bid should not be supported. A second group decides not to support the bid. SOAG's Executive Committee supports the technical group recommendation and writes to say it is unable to support this version of the bid.

SOAG challenges the denial of the right of way at the planning meeting. We write to Government office North West, asking then to take the decision out of Fylde's hands. They decline to do so. The planning committee approve the second Newfield planning application without seeing plans that were deposited the day before the meeting and before the date for objections to be received. They get around this by delegating the actual decision to an officer, to be made on the day after the objection period expires.


12 January 2005 

Fylde planners advise that Newfield's application will not go to the February meeting of the planning committee. Discussions are ongoing.

25 January 2005 

SOAG's application for a Judicial Review is refused. The court said that whilst it recognises the very significant volume of objection to the sale, and agrees that the Council did fail to address all the matters properly, they believe that overall, the Council understood the extent of the objections, and the Council's shortcomings in the matter are not sufficient to invalidate the decision they made.

In effect, this decision acknowledges that Fylde Council decided to set aside more than 7,500 objections to their plan to sell part of the gardens.

Naturally, we are disappointed that Fylde Council has failed to respond to your objections. We would like to thank the 7,500 or so people who sent objection letters or signed the petition. We would also like to express our grateful thanks to all those who have contacted us over the last few weeks with messages of support and encouragement. On your behalf, we will continue to use all lawful means to oppose the sale of any of the gardens.

3 February 2005

Fylde Council writes (late) to the Government supporting Newfield's request for a certificate of immunity and opposing the listing of the buildings.

14 February 2005

SOAG learns from Councillor Mrs. Pagett that we, along with 21 other groups are to be invited to a meeting with the Council to hear the latest plan for the lottery bid. It is evident that the Council are trying to find alternative ways of generating support for their new version of the lottery bid.

The groups identified as potential community supporters of the bid are: 

  • Ashton Bowling Club Cafe Proprietor ( Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • Park Users 

  • Young People (Youth & Community) 

  • Police ( Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • SOAG ( Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • LSA Civic Society (Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • Community Service (Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • County Museums 

  • St Annes Traders 

  • Newfield Jones ( Developer) 

  • St Annes Regeneration Unit 

  • Age Concern 

  • Ward Councillors (Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • Arts Development 

  • St Annes Parish Council (when formed) 

  • Task & Finish Group 

  • Gardeners 

  • Church representative 

  • Schools rep ( High School) (Cllr Pagett to contact) 

  • Citizens Advice Bureau (Cllr Pagett to contact)

It is anticipated that the above are invited to a meeting to: Present the Finalised Restoration Management Plan Outline the timetable for the bid and restoration work Request support for the bid through letters General discussion on `Friends' activities

The meeting will be held in approx. 6 weeks when the prioritisation of the bid is completed. 

17 February 2005

SOAG investigates the possibility of registering the gardens as a village green.

18 February 2005  

FBC planners advise that the Newfield planning application will not go to the March planning committee.

21 February 2005 

SOAG's Executive Committee hear Councillor Mrs. Pagett outline the view that selling part of the gardens is a price worth paying for the lottery bid, and that SOAG will be one of the 21 groups that will be asked to a meeting and then to express support for the bid. The Committee resolves to attend the meeting and send the Chairman to represent them. They also resolve to write to the 21 other organisations setting out SOAG's objection to the sale of the land.

10 March 2005 

SOAG asks to see the terms of the sale of land as approved by the Council's Executive Committee

16 March 2005  

SOAG submits its application to register most of the pathways through Ashton Gardens as rights of way. The requisite forms are completed and sent to the County Council and landowners or tenants of the gardens.

18 March 2005   

Fylde Council replies to SOAG's request to see the terms of the sale of land. Under the Freedom of Information Act, they are obliged to disclose whether they hold the information and in most cases what the information is. The Council admit to holding the information in the form of a committee report and draft heads of terms that were agreed by the committee, together with an accompanying plan. However, the Monitoring Officer has concluded that public interest in maintaining the exemption from disclosure does outweigh the public interest in disclosing the information, and refused to disclose the information that the council holds regarding the terms of sale of the land. Dissatisfied with this answer, SOAG asks again for the same information. The Council reply "Given that you have requested the information again after the decision no to disclose the next stage of the process under the Freedom of Information Act is to have the request and the decision examined by a third party. The council has a partnership arrangement with Wyre Borough Council to review such requests. The details of your request have been sent to Wyre for them to review."

