Sefton’s Green Belt Housing Plan gets the nod from Scrutiny Committee

Sefton Council’s Local Plan took a step closer last night when the Overview & Scrutiny Committee agreed to endorse the controversial “Preferred Option Document” by the narrowest of margins.

Labour councillors on the Committee outvoted Lib Dems and Conservatives by 5 votes to 4 to send the Document, which proposes the building of thousands of houses on Green Belt land, through to the Planning Committee with no amendments.

The majority of the 5 Labour councillors who voted for the recommendation were from Formby, Crosby and Maghull, ironically the areas where the proposals to build in the Green Belt have been most controversial. Lib Dems Sue McGuire, Simon Shaw and Fred Weavers, together with Conservative Terry Jones (all from Southport) voted against the recommendation.

Lower Alt Wind farm – Lydiate Parish Council submits its concerns to both West Lancs and Sefton Borough Councils

Lydiate Parish Council last night passed the following resolution in response to the Planning application that has recently caused a wave of concerns from local residents across the central area of Sefton.

*****

Lydiate Parish Council, having taken account of local concerns and the recent public exhibition held in the Parish wish to raise the following concerns and objections to the plan that is presently before West Lancs Borough Council.

* We have significant ecological concerns regarding the location of the proposed development. They relate to negative potential impacts on bird species and designated breading sites within Sefton and within West Lancashire.

* In our view the plans do not consider the effects of the proposals on the agricultural land. There is a high proportion of ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land in the area and its potential loss is a significant concern.

* The area in which the development is proposed is low lying and thinly populated. The landscape has wide open views. The local character of the landscape will be hugely and negatively impacted on by this proposal.

* Noise generated by the proposed development is a significant concern.

* Shadow Flicker – again a significant concern of Lydiate residents.

Sefton Council to allow building of 600 new houses in green fields to the north of Churchtown over the next 10 years

Sefton Council will allow building of 600 new houses in green fields to the north of Churchtown over the next 10 years, and 1000 new homes around Ainsdale, if Sefton’s new Local Plan is passed. This is in addition to homes that they expect to be built anyway within the present confines of the town. But Southport’s Liberal Democrat councillors are concerned that the right balance is not being struck.

Sefton Council’s Local Plan, which will go out to consultation if approved at the Council’s Scrutiny Committee in Bootle on Tuesday (28th May), includes these homes and thousands more in the Green Belt around Maghull, Thornton and and Formby.

The principal Churchtown site (538 houses) being proposed by the Council is off Moss Lane, north of the Southport Old Links Golf Club. A smaller area near Three Pools has also been included with over 100 homes and is also opposed by local councillors.

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

Cllr. Marianne Welsh

Norwood Ward Lib Dem Councillor Marianne Welsh says: “This is a highly-controversial proposal the Council is making. We had a huge meeting about this area at the Golf Club several months ago when this suggestion was first put forward. I do not think anything which has been said since then will alter residents views significantly.”

Cllr. Haydn Preece

Cllr. Haydn Preece

Lib Dem Councillor Haydn Preece is concerned at the concentration of new housing proposals around Ainsdale where almost 1000 new dwellings are set to be built “Ainsdale has been proposed to take more than our fair share of development,” he says.

“I can accept the proposals off the Coast Road, where the Caravan Park is now, but I am totally opposed to building on the Ainsdale High School Site where the Council want over 200 new homes. I have been saying to residents whose homes adjoin the school over the past three years that we have to “use it or lose it.” I think most residents would much prefer these green fields to be used for sports activity rather than housing. We cannot afford to lose precious playing fields.”

Cllr. Fred Weavers

Cllr. Fred Weavers

“The Council should be trying desperately to avoid building on Green Belt“, says Kew Ward Councillor Fred Weavers, “especially decent agricultural land. The UK needs to be able to feed itself. The Liberal Democrats only accepted the 1000 home expansion at Kew because the land concerned is a former tip and NOT Green Belt.”

Cllr. Tony Dawson

Cllr. Tony Dawson

Central Southport Councillor Tony Dawson says “The need for hundreds of new homes is inescapable. But, unfortunately, the Council’s planning department has been very passive for many years under Labour leadership. If the developers are not to have a ‘field day’ locally, we need to have a far more pro-active approach to making the most of the area which is already built-up, including large areas above some Town Centre shops and railway land.”

DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS ON GREEN BELT IN SOUTHPORT

Lib Dem Cllr. Marianne Welsh reports that at a recent briefing at Bootle Town Hall councillors in Southport heard that proposals are going forward for building a large scale housing development on green belt land in an area where there has already been strong public outrage to this. The area earmarked is off of Moss Lane in Norwood Ward, near to Souhtport Old Links Golf Course.

