Developer furious after spending £600k on ‘private’ road now declared public

A wealthy landowner has spent £600,000 maintaining a private road which the local council just declared open to the public.

Motorists in Formby, Merseyside, have found themselves unofficially "banned" from a section of St Lukes Church Road for a number of years.

The area is gated and there are signs reading: "Private road. Unauthorised vehicles not permitted. Shared use path for walking, cycling & riding."

Another sign says: "No parking or access at any time. Your car will be towed off this road by tractor. You have been warned."

Property developer Mike McComb, who owns the multimillion-pound mansion Firwood Hall on nearby Alexandra Road, has previously said he installed the signs in a bid to reduce antisocial behaviour from "gangs".

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Mike says he has also resurfaced the road, which was previously in "appalling condition", and installed drainage and landscaping at his own expense.

Documents on Sefton Council's website said he has spent around £600,000 on the road, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Back in July 2018, after residents complained about the signage, the council said it was "working closely with the Parish Council and landowners to establish whether any public rights would apply to the road".

But no resolution was achieved until Monday at a Licensing and Regulatory meeting held remotely by Sefton Council.

The local authority said it was resolved the route should have been made a public right of way in 1995, but for some reason, this resolution was never actually carried out.

Sefton's licensing committee has now reaffirmed the resolution to make St Lukes Church Road, Alexandra Road and Albert Road open to all traffic.

Mike has written to the committee, imploring them to rethink their decision.

"Time has moved on, the environment has changed, public use of the area, the community, housing and infrastructure," he said.

"Resolutions from 24 years previous would not have the same weight in modern day."

He went on to say he worked with Merseyside Police and the National Trust when carrying out works on the road, and said both were supportive of his measures, given the number of antisocial incidents.

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He also said a gate across the path was erected far earlier than 2001, which is when he purchased the land near Formby beach.

"My neighbours have always been informed of my intentions," Mike told the Echo in 2018.

"The condition of the road was appalling before, delivery vehicles wouldn't deliver, emergency services complained about the poor access, several neighbours suffered structural damage to their vehicles.

"In the last few years, several neighbours have also suffered from anti-social and threatening behaviour from gangs in vehicles accessing the sand dune via the road late at night.

"Believe me, the condition of the road and the signage is to the satisfaction of all of the neighbours.

"Everyone is most welcome to use this road with the exception of vehicles."

The decision will be subject to a six-week consultation period, during which time Mike can lodge a formal appeal.

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