21 March 2005 

Fylde Council planners advise that the latest set of landscaping plans have now been received from Newfield Jones and are available for public inspection. The plan is not significantly improved from the previous one in respect of its impact on the gardens.

25 March 2005 

SOAG's Executive Committee hear that our application to the Attorney General was being handled by Treasury Solicitor in the Charities division. At first, he said orally: 

  •  Council have given an undertaking not to sell land whilst the matter is being considered. 

  • Council has accepted that the Gardens are a charity 

  • Charity Commission will pursue the Council to register the gardens as a charity 

  • To be able to sell any of them, Council must prepare a scheme of sale and persuade the AG that disposal is meritorious under charity law 

  • He also thought the Council would have to prove they can deliver on the overall scheme before being allowed to sell any of them 

  • Also said SOAG and others would be able to make comment and representations before any decision to sell.

Then Council has not announced the charitable decision, and a follow up from our solicitor elicited that the Treasury Solicitor has released the Council from its undertaking not to sell the land.

The position has changed to our disadvantage. Although they are constrained by Section 36 of the Charities Act, the Council has argued that under Section 6 of the Trust and Land Act, they also have an inherent power to sell land held in trust if the object of the sale is to benefit the trust. On behalf of the Attorney General, the Treasury Solicitor has accepted this argument, so in effect, he has changed his position, and the land may be sold without further representation provided the proceeds are reinvested in the charity.

The scales have now tipped against us preventing the sale of the land, although we have achieved a requirement for the Council to register the land as a charity, and future actions will be for the benefit of the charity, not the corporate good of the Council. 

28 March 2005 

SOAG's Executive Committee meets to consider the position. Kath Bloch, Audrey Preston and Jon Harrison agree to join Fred Moor in speaking against the Newfield Jones application at the public oratory session at the planning committee that will consider them. On a proposition from Gordon Harvey, the committee also reaffirms its intention to stand by its previous position statement to oppose the sale of the institute even if the income is spent in the gardens and to oppose the sale of any gardens land.

30 March 2005 

SOAG's solicitor writes to the Charity Commission saying that whilst we appreciate the gardens are subject to Charity Law even though they have not been registered he expresses our concern that the gardens have not yet been registered and asks the Charity Commission to confirm that they will take steps to require the Council to discharge its duty.

4 April 2005  

SOAG produces a booklet on the History of the Ashton Institute based on research work undertaken for listing. It offers the booklet for sale to help raise funds for the gardens.

8 April 2005 

Lancashire County Council tell SOAG that the application to register the footpaths through the gardens is a valid application, and will determine whether to add the paths to the definitive footpath map within the next 12 months.

13 April 2005 

SOAG representatives plan their presentations at the Planning Committee that will consider the Newfield Landscaping plan. Kath Bloch will deal with matters from the bowling perspective, Audrey Preston with access, Jon Harrison with security arrangements and Fred Moor with layout, technical issues and the pathway.

15 April 2005 

It becomes clear that the Council are not going to have a meeting of all invitees to discuss the new lottery scheme, but individuals are to be invited one at a time. SOAG had delayed writing to the other invitees, in the expectation of being able to present its case at the meeting. However, the meeting format now prevents SOAG from doing this, so the Committee's decision to write to each group is activated, and SOAG asks them not to support the sale of the land as part of the lottery bid. See the text of the letter here.

