Maghull’s Vast Urban Extension -Sefton Council complains about site it selected to build on!

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.

Sefton Council produced a Local Plan which it finalised and published in April 2017. In that plan, amongst other hugely controversial sites across the Borough which had been designated for building, was the massive urban extension of Maghull dubbed the Maghull East site.

Presently @1700 houses are expected to be built on that former Green Belt and presently high grade agricultural site which I and many other environmental campaigners fought against. But this is not another rehash of the arguments to save the site from development because we lost and Sefton Council won you might say. No, this is a commentary on what has happened since then as Sefton Council and developers/builders have been working up strategies and plans to deliver this massive urban extension to the Town.

Sefton designated this site, no one else selected it for them

You see Sefton Council designated this site to be built on, no one else selected it for them. Yet now we seem to have a situation where the same Council is complaining that that things are not going well, that things have been flawed, that the site is going to have all kinds of detrimental effects on Maghull etc. etc. We’ve even heard Sefton moaning about the Town’s infrastructure being unsustainable if things are not put right.

I’m sure all those concerns are only too valid as they are amongst those raised by those of us who campaigned against this monster site being developed in the first place. Indeed, it was obvious to us that developing such a huge site as this would be full of difficulties and that’s even if you, like Sefton Council, felt it was sensible to go ahead with!

Sefton Council is fighting against a process which it put in place!

My point? Sefton Council is now fighting against the consequences of developing a site which it chose itself. Maybe it should have thought through what it was planning to do before agreeing to do it because the drainage, traffic, infrastructure, schools, doctors/dentists and other environmental issues (or indeed the Council’s interaction with developers) were are quite predicable problems.

We have reached a stage now where Maghull residents, many of whom opposed the building in the first place, have had to rise up again because the development they did not want has turned into the organisational mess that they feared it would and all because this vast site was picked by their own Council to build upon.

Liverpool Echo story says what many of us have been saying for years about air pollution

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/nearly-300-deaths-just-one-17614406

But how long do we have to keep saying it before the powers that be, nationally and locally, actually take useful and positive action to stop us all being poisoned?

Maghull – The Dell in Liverpool Road North

NHS, Maghull in Bloom and project partners meet at The Dell – 31st Jan 2014

I’ve blogged about this prominent piece of land at the heart of Maghull a couple of times before in 2011 and 2014 – here are links to those postings:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/03/20/the-dell-pct-take-action-over-trees-but-will-they-pass-the-land-over-to-maghull-town-council/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/02/07/the-dell-maghull-environmental-renewal-project-starts-to-come-together/

What I did not do was to follow up on the last posting but contact from a Lydiate resident recently has reminded me to do so. The resident was talking to me as they are of the view that some of the tree branches overhanging Liverpool Road North may well be a danger to pedestrians and vehicles on the highway. In short Sefton Council has been informed and they have undertaken, I understand, to sort things out whilst holding the line that the land on which the trees are growing does not belong to the Council. On that basis the trees must be growing on the part of the site owned by the NHS.

Hare and Hounds in background

Readers who have read my links above will note that I make reference in those previous postings to The Dell belonging to the NHS. But that is only partly the case, indeed my present understanding is that a small part of The Dell actually belongs to Sefton Council. That part is a narrow strip along the Liverpool Road North boundary (possibly just the stone wall?) and a small section of the site around the Liverpool Road North/Westway corner. Interestingly, the Council also owns the grassed areas fronting the Health Center site on Westway. I say all this as I’ve seen copies of the Land Registry documents detailing it.

Going back to the attempt by Maghull in Bloom to take over the management of the land in 2014, one of the issues which caused the volunteers to call a halt to the project was the split ownership. As their volunteers were relying on a successful Lottery bid to fund the proposed works the project went no further as the Lottery would, I understand, be reluctant about investing in a site with split ownership.

Previous tree works being carried out in 2013

I wonder if there will be a 3rd attempt to get this green lung at the heart of Maghull managed in the long term?

Maghull – Frank Hornby wins Borough of Culture local poll

MySefton has the article on its website – see link below:-

mysefton.co.uk/2020/01/27/hornbys-in-the-driving-seat-for-the-sefton-stories-project/

Quote from MYSefton website – ‘Frank Hornby has steamed ahead, reinvented himself and engineered top spot in the Sefton Stories Project launched as part of Sefton’s Borough of Culture year!

The inventor from Maghull, topped the list of 10 stories synonymous with Sefton, by claiming 28% of the total vote.’

A great piece of model Meccano engineering

Obviously the Trustees (I’m one of them) of the Maghull based Frank Hornby Trust who run the Frank Hornby Experience exhibition within the Town’s Meadows Leisure Centre and Library are delighted by the result of the poll of local people. Maghull, as demonstrated previously by one of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys TV programmes being filmed in the Town, is becoming well known for having a world famous toy maker as it’s most famous former resident.

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