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Warring sides try to thrash out a peace plan in New Brighton conflict

Opposing parties are meeting today for showdown talks over the £75 million New Brighton scheme on the Wirral, designed by Falconer Chester Hall architects.

Heritage groups are meeting councillors and developers to see if an agreement can be reached on reviving the plans, which were binned after a planning inquiry by Ruth Kelly last week ( Government planning inspector slates New Brighton marina proposal).

The parties are hopeful that a compromise will be reached, despite Neptune Developments' managing director Steve Parry suggesting that some New Brighton residents would oppose any development.

The rejection of the redevelopment scheme also led Parry to openly criticise 'inconsistencies' in the planning system.

His comments centred on the fact that his scheme had received support from CABE and English Heritage (EH), only for the Government's inspector to reject the proposals on 'heritage and design issues'.

In an interview on www.thebusinessweek.co.uk, Parry said: 'We were confident it [the public inquiry] went well. The biggest surprise was the stated reason. When the scheme was called in, it was for the housing and the supermarket. The Secretary of State's letter indicates that the housing and the retail were acceptable, but the refusal was for heritage and design.'

Parry also claimed he was considering legal action following the decision over his proposals.

He said: 'We are looking at that as a possibility. We are looking at options to amend the scheme and move it forward. We are committed to New Brighton. It needs regenerating.'

The talks today will concentrate on any possible amendments to the proposals that could see them pushed through.

However, Parry also stated that the inspector's decision gives guidance on an acceptable scheme, which could be less to locals' liking.

by Richard Vaughan

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