15 April 2005 

In response to preliminary enquiries, Fylde's planners say that if Newfield were to trespass into the gardens with construction arrangements, (we assume foundations and drains etc that we had asked about) it would be a matter of fact and degree as to whether the encroachment was material or de-minimus. (In layman's terms we take this as meaning "it doesn't matter to us")

21 April 2005  

The Charity Commission write to SOAG's solicitor saying "Thank you for your letter of 30 March. I have today written out to Fylde Borough Council to advise them of their responsibility to register the land known as Ashton Gardens at Lytham St Annes"

SOAG issue a press announcement of this good news. The council respond to the paper saying "We are still in talks with the Charities Commission regarding Ashton Gardens. Therefore it is too early to come to conclusions over this matter"

26 April 2005 

Meeting with SOAG and FBC Officers and members to hear the Council's plans for the latest changes to the lottery bid. There is just over 3 million worth of work needed to restore the gardens. The Council will limit expenditure to 2 Million, thus some of the work that was planned has been dropped, or cheapened in quality or reduced in extent. The present scheme is being called Phase 1, but there is expected to be another scheme at a future date for less than 1 million. The key item in the new bid is a 0.5 million programme to relocate the Ashton Institute on the site of the old Ashton Pavilion Theatre and create an entertainments space between it and the lodges on St George's Road.

The existing cafe is to be demolished, and the site temporarily landscaped. Ultimately, it is planned to have a "Winter garden" building on the site of the present cafe, but there are no firm plans for the nature and the use of this proposed building at the present time. Mr. Bell commented that it would need to have a "sound business case" attached to it.

SOAG's Chairman made notes of the meeting. They set out the vision and some of the details. The notes are available here. They give a good insight into the thinking behind the Council's latest revision of the plan  

27 April 2005 

Newfield's reserved matters planning application (delayed from 4th November last year) is heard by the planning committee. Click here to read the SOAG Press release regarding this meeting. The plan was approved despite Newfield saying they were about to submit an entirely new application.

27 April 2005

Council officers issue Newfield's planning permission straight away, even though previous similar decisions have had to be referred from planning to the full council for final determination because it involves planning permission on the Council's own land, and the Council has always decided such matters. SOAG challenge the practice and are told that the Council has just changed the rules by which they operate, and are no longer obliged to refer such decisions the full council.

28 April 2005

The (almost) final plan from Newfield JonesNewfield submits a new planning application that moves the building 2.9 metres away from the gardens. 

The strip of land where the Ashton Institute veranda stood is now open to the gardens at its end, (by the arrow) but is otherwise enclosed with the garden wall of the flats. Newfield are to be given rights of access over it.

The building now clears the pathway in the event that it becomes listed on the definitive map once our application for registration is heard (Probably in August). 

However, the pathway has been diverted at one end, so it appears the path only goes to the main door of the flats. 

At the other end, the developer proposes  to plant a tree in the middle of the path, again making access less obvious and more difficult for path users. 

The path is also planned to be surfaced in gravel, making it virtually impassable for prams and wheelchairs.

Although listed as an amendment, this is a full new planning application. 

Most importantly, whilst other applications have recognised the existence of the right of way within the development site, this one attempts to deny its existence. 

Fylde Council are challenged on this but refuse to consider the matter. Like Pontius Pilate, they say it is an issue for the developer. This is quite disgraceful behaviour for a body that exists to balance the competing interests of developers and the public.

29 April 2005  

SOAG's Annual General Meeting. In parts, a vibrant, lively meeting. From the floor, the member who resigned from SOAG's Executive Committee spoke to the Chairman's report, saying that, in his view, it was not an accurate reflection of the events of the year. In particular he criticised the Chairman specifically for what he saw as his numerous failings to compromise with the Borough Council, and for risking the opportunity to obtain up to 2 million investment for the Gardens by nor being willing to agree to the sale of part of the Gardens. These views did not appear to be universally shared by members present, and the Chairman indicated that those present could, should they so wish, vote against receiving the report. You can read the Chairman's Report here You can also read an update of the report provided at the meeting.

Secondly Councillor Mrs. Barbara Pagett sought the floor under "Any Other Business" and, having previously indicated that she had changed her mind and now supported the sale of part of the gardens to fund the lottery bid, she proposed changes to the group's constitution, the effects of which would be:

1. to remove the reference to protecting and preserving Ashton Gardens from our statement of purpose, leaving our role only as being for the enhancement of certain facilities and amenities in Ashton Gardens.

