A CONTROVERSIAL decision by Wirral council to allow houses to be built on a World War I memorial field was halted by the Government.
Secretary of state Eric Pickles is now reviewing the planning application by Tranmere Rovers to build up to 90 new houses on Ingleborough Field in Birkenhead.
The move could result in a public inquiry into the decision by the council.
Campaigners had fought the scheme by the league one club saying the site – a former playing field for the Birkenhead Institute school – had been left as a memorial to 88 pupils including the poet Wilfred Owen who died in World War I.
But last month Wirral council’s planning committee approved the scheme along with a linked application by Tranmere to redevelop the Woodchurch leisure centre as their new training ground.
A spokesman for the department for communities and local government (DCLG) confirmed a stop notice had been placed on the planning decision over Ingleborough Field.
He said: “The case has been referred to the secretary of state and is currently under consideration.”
According to Wirral council the authority has sent all details of the planning application and correspondence to the secretary of state who will examine the documents and decide whether to intervene.
The move means the authority cannot issue the planning permission, although it is still in legal talks with Tranmere over the conditions placed on the decision
Dean Johnson, one of the campaigners opposing Tranmere’s plans for Ingleborough, welcomed the move by the DCLG and said: “There appears to be a significant conflict of interest on behalf of the council who are expected to indirectly benefit from a change of use and for this reason we have asked the secretary of state to consider calling in the application to make the decision.
“This has resulted in a holding directive being issued to the council to enable him to consider whether to call the application in.
“If a public inquiry is ordered it will at least provide an opportunity for a better assessment of the various arguments which the current process has clearly precluded.”
Tranmere Rovers declined to comment.