The UK national Government is set to intervene to rectify ‘dysfunctional’ Liverpool City Council

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary commissioned a report by Max Caller, a local government consultant who was in charge of carrying out an emergency inspection. The result was a damning on parts of the council. The report was ordered after the arrest of five men, including the Labour mayor, Joe Anderson, last December 2020. Anderson was arrested as part of Merseyside police’s “Operation Aloft”, an ongoing investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool that led to the eventual arrest of 12 people.

It is believed to be the first time that a national government has directly intervened in the daily running of a city of this size. This in itself is politically sensitive due to the fact that Liverpool is one of the strongest Labour cities in Great Britain. The region provides 14 Labour MPs to Westminster. Liverpool last had a Conservative MP on the seat 38 years ago. The last Tory councillor lost his seat 23 years ago.

The unprecedented move comes after inspectors found strong indications of a ‘serious breakdown of governance’ on behalf of the Liverpool city council. Jenrick also said that an emergency inspection revealed a “deeply concerning picture of mismanagement”, an “environment of intimidation” and a “dysfunctional culture” at one of the biggest councils in Britain.
The commissioners who have been appointed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will be sent to “exercise certain and limited” functions of Liverpool city council for up to a period of 3 years under a controversial plan, arriving 6 weeks before the planned local elections.

Jenrick stated: “As a whole, the report is unequivocal: Liverpool city council has failed in numerous respects to comply with its best value duties. It concludes that the council consistently failed to meet its statutory and managerial responsibilities and that the pervasive culture appeared to be rule avoidance.” He also added “continued failure to correctly value land and assets, meaning taxpayers frequently lost out. When selling land, the report states that Liverpool city council’s best interests were not on the agenda,”

The city council is expected to accept the proposals emanating from the report in their entirety, meaning government commissioners would be drafted in with immediate effect. The number of councillors in Liverpool council will also be reduced from a total of 90, 72 of whom are members of the Labour party. There are also plans to change the election cycle, moving to a system of whole-council elections every four years.

Local elections will go ahead on the 6th of May and those politicians would then inform government about the best steps forward for the council with a view to not dictate but instruct. “We have given them the authority to act, should they need to, given the seriousness of some of the allegations but it is not our hope or expectation that those powers would be exercised.”
There was pressure on some of the Labour councillors to resign over the matter. Richard Kemp, the Liberal Democrat councillor and potential candidate for mayor, called for the resignation of all councillors connected to the scandal-hit departments. “This is a sad day for our city, which the people of Liverpool do not deserve.”

15th century Grade II House gifted by Elizabeth I goes on sale

A fabulous 15th century Thameside Listed House (Grade II) that was gifted by Elizabeth I went on sale, though estate agent Savills admits that the decor needs a bit of ‘updating’ as the property has been under the same ownership for 50 years without much alterations and works.

It is commonly believed to have been seized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I from Bishop of Winchester after he annoyed her during one of his sermons and was subsequently gifted to their ancestor, Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear House. The politician, who was then the British Ambassador to France, had been previously considered by some academics to be one of the potential candidates for the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays.  This Grade II-listed Wargrave Court, that lies in the quaint and historic village of Wargrave, Berkshire, has hit the property market for the first time in 2 generations for a sum of £3.5million. The stately home, that comes with a private island, has been owned by the Neville family and their descendants for three centuries.

The Listed Wargrave Court was built circa late 15th or early 16th century. Originally the building was used in the function of a city hall, as a court for manorial administrative purposes – ensuring local disputes were resolved, dues paid and fines levied. It was subsequently altered and further extended in the late 18th century, and then divided into three properties in 1955. Since that time, Wargrave Court has only had two owners, with the current owners purchasing it in 1978. The house retains a lot of period features, with exposed beams and original fireplaces throughout and the reception hall even has panels of late 18th century tapestry work.

The property’s main house has a gross internal area of 5,540 sq ft, the garage has a gross internal area of 432 sq ft and the outbuildings have a gross internal area of 315 sq ft.

The property  comes with has 7.7 acres of land, that includes a tennis court, and the village green which is leased to the church on a minimal rent. It also has a formidable garden with a summer house, flowers and mature shrub fencing. It also has a boathouse that one can access straight onto the river, which is a tributary of the Thames.


For more information or assistance with Listed Properties, please contact us.

Rochdale Council plans to build 7,000 homes

Rochdale Borough Council has published a masterplan for the delivery of 7,000 homes and 250,000 square metres of employment space along the Calder Valley rail corridor.

It outlines crucial redevelopment surrounding the borough’s five railway stations – Rochdale, Castleton, Smith Bridge, Littleborough and Mills Hills and forms part of the council’s next phase of regeneration.

The masterplan prioritises creating neighbourhoods on underused brownfield land that are close to local amenities and transport links.

Covid-19: Green space should be a priority in local plans

The social distancing measures implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) has highlighted the ‘critical importance’ of high-quality green spaces within housing developments, says Ecological Planning & Research Ltd (EPR).

The consultancy highlights that green and blue spaces have long been understood to improve human wellbeing – people with access to such amenities have lower levels of mental distress than those without, as was outlined by a Public Health England report in 2014. 

Time-limited permitted development right comes into force

A time-limited permitted development right has been published today, 9 April at 10:00 and will remain until 31 December 2020.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Coronavirus) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020 No. 412 with Explanatory Memorandum has been published on

The regulations provide a new time limited emergency permitted development right and supports health service bodies and local authorities’ immediate response to coronavirus.

The right is wide ranging, allowing for

  • development by or on behalf of a local authority or health authority body for the purposes of preventing an emergency;
  • reducing, controlling or mitigating the effects of an emergency; and
  • taking other action in connection with an emergency.

The right enables development including, but not limited to, change of use for existing buildings and new temporary modular buildings. The right could be suitable to provide permission for a range of uses including use as:

  • Hospitals
  • health facilities
  • testing centres
  • coroner facilities
  • mortuaries
  • additional residential accommodation
  • storage and distribution, including for community food hubs.

There is no application process, and health service bodies and local authorities who are not the planning authority are required only to notify the local planning authority of the use of the development on a site as soon as practicable after commencing development.  It is expected this will be by e-mail or in writing.

Source: Planning Portal

Covid-19 Update

England Councils are business as usual as of 30th April 2020. Some delays are occurring but mainly on a more large-scale planning applications or those that require site visits or must go before planning committee. 

The target for determination of a typical application is 8 weeks from validation. This target decision date is still applicable although some boroughs have a backlog as a result of furloughing staff, and therefore delays are expected.

Construction sites across England, as opposed to Scotland, are open to builders and progress is being made in the construction industry, however there is an overall slowdown due to the uncertainty. There are some exceptions with a couple of housebuilders mothballing their projects.

The government are proposing changes to the planning system in light of the pandemic and are extending the permitted development rights, specifically conversions to D1 medical uses.

Osborne Planning are monitoring the situation daily and will provide important updates when required. For further information or to discuss your project, Osborne Planning are open for business. Please call us: +44 (0)2031500183 or email:

28 February 2019 by 0 Comments

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