2. to prevent the use of the group's accumulated funds for legally contesting the Borough Council's decisions regarding the sale of land etc.,

3. to require, what she termed, "important decisions" to be put to a referendum of the full membership rather than being debated and determined by SOAG's elected Executive Committee.

The meeting voted the receive the Chairman's report and none of the constitutional changes was agreed.

The meeting did agree to set up a Technical Sub Committee to look in detail at the Council's new plan for the lottery scheme. The Chairman asked for those willing to volunteer for the sub committee to contact him after the meeting.

1 May 2005  

A representative of the other groups asked to support Fylde's lottery bid contacts SOAG saying that, having been briefed on the plans by FBC officers and members, his personal gut feeling is that this plan is not right for St Annes-on-the-sea. He does not believe the Council's new scheme will be in sympathy with the period character of the gardens. He had been hoping the scheme would produce something like this picture he recently took in Ripon, but he does not believe this is the aim of the new lottery scheme.

A period garden in Ripon, Yorkshire

5 May 2005  

Newfield's latest planning application (now numbered 05/0413) appears in the Express public notices listed as an amendment to the previous planning application numbered 04/955. It is not an amendment, but a completely new full planning application. The closing date for objections is 21 days from the date of the notice. Amazingly this is after the date at which the planning committee will consider the application. SOAG challenge this practice and are told that the committee could decide to approve the plan in principle, but delegate the actual decision to the Chief Planning Officer so it can be made after the closing date for receipt of objections is passed.

This is quite disgraceful behaviour and shows a complete disregard for the views of objector to be taken into account by the elected representatives.

7 May 2005

SOAG's first Technical Sub Group (including retired Leisure, Environmental, and Architectural professionals) meet to consider the revised lottery scheme in principle. They note with concern some the changes that have been made from the original scheme that was approved in public consultation, but are unable to quantify the extent of some of the changes. They ask the Council again for details of the proposed costs or at least the percentage of the whole sum that will be spent on each of the jobs within the gardens. The next meeting is fixed for 18 June.

10 May 2005

 SOAG challenges the Council's planners regarding the fact that the second Newfield Jones application (05/0413) contradicts both the outline and the reserved matters application when it says there is no right of way within the application area. We ask "Given that the area is the same, and 0413 is deposited as an amendment to the two previous applications, can you please explain why this current application fails to declare the right of way?"

SOAG also note that the new plan shows the route of the right of way changed to include a "dogleg" at the St George's Road end. and ask whether it is intended that the Council will undertake the statutory procedure to divert the way, or ask the Highway Authority to do so?

11 May 2005 

The Council's response is "With regards to the right of way declaration, you are correct instating that the applicant has not ticked the appropriate box on the application form to say that the proposal affects a right of way. I have again checked with the applicant who has confirmed that, in their view, the proposal does NOT affect any right of way. Furthermore, the path is not marked as a right of way on the Definitive Rights of Way map. As such, as far as the Council is concerned, the application form is correct." With regard to the dogleg, SOAG is referred to the Council's head of legal services.

SOAG respond:

The Right of Way
I regret we are going to disagree here. The two previous application forms, numbered 01/0474 and 05/04/955, were submitted by him. They included his declaration that a right of way did exist within the development site. If the developer now seeks to change that situation, it should form part of the amendment he now submits.

Whether the way is marked on the definitive map is immaterial. As you will know, the existence of a right of way depends, not on its being recorded on the DMO, but on established use. We have submitted evidence to the Highway Authority from more than 30 users of the way covering a period of more than 60 years use. The Highway Authority has accepted our claim as being valid. The developer declared it to be a right of way on both his outline application form, and on his reserved matters application form. No change to this information was made at or by the Committee, the Council or in any of the officer reports to them. It is therefore part of his approved permission and at some point a footpath closure process would have been required to effect construction of the building.

It seems to me that either the developer should seek a change to the right of way declaration of his existing permissions (perhaps as part of this current amendment?), or his form can not be valid and should be rejected - just as you have ruled his earlier applications containing such technical errors "invalid".

