Maghull – Those hugely contentious planning applications for its urban expansion

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will become housing


Place North West has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/sefton-defers-decision-on-1700-homes/

The deferment was of course associated with the Special Planning Committee meeting held last week in Bootle Town Hall.

I guess those of us who fought against this vast former Green Belt/high grade agricultural site being designated for housing in Sefton Council’s Local Plan (I fought it twice – 1998 WON, Most recently – LOST) will be sad but resigned. Resigned to the fact the battle to save the land from development was actually lost when Sefton Council approved its Local Plan on 20th April 2017.

On that date we lost the battle to save the land

The issues at stake now for Maghull are all about how the site will be developed, drained, laid out, the effect on the local infrastructure, the timescale for the building etc. etc. There can be no doubt that an urban extension to Maghull of the scale of 1,600+ houses will have very significant impacts on the highway network, public transport, health facilities, school places, land drainage, you name it.

It was for all these reasons that I fought to to protect this high grade agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, and engaged with the two campaigns to stop the development in 1998 and then again up to April 2017.

Yes clearly Sefton’s Planning Committee now has some huge decisions to face up to/tackle following the Council selecting the vast Maghull East site to build upon. But as Sefton decided to designate such a huge area for housing the problems of actually delivering on that site are a direct consequence of that designation. No ifs, no buts.

Maghull folk, particularly those living around/close to this massive development, have now been pulled into all kinds of issues which concern and worry them. Yes they are trying to influence the Council and developers but I fear that with the planning system in the UK being set up the way that it is that soon Sefton’s Planning Committee will give the green light whilst many issues of concern in that community will be left unaddressed.

Frankly, I have never liked the way town and country planning takes place. It’s too remote from communities, its full of jargon and complexities that seem to be in place to keep ordinary people at arms length. My two years on Sefton’s Planning Committee up to May 2015, when I came off Sefton Council, confirmed this to me. And no this is not a dig at Sefton Planning, its a dig at the whole set up of planning across the UK for generations.

I deeply regret not being able to save both Green Belt and high grade agricultural sites across Sefton Borough from development but I enjoyed working with community campaigners like Maria Bennett, Peter Greener and many many others who put their every effort into those campaigns.

Maybe one day, hopefully soon, Government will value high grade agricultural land more highly than bricks and mortar

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won back then but could not win in the recent re-run of the battle for Maghull East.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Maghull – Historic maps on display in Town Hall

A while back a lady contacted me saying she had a 1930’s map of Maghull which she was happy to donate for public display. I put her in touch with the Town Clerk of Maghull Town Council and the matter then passed me by so to speak.

Imagine my delight then when I went into the Council Chamber of Maghull Town Hall (for a Maghull in Bloom volunteers meeting) recently and saw 3 historic maps of the Town up on the wall where there had been none before. A closer inspection made me realise that one of them was from the lady I whom I had spoken to a few months ago.

I love maps, always have done since I discovered Ordnance Survey maps as a late teenager for country walking. Here are the 3 on display in Maghull Town Hall:-

This is the one (above) the lady mentioned to me, it’s dated October 1933 and intriguingly said to be the work of the ‘Maghull Advisory Committee’. James Longridge, whose name appears on the map as the Hon Sec of this committee was also Chairman of Maghull Parish Council from 1934 to 1938. My guess is that it was put together as part of the work to significantly expand Maghull in the 1930’s and after WW2.

The Town had other periods of rapid development in the 1960’s and 70’s and it is all happening again with the vast urban extension to the east of the Town having been designated for @1600 additional houses and business premises via the Sefton Council Local Plan adopted in April 2017.

This one is a 1908 Ordnance Survey map

I’m struggling to make out the date properly on this map but think it is 1840 – correct me if I’m wrong please.

Really pleased that Maghull Town Council has displayed these historic maps as they are a part of the heritage of a community that I lived in for 43 years and represented as a councillor for 30 years.

Click on the maps to enlarge them

Aughton – A traffic cone per year?

There’s been a broken gully grid in Formby Lane, just east of the junction with Clieves Hill Lane and outside of Broad Oak Farm, for as long as I can remember and it’s had a traffic cone placed by it to warn road users (particularly cyclists) of the hazard.

But I’m beginning to think that another traffic cone is added for each year the problem has existed as it’s now got 3 around it.

Time to raise the issue with Lancashire County Council me thinks before the traffic cone family expands further in 2021, 2022 etc. etc. 🙂

Update 08 02 20 – Two of the traffic cones have been removed

Access to Port of Liverpool and that oddly timed judicial review

Work on the new River Berth taking place in August 2015

I’ve posted many times about access to the Port of Liverpool and the lovely Rimrose Valley Country Park being chosen to have a new road driven right through it to provide that additional access. But what was Sefton Council’s Cabinet trying to achieve with the judicial review that they launched in October 2017?

Cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

What an odd question you might say, but hear me out.

I’ve been reading a report which went to Sefton Council’s Cabinet on 28th February 2013, nearly 7 years ago now. It starts off with the words ‘As part of the City Region Deal, a Port Access Steering Group (Chaired by Sefton Council) has been established’ so who was running this group is very clear. The report was all about bidding for money to assist in developing and providing improved access to the Port via the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T). That same report goes on to say ‘Sefton Council has been leading the coordination of City Region activities associated with port access on behalf of the City Region Partners.’

