As Lib Dem Planning Spokesperson on Sefton Council I led the opposition to Sefton Council’s Local Plan on the Planning Committee. As a consequence I have been sent many copies of objections to the Plan which is now going on to be reviewed by an independent planning inspector. This is one such objection.
For the attention of the inspector.
I wish to object to the local plan as proposed by Sefton Council. I am basing this objection on several grounds which concern sites I am familiar with.
The loss of Green Belt land on the following sites will lead to the development of urban sprawl :
MN2.27 Land at Turnbridge Road ; MN2.28 Land North of Kenyons , Lydiate ; MN8.1 Lambshear Lane
To support this claim I would refer to paragraphs 83 and 84 and 85 of the NPPF. Para 83 states that ‘once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan. At the time, authorities should consider the Green Belt boundaries having regard to their intended permanence in the long term, so that they should be capable of enduring beyond the plan period.’ I’m sure I hardly need to point out that in the case of MN2.28 Turnbridge Road land, a drain could not be considered a durable boundary as required in paragraph 85. And if allowed development of this site would open the whole area to the North and West of the Leeds to Liverpool canal to later development. This area is currently acknowledged as being unattached to an urban area.
And it goes without saying the openness of the countryside would be adversely affected and eroded. Indeed, 2011 the amount of Green Belt for development in Sefton was 2.6%; from there it increased to 3.2% and then crawled to 3.6% before now landing on 4.4% One wonders if Paddy Power could take out a book on it reaching 5% before long.
Country Lanes are not robust boundaries and if the Turnbridge Road proposal was allowed the next robust boundary would be Southport Road, which is an A road to the north several large fields away. A similar situation arises to the east of Lydiate where lack of robust boundaries would lead to a ‘doughnut’ of housing encircling the current village of Lydiate .As the West Lancs border closely follows Lydiate in a rabbits ear shaped boundary the whole village could be developed in future up to the border.
I would also like to object to these proposed developments on the grounds of the quality of farmland in this area, which is described by an agronomist as being noted for its excellence of agricultural production. Once developed this land would be lost to farming. The Uk already has a balance of payments deficit in international food trade. And security of supply has long been claimed as a national goal by governments. The soils here are classed as amongst the Best Most Versatile in the country and hence most valuable.
Given the NPPG advice that ‘unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the ‘very special circumstances ‘justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt’ I hope you will agree with me that this is the case in this instance. I make this request especially as there are brownfield sites (some very large) in urban areas demanding development and regeneration for the sake of residents living in close proximity to eyesores and dangerous derelict works and areas of contaminated sites, now fenced off, from a less caring time. Some of these sites in the local plan are not scheduled for development for a despairingly long time. And it is clear that there will be a Green Belt first situation.
I now would like to open my concerns to other aspects of the local plan.
Should development be allowed on Green Belt land first there is the distinct possibility that the brownfield sites will lay unloved in a rust belt amongst family homes. It could be argued that the housing market in this area is supply led ( Zoopla shows house price are falling now in L31) and if demand dries up the brownfields will not be enhanced. One site was given planning permission around 2004 but the developer let the permission lapse. This brownfield site consists of a number of old works, factories along the Hawthorne Road/ Canal corridor.
There is also an issue with the high number of vacant housing throughout the borough. Which is higher than the government’s aims at 5822 over 4% of housing stock. One wonders if building so many new houses will lead too more vacant housing. When I asked about refurbishment I was told it would cost £90,000 per house. I found this strange given that a year earlier the price was said to be £35,000. There now appears to be large scale demolition of 2 bed housing in the Klondyke estate.
I would also like to draw your attention to both Maghull and Lydiate with regard to education and the Local Plan. There is also a real concern around the potential increase in school requirements. Sefton schooling officials claim (with some uncertainty) that the total average child yield for Sefton schools would be 32 per hundred households. They don’t show where they acquired these stats. The average Child Yield for other authorities in the region would show the following numbers: Average Child Yield for primary school children equals 25 children per 100 households, 16 secondary school pupils per hundred households and 3 for upper school children. So this adds up to 526 extra school places in the primary sector alone resulting from the developments around Maghull and Lydiate. I would suggest that tacking the odd classroom to existing schools may be inadequate. And children from other authorities in Sefton Schools have rights as do their younger siblings to Sefton education services.
Another concern throughout this area of Maghull and Lydiate (Park and Sudell Wards) is the predicted increase in traffic. To suggest that 4,000 extra vehicles would spread evenly through the day is very questionable and seems to defy the times of stress (rush hours) I find the comparison between residential areas and Switch Island also questionable. Switch Island has had millions of pounds and several adjustments to get the feeder roads to the level of today.
The Peel Ports claims of local and regional employment associated with Post Panamax traffic appears at variance and seems to ignore the multipliers associated with B2 and B8 jobs.
The hi-tech container handling equipment to be used at the port (Liverpool 2) calls for highly qualified operators and control room staff. The need for low skilled workers will not be met by the addition of two large berths. The fact that the Irish Sea is outside any ECA and numbers of ship movements (which in some years pass the criteria) for monitoring for air pollution within 1 kilometre of the docks, the council seem only to agree to measure up to 250 metres.
The Access to Port of Liverpool Report dated Nov 2011 points to the large number of HGVs using Dunnings Bridge Road. The Entry to the Port report shows an average of about 350 HGVs enter or leave the port every hour. And this is predicted to rise to 800 by 2030 or 750 if investment in freight infrastructure happens. I understand that the majority of HGVs use Dunnnings Bridge Road. Given the recent criticism of diesel vehicles and pollution one can only wonder of the effects on a Ward (Linacre). with very high levels of early death rates.
Switch Island must be on course to become one of the ‘hottest’ roundabouts in the country!
One wonders at the benefits that the residents of Bootle will get from the SuperPort, so loved by certain councillors! I hope the only thing in it for residents will not be a lungful of exhaust emissions from passing HGVs as operators move their boxes to their factories.
There is also a wide variety of wildlife supported by the fields around Lydiate.
To the west fields support pink footed geese in the season and there are bats roosting near Bells Lane ( reported to Sefton ecology ) there are of course many other examples of habitats and wild life which would need to be taken into consideration.s present.
Should the opportunity arise I would like to speak at the hearing.
Thank you for your kind attention,
P J Greener.