It also seems to me that irrespective of whether the application form is correct or not, as a responsible planning officer you have a separate duty to establish whether a right of way exists within the application area, and if so, to ensure the applicant carries out the necessary procedures with regard to it, including conditioning his planning permission if appropriate. Do you not accept it is part of your responsibility to protect or at least balance the interests of users of rights of way as part of the planning process?, or is it that you have already decided that a right of way does not exist?

If the latter, you may wish to consult the County legal division that is dealing with the registration of the ways in Ashton Gardens. Our DMMO application number with them is 804/422.

I hope you will review your approach, but we will also take it up with others.

Diversion of the right of way 
I am sorry, my question was badly expressed, I will try rephrasing it.

I imagine we can agree that, if the right of way exists, it will require a diversion order to change it to the route shown on the latest amended plan. However, given that the applicant now denies the existence of the right of way, he appears to believe this will not be necessary.

Irrespective of the developers view, as the planning officer, you should establish whether the right of way exists in order to properly deal with the application before you - not least to protect the interests of existing footpath users.

That said, the developer could, as an alternative, prepare a further amended plan showing the path following its existing line, without the "dog-leg" to the front door of the apartments. This would avoid the need for a diversion of course.

13 May 2005 

A committee member from another of the groups invited to support the Council's lottery bid also contacts SOAG and says "My strong belief is that Ashton Gardens, like Lowther, should be returned to their original Victorian Glory." He goes on to say that in his view, their group should oppose the lottery grant for any purpose other that this.

16 May 2005

The Council confirm that they are not able to sell the land under the veranda of the Ashton Institute to the developer (because they forgot to include it in the area advertised for disposal), so they will grant the developer a right of access over it for maintenance purposes. This means a tongue of land still within the Gardens and part of the public open space and available for public access will lie within the garden area of the apartments.

17 May 2005 

The Council publish its report on the latest Newfield Jones application. It includes the statement that "Given ..... the issue regarding the designation of the internal pathways within the Park as Public Rights of Way, the applicant has elected to relocate the position of the building 2.9m to the north east."

SOAG maintain that this current application form contradicts the applicant's previous declarations that a right of way existed, both on his 'outline' and his 'reserved matters' application forms submitted to, and subsequently approved by, the Council.

SOAG also asks for the item to be deferred to a future meeting because there is not time between the deposition of the revised plans on 9 May and the date of the committee on 25 May for people to consider this major application and make proper objections. Specifically, the 21 days period is not being met in this regard. 

18 May 2005

The Council respond to the right of way and request for deferment

"With regards to point no. 3, (The Right of Way) the applicant has amended the form, in that he states that the development does not affect a public right of way. As such, the application has been determined on the basis of the application form submitted. As far as the Council is concerned at present, the path is not a public right of way, however, as you are aware the Council is currently considering the issue.

With regards to point no. 4, (Diversion of the right of way) I can agree that if the public right of way does legally exists and shown on the Definitive Right of Way Map, it will require a diversion order to change the route. At present, the applicant does not believe this to be necessary at this moment in time.

With regards to point no. 5, (Which committee it will go to) The statutory notice published in the newspaper is in fact dated the publication of the newspaper. This statutory period of notification expires on 26th May. As previously advised, the application will be presented at the next DC committee on 25th May. If Members are minded to approve the application, there will be a resolution to approve the application, but the decision will be made by the Delegating Officer (ie, the business Unit Manager) on the expiry of the press notice.

With regards to the consultation period, the original statutory consultation letters were sent out on 28th April, of which the statutory 21 days was given for comments to be made to the application. This therefore expires on 19th May, which is 6 days before the date of the meeting at which the application is to be determined. Following the submission of amended plans, there is no statutory requirement to reconsult on the submission of amended plans, however, normal practise is to carry out reconsultation to interested parties, and give either 7, 10 or 14 days upon which to make observations. The Council took the view in this instance to give respective parties 14 days upon which to respond. These letters are dated 11th May. Furthermore, the alterations proposed in the amended plans are minor in the overall scheme of works and are not material to the issues covered by yourself."

SOAG reply 
On behalf of SOAG, I will submit a written objection as soon as practical. Sadly because of time constraints, I will not be able to check as much of the detail as I would have liked. You will know of my dislike for standing on insecure ground, but needs must in this instance.