Now let’s look at an interesting chain of events:-

February 2014 – Atkins [consultants] report for Highway England (Access to the Port of Liverpool Feasibility Study) considers 2 major options i.e. a rebuild of the A5036 or a new road down the Rimrose Valley. It also considered the alternative option of a tunnel which it effectively rejected on the grounds of cost. Remember that happened in February 2014.
November 2014 – Atkins make a presentation to the Liverpool City Region Port Access Steering Group (led by Sefton Council) where the tunnel options were considered cost prohibitive.
October 2015 – Highways England publish a document entitled A5036 Port of Liverpool access Newsletter 1 It considered just 2 options. The tunnel option was not included.
January 2016 – Another Highways England Newsletter produced – Again no Tunnel option.
June 2016 – A further Highways England newsletter produced – And again no Tunnel option.
22 July 2016 – Sefton Council writes to Secretary of State for Transport formally requesting they fully consider and consult on a tunnel option.
22nd August 2016 Minister of State replies that the tunnel option would not provide value for money so rejects Sefton’s request.
31st August 2017 – Highways England adopts ‘Option B’ (new road down Rimrose Valley) – No tunnel.
19th October 2017 – Sefton Council seeks judicial review of Highways England decision of 31st August 2017 because it excluded one or more options involving a tunnel which rendered the consultation so unfair as to be unlawful.

My point with this timeline is this. Why did Sefton Council’s Cabinet wait until July 2016 to request the Secretary of State for Transport to fully consider a tunnel option when this option had effectively been rejected back in February 2014? That’s almost 2 and half years before!

It is of course no surprise that it was argued that the claim (made in October 2017) for a judicial review was out of time as such a review should be brought promptly and in normal circumstances not later than 3 months after the grounds to make the claim first arose. Those grounds arguably first arose in February 2014 or possibly more likely in October 2015 if my reading of the situation is correct. Which all begs the question of what was Sefton Council’s Cabinet was trying to achieve? Had it been leading the Port Access Steering Group or protesting about what had come about as a consequence of the activity of that group, Highways England and its consultants?

The Council must have known it was effectively out of time for a successful judicial review yet it still pursued one. The fact that it lost the review can surely have been no surprise what so ever. Clearly, to me anyway, the serious objection to the lack of a tunnel option within the process should have been taken forward as early as May 2014 or more likely January 2016, so why wasn’t it? The answer to that question we can only speculate upon but to me the activities of the Cabinet make little sense. To have waited until October 2017 to go for a judicial review is bizarre as the writing was clearly on the wall from the consultant’s report in February 2014.

Answers on a postcard………….

Lydiate (and everywhere else) – The quest for speed and how it impacts on our lives

Southport Road, Lydiate

This is a matter I have oft thought about and not necessarily in the way you might think.

Yes, we all see the mad drivers blasting through our communities at a rate of knots neither aware or caring about the potential consequences of their actions. Indeed, in my own community of Lydiate there are growing concerns from Joe and Jane Public about irresponsible speeding along Southport Road and Moss Lane and I’m quite sure others can add to these two roads.

To his credit local Labour Parish Councillor Neil Spencer is trying to get the powers that be (Sefton Council and Merseyside Police) to address this problem and I’m with him all the way. I’ve previously tried to get Moss Lane’s speeding addressed and the rural part of it was reduced to 40mph a few years back. And my Parish Council colleague Edie Pope campaigned for the speed restriction to be reduced to 40mph along the section of Southport Road where it becomes Mairscough Lane because it’s a notorious accident black spot near the junction with Church Lane. But, and its a big but, bringing in lower speed restrictions does not stop the mad drivers who want to blast along at 50, 60 or even 70mph as they don’t really care. So good luck to Neil, let’s have another go at trying to make Lydiate’s roads safer.

Edie Pope outside her Southport Road farm shop. The notorious accident black spot is in the background.

But to me this speeding problem is probably far more deeply seated in our way of life than we may realise. Everything has to be quick, immediate and now. Our working lives are all about doing things faster to save costs and boost productivity. We leave too shorter time to get from one place to another, probably because we are either too optimistic about how long a journey will take or because everything we do is at 90mph so to speak. In turn all this causes much stress an anxiety so should we really be surprised if it produces more and more racing car drivers on our streets? Just a thought……..

Edie Pope’s scarecrow traffic cop from 2019, which was meant to make drivers think about their speed.

Bootle building I started work in suffers bomb hoax

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/council-office-evacuated-after-man-17534301

This Echo story hit home to me as I started work as a fresh faced lad of 17 in Magdalen House in September 1975. In those days the building housed Inland Revenue staff. I worked there for 3 years if memory serves.

And my second encounter with the very same building came about quite a few years later when I would go to it as a Sefton Councillor. It had passed from the Inland Revenue to the Health and Safety Executive but when the H&SE moved to a brand new building nearby Sefton Council took Magdalen House on. They did this because the adjacent Balliol House was in a poor state of repair and their staff needed to be moved out. Balliol House was subsequently demolished.

Memories……..