Maghull – Now about that vast urban extension to the east of the Town

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/housing-company-banned-joe-anderson-16287342

I wonder where this is heading and will Sefton Council take the same approach to these developers as Liverpool City Council seems to be doing? It feels like a long time now since Sefton Council picked the vast Maghull East site for an urban extension to the Town on what is presently high grade agricultural land. And it was a hugely controversial move which created a significant environmental protest movement in the Town and indeed across the Borough of Sefton, which I was a part of – see my many previous posting about it on this Sefton Focus Blog Site.

But there is danger here in thinking that Sefton Council or indeed Liverpool City Council can achieve much on land which is in private ownership. Yes, if the land to be sold is owned by a Council it gives it far more leverage as to the use it is put to otherwise, if the land is in private hands, the leverage is far, far less.

Like many I want to see the end to leasehold and ground rents etc.

Maghull/Lydiate* – What was the thinking when the Turnbridge Road site was picked for development?

You only have to pick up a copy of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper or look at comments on the Maghull Community Facebook page to see how troublesome this site is proving to be during the early stages of construction work to realise what a tough site it was always going to be to build on.

And before you think oh here’s that damn environmental campaigner going on about stopping development and building on agricultural land again just bear with me…..

When Sefton Council chose the sites that it was willing to take out of Green Belt/allow to be built upon in its Local Plan, why was this site picked?

I ask because it has proven to be a devil of a site to develop due to the restricted access to it. What with a weight limited canal swing bridge, narrow estate roads & country lanes and two primary schools to negotiate those of us with local knowledge have been left scratching our heads. For less than 50 housing units it makes you wonder what the imperative was to get this particular site built upon.

Now don’t get me wrong I was an opponent of Sefton’s Local Plan whilst I was on the Borough Council (until 2015) and continued to fight it (in my capacity as a Lydiate Parish Councillor) after I left that Council and yes I have ranted many times about why we need to protect things like high grade agricultural land from being built on. But that’s not my point here. Putting to one side feelings about the rights and wrongs of building on Green Belt and agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, why from a strategic planning perspective did Sefton Council prioritise this oh so difficult site above other alternatives?

Answers on a post card to Sefton Planning Dept…….

Oh, and by the way, I’m guessing that the ‘temporary’ road speed markings down the rural part Green Lane are associated with trying to control construction traffic accessing the site?

*Note:- The site is being accessed through Maghull’s streets and lanes but it’s actually wholly within Lydiate.

Housing Crisis – However you look at it the real issue is the lack of social housing

How many times have we watched politicians of all colours wringing their hands in an attempt to look like they are tackling our nationwide housing crisis? Far too many times.

We’ve had ‘Help to Buy’ and all the other incentive schemes to get young folk onto the housing ladder but there’s strong opinion that these initiatives do little more than put more money in developers pockets whilst probably keeping house prices high! But however you cut it none of these politician’s schemes are addressing the real problem – the huge lack of social housing.

Yes, we all know that this crisis had it’s seeds set back when 1980’s Thatcherism brought in ‘Right to Buy’ for council houses because the money raised from the sales was not used to build new council/social housing. It’s now generations since that policy was brought in and each year that passes we fail to build enough social houses for rent.

Not everyone wants to own their own home but many who do will sadly never afford it due to our low wage culture.

The effect of all this has been an explosion in the private rented housing sector, but with rents often much higher than the cost of a mortgage. Of course, those who want to save up for a deposit can’t do so in part because they are paying such large amounts to their private landlords! A housing trap indeed and those who are the poorest suffer the most with poor housing conditions, landlords not doing repairs and eviction when the rents outstrip their ability to pay them. At this point local councils have to pick up the problem of homeless people and this becomes a bigger problem week by week, month by month…..

And let’s not get all rose tinted spectacles about how council housing used to be because in many cases it was poor and it led to the Decent Homes Standard that Blair’s government brought in. Trouble is there are still many homes in the social housing/council housing/housing association sector that still don’t meet those standards.

The regulation of housing associations also looks to be far too light touch with some of them, particularly we are told the larger ones, not delivering decent homes or doing repairs in a timely way. Government only seems interested in scoring housing associations over how many new properties they build and no one is keeping an eye on the standards by which they manage their properties. There’s also a worrying slide towards not having strong tenant participation in the running of housing associations.

So we don’t have anywhere near enough social houses and those we do have are at best patchy in terms of their management/maintenance. At the same time we are sacrificing more Green Belt and high grade agricultural land to build houses, which will be almost all privately owned/privately rented thereby not meeting our real housing needs. And that’s not even adding into the pot that the houses we are building are often 3, 4 & 5 bedroomed properties when we also need 1 and 2 bedroomed houses, bungalows etc. for our aging population.

Housing crisis, we certainly have one, but our politicians have their heads firmly in the sand with their fingers in their ears so what they won’t see and can’t hear is not happening.

Local Hero is probably my all time favourite film

I came across this article on the BBC website recently and it immediately took me back to that wonderful film Local Hero which I have seen so many times:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-47934197

Progress and nostalgia meeting head on, no wonder the local council is trying to tread carefully

It also took me back to the early days of my time as a Sefton Councillor (early 2000’s) when new mobile phone mast planning applications were matters of huge controversy everywhere. Now, like television aerials, telegraph poles and electricity pylons, they are just just a part of every local street scene.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Bikers against road plan

Readers of this blog site will know that I have been posting for a long time now against the plan of Highways England to build a new access road to the Port of Liverpool right through this lovely Country Park. I was delighted therefore to read in the Champion newspaper (3rd April) that a Cycle Safari organised by Merseyside Environmental Trust/Merseyside Cycling Campaign stopped in this South Sefton Park to register their objections to the road building plan.

Nice to see fellow cyclists getting involved in trying to stop the Highways Agency bulldozers.

An idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

Liverpool – Alfred Waterhouse, the city’s very own world famous architect

North Western Hotel – Liverpool

I stumbled across Waterhouse almost by chance having photographed a couple of the buildings he had a hand in – Rochdale Town Hall and Nottingham’s Prudential building – little did I realise that this prolific and famed architect was a son of Aigburth, Liverpool. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about him:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_and_civic_buildings_by_Alfred_Waterhouse

And here are my shots of Rochdale Town Hall and Nottingham’s Prudential Building (warning the Nottingham shot includes the statue of a very unpopular man in Liverpool!) :-

Waterhouse designed the Tower after the original one was destroyed.

Prudential Building Nottingham designed by Waterhouse

The lead photo is, of course, Liverpool’s own North Western Hotel (now student accommodation) on Lime Street which Waterhouse designed – a quite magnificent building. And there are other buildings of his in Liverpool – The Royal Infirmary, Turner Memorial Home, Part of Newsham Park Hospital, The Prudential Assurance Building and The Victoria Building of Liverpool University.

Although he moved away from Liverpool at an early age I wonder why the City does not celebrate this most successful of architects who is probably best known as the designer in chief of the quite wonderful Natural History Museum in London. Indeed, I have only found one available book about his famous man and that’s with regard to his influences and work in the building the London Museum. Here’s a photo of the book:-

And one final thought. Is there a family connection between Alfred Waterhouse and the former Sykes Waterhouse Estate Agency based in Liverpool?

The lead photo is amongst my Flicker shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/