I am truly disappointed that you do not perceive the need for the planning system to protect the users of this facility, and without seeking to be argumentative, I remain entirely convinced you are wrong in your perception of the definitive map being the arbiter of rights of way.

It is true that a way marked on the DMO is proof of its existence, but the reverse of both conditions is not true.

If you consult the DETR/Countryside Commission publication, "Guide to Definitive Map Procedures" you will see it sets out the position at section 14

"Rights may exist over a way not shown on the definitive map, even though they are not recorded on it, or rights may have been recorded in error" 

19 May 2005  

The Council's planning officer replies with "With regards to point no. 2, the comment made in the committee report regarding the designation of the internal pathways .... was merely a statement made in the report relating to the ongoing issue of the pathway, and was not an acceptance by the Council that the internal pathways within the Park are Public Rights of Way.

Again the next point regarding the application has been addressed in my previous e mail to you. I can confirm that I have again, spoken with the applicant to request whether in his view the path is a Right of Way, of which he has confirmed he doesn't consider it to be. As such, as far as I am concerned, the application form is correct." 

20 May 2005 

The Council is about to consider the latest planning application from Newfield Jones, (the one where the date for receiving objections is after the date of the meeting). The new plan is said just to move the building. In fact it changes the footprint of the building, removes windows and balconies, makes the flats smaller, reduces car parking still further and denies the existence of the right of way. Its main (unstated) purpose is to provide a fall back position if, as we hope, the highway authority declare the paths to be rights of way, so although it leaves space for people to walk along the side of the building along the contested pathway it diverts the route in a dogleg so that it appears you are walking up to the door of the flats (this will discourage people from entering the pathway) and it is shown to be surfaced in loose gravel - which is impossible for pushchairs, wheelchairs and elderly people to walk along.

SOAG send every Councillor on the planning committee a detailed objection setting out why this application should not be approved. See the full text of the objection here

20 May 2005

SOAG write to the Government Office North West explaining that the Council is set to approve the application, and asking Government Office North West to call in the application and take the decision out of the hands of Fylde Council. See the letter here.

Government Office North West reply to say that in their view, the main matter to which we drew attention was the new Housing Policy. They took into account the fact that there was an existing outline planning permission and a reserved matters permission already in place. They noted that although it was for full approval, it was mainly for re-siting the building to overcome interference with the existing footpath, and it was considered an amendment to previous plans. They determined that there was not sufficient conflict with national planning policies to warrant calling in this application for his own determination. He therefore left it as a matter for the local authority to determine. 

21 May 2005  

The Planning committee approved the planning application. SOAG's chairman attended the meeting. His personal notes to SOAG's committee were as follows:

The FBC planning committee meeting was probably even less good than expected.

In all my years in local government, I don't think I have seen a worse display of disregard for protocol and partial conduct by what should be impartial officers.

It put me in mind of the meeting we went to where Councillors considered our 8,000 objections to the sale of the land. - Heads down, hardly anything said, but the voting arms go up.

It was voted through in virtual silence by all except one person, Councillor Howard Henshaw.

Barbara Pagett declared a prejudicial interest and left the meeting before this item. George Caldwell declared a personal interest and also left.

This left Councillors Hardy (Kirkham), Henshaw (St Annes), Pounder (Staining), Norsworthy (Lytham), Eastham (Fairhaven), Bennett (Kirkham), Speak (Treales), Chew (Singleton), Walton (St Annes) and the Chairman Butler (Westby) to make the decision. As you will see it was chiefly people who were not from  St Annes that  decided the matter.

Planning officer Julie Cary opened the item saying it was a full application so it was open to debate all issues.

She also said another set of landscaping plans had arrived yesterday, (but these were not produced or shown to the committee!)

She explained that the building had been repositioned, the windows deleted from the police station elevation and balconies and windows altered.

She said SOAG had provided a letter of objection that had been circulated to members on the "late comments" sheet.

She also said that because the period for objections expired the day after the meeting, if the wanted to approve it, they should delegate the decision to approve it to the chief officer, and he would approve it the day after the objection period expired.

