I blogged about the controversial planning application for a permanent travellers site off Melling’s Spurriers Lane recently. Here’s a link to that posting:-
I have subsequently been asked by a Melling resident for my advice and opinion on the development. These are the points I made in response:-
* I oppose farmland being used for other purposes and I fought against the Sefton Local Plan because it allows this very thing to happen (on the sites taken out of the Green Belt).
* I’m guessing that you will have got the 3 Molyneux ward Sefton Councillors on board as they will be crucial in lobbying their fellow Sefton Councillors, who sit on the Planning Committee, to oppose the application. None of the Molyneux ward members are on the Planning Committee as far as I can see so they should be free to express a view. Planning Committee members can’t say what they think about a plan before the meeting it is discussed at. If they do, it is called pre-determination and it precludes them from voting on it.
* My personal view is that the planning application is not consistent with the new Sefton Local Plan as the site is within Green Belt and a change of use from farmland is an inappropriate use of the land.
* I know how nice the Spurriers Lane area is as I represented Melling on Sefton Council until 2011, although it suffers terribly from huge amounts of fly-tipping particularly the bit of it in West Lancs which is called Outlet Lane.
Obviously I’m just a Lydiate Parish Councillor these days so my opinion on this Melling matter will be of little interest to the Planning Committee of Sefton Council but as a matter of principle I always try to defend Green Belt land from development.
Separately, I’ve also contributed to a thread on the Maghull Community Page of Facebook where one of the objecting campaigners was calling for those speaking at public meetings about the application to stick to the Green Belt issue and not to get carried away with the emotional issues surrounding the application. This was the advice I added:-
Sound advice Charlotte and the same will more importantly apply when petition/s are presented and spoken to at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee. The only things that will be taken notice of by the Planning Committee are Planning related matters of policy/guidance. I know as a former Sefton Councillor who sat on the Planning Committee that matters like this can be highly emotional but it is important to remain focused on grounds for objection that relate to Planning law, policy, the Sefton Local Plan etc. Best of luck.
Planning is a legal-type process so any comments not related to planning law and policy should automatically not be taken into account. I recall seeing controversial planning applications being opposed at Sefton’s Planning Committee in the past where those speaking concentrated on getting things off their chests rather then sticking to grounds of opposition related to planning law and policy. The speakers may have felt better for getting things off their chests but sometimes they were not actually having much influence the decision making process.
I have always felt that residents, who rarely come across Planning issues, are at a big disadvantage as they not only have a limited amount of time to get their concerns over to the Planning Dept. (of any council) but they also have to get their heads around a quasi-judicial process steeped in jargon, law, policy and the like.