Cllr Eastham asked about the right of way and Ian Curtis (Legal) gave an accurate response to say SOAG had applied for it to be included on the definitive map, but that it could be a right of way even if it wasn't. He said the County's best estimate of when the matter would go to committee was the autumn of this year.

They added the date of the new plans into condition 15 (to make the new plans binding on the developer).

Walton and Eastham expressed concern about resident security but were told this was a "better" than the previous one (I would have said less bad).

Howard Henshaw said he thought it looked like a prison camp block and he would definitely not be voting for it

It was proposed and seconded by Councillor Colin Walton and Councillor Kevin Eastham

All except Howard Henshaw voted to approve the new set of plans (without even seeing the ones that arrived the previous day). 

24 May 2005 

SOAG ask Fylde Council when the details they requested for the Technical analysis of the lottery bid will be available. They reply on 27th "Sorry for my delay in response. Donald Insall are currently amending the costings within the buildings historic appraisal, this should be complete by Tuesday 31st May. Scott Wilson will then build these costs into the overall cost plan .This will be complete by Friday 10th June. I should be able to let you have something by 15th June.

14 June 2005 

Fylde Council say: "In response to your request for additional information about the lottery reprioritization's have enclosed our priority list for you to discuss with your technical sub group. You will note that orange depicts items included within the phase 1 bid, blue are items where we have a choice ie option 1 or 2 or we will be including within a future bid and yellow is work that is being undertaken by others. If you are in position to put your support to the reprioritised bid I could do with a letter ."

The costs we asked for have been deleted from the table. They go on to say "Unfortunately due to the costs being commercially sensitive I an unable to provide you with these or the percentage apportionment. All we are asking SOAG to comment on is whether the principle of a HLF bid to restore Ashton Gardens is welcomed. If you feel it is and can say so I would be grateful, if not I would regretfully have to submit the bid without your support." 

18 June 2005

SOAG's second Technical Sub Committee meeting spends a great deal of time and debate going through the details provided by the Council. As previously indicated, all costs have been removed from the proposed lottery bid, so it is difficult to assess the changes in quality that have been made from the original, but the details of the areas of each job are available, so the extent of the work can be compared. The Council has left the estimated costs of the Phase 2 part in the document, whether in error or by design is unclear. However they help greatly in assessing the present plan against the previous one so far as phase 2 is concerned.

27 June 2005 

The report to SOAG's Executive Committee seeks to remind Committee of how we arrived at this point, to summarise the Technical sub-group's analysis of Fylde's Heritage Lottery Fund bid, to ask the Committee to support or to amend the a draft letter as our response to the Council, and to determine to whom the response should be provided. The report can be seen here. Whilst individuals within the Executive Committee have different views on selected items, the Committee as a whole resolve to accept the findings of the Technical sub-committee, and make minor changes to the wording of the draft letter - mostly to strengthen the sentiment expressed.

30 June 2005 

SOAG respond to Fylde  Council and advise that whilst we wholeheartedly support the principle of a lottery bid, and have raised around 4,000 toward supporting it, we are not able to support the new version of the lottery bid the Council has now produced, and regard the plan as a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

SOAG argue the latest version does not respect the character of the gardens or the area, and the reasons for their being listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It is now focused on buildings and lighting rather than restoring the worn out infrastructure and planting, much of which has been pushed forward to a possible future lottery bid called Phase 2 which may or may not happen.

It introduces too much entertainment and activity at the expense of flowers and planting, it sacrifices quality on the altar of lower maintenance costs, it is driven by income generation and business opportunities in the gardens when they should be about peace, beauty, and tranquillity. 

The scheme aims to renovate or renew rather than restore. 

SOAG argue this will repeat the mistake of the unpopular re-development of the Square, where tradition has been abandoned in favour of modernisation and regeneration. 

We are aware that some people will try to scapegoat SOAG if the bid eventually fails but, along with several other community groups, we have declined to support this version of the bid. We also set out our reasons in detail. We urge everyone to read the full text of our letter to the Council here

Please follow this link for details of the second half of 2005 (July - December)
Supporters of Ashton Gardens 

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