Says Marianne, one of the councillors for this ward ‘This development is totally unacceptable and should not be progressed. As well as building on the green belt the immediate area is already heavily populated and would put a heavy strain on this community’s amenities. Also Sefton Council’s assessment of this parcel of land said it was within 600m of a primary school and a GP/Health Centre, although true this will put an extra burden on both of these which it appears no one has thought about. It is also not near any rail networks, has no leisure centre nor does it have a cycle route. We will oppose this proposal.’

For added information at the Bootle briefing councillors although shown the plans for the various developments proposed in Sefton were told by officers they could not have copies to take away. This was a common concern expressed by Lib Dem councillors – Why were the proposals only to be looked at then taken away?

I will be publishing more on the Southport land development proposals from Sefton Council soon.

Green Belt – Proposals to build on it from Sefton Council could see Maghull’s population rise by 20%!

Shocked Lib Dem councillors, who have consistently fought to preserve the Green Belt around the East Parishes communities, of Sefton Borough are horrified at proposals, from Labour led Sefton Council, that could see a massive development of houses and a business park on high grade agricultural land.

We Lib Dems fought for the Poverty Lane site in Maghull in 1998 as this press cutting shows

We Lib Dems fought for the Poverty Lane site in Maghull in 1998 as this press cutting shows

The leaflet that the then Lib Dem run Maghull Town Council delivered to all households in the Town in 1998. That  battle for the Green Belt was won.

The leaflet that the then Lib Dem run Maghull Town Council delivered to all households in the Town in 1998. That battle for the Green Belt was won.

After years of talking, Sefton Council has finally said where it thinks houses and employment sites should be built within the Borough. The sites include a huge swathe of land bounded by Poverty Lane, the M58, the Liverpool-Ormskirk Railway line and School Lane. This massive site was last fought over in 1988 when Maghull Town Council, then Lib Dem run, successfully led the campaign for it not to be developed. Sefton say that over 1,600 houses could be accommodated on this site alone.

Cllr. Andrew Blackburn attended a briefing meeting held by Sefton Council Planners, representing Lydiate Parish Council, and he says “Sefton Council Officers have finalised their proposals on The Sefton Plan. They intend to recommend “Option 2”, which would see approximately 510 new homes built every year between 2015 and 2030. Within the Urban area they believe that around 5,600 homes could be accommodated. This therefore means that roughly 5,700 would have to be built within the present Green Belt.”

As well as the massive Poverty Lane site they have identified the following sites in the East Parishes which, if “Option 2” is approved, will be developed:

MAGHULL
Land bounded by School Lane, Railway Line and Park Lane (presently the site where a Prison had been planned). This site would have 357 residential properties built on it.

AINTREE
Land off Wango Lane, next to Valley Close. This site would have 57 residential properties built on it.

WADDICAR
Land bounded by Waddicar Lane and Rainbow Park. This site would see 141 residential properties built on it.

Land bounded by Waddicar Lane and Leeds/ Liverpool Canal, behind Chapel Lane, and Woodland Road. This site would have 144 residential properties built on it.

URBAN HOUSING
Across the whole of East Sefton it is estimated that there would be 393 residential properties built on various bits of land, like the Damfield Lane development.

“Option 2” RESERVES
These sites would only be used if some of the areas already listed in “Option 2” could not be developed for some reason. However, this does not prevent developers putting in Planning Applications with the hope that, even if Sefton refused permission, Planning Inspectors may grant permission.

LYDIATE
Land bounded by Lambshear Lane, Sandy Lane, Moss Lane and Liverpool Road. This site would have 819 residential properties built on it. It was indicated that the developer who is interested in this site is very keen, and may submit a planning application no matter what Sefton agrees in its policy.

The petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to the threatened development site

The Lib Dem raised petition being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council next to the threatened Lamshear Lane development site in March this year

Land bounded by Kenyons Lane, Liverpool Road and Northway (locally known as Tyson’s Triangle). This site would have 257 residential properties built on it.

MAGHULL
Land bounded by Leeds/Liverpool Canal, Willow Hey, Melling Lane and M58 Motorway. This site would have 89 residential properties built on it.
These proposals will go to various Sefton Council meetings and then they will go out to public consultation from mid July through to August.

Says Andrew “Maghull and the communities around it will face the largest hit! The scale of the proposed developments is truly shocking, especially as the land on which they are proposed to be built is the highest grade agricultural land in England. Only 2% of the English landmass is high grade agricultural land; it is utter madness to consider further building upon it.”

In 1988, as Leader of Maghull Town Council, I led the campaign to stop Green Belt development in and around the Town and readers of this blog will recall that I have recently challenged the Interim Labour Leader of Maghull Town Council to say what she will now do having abstained during the last big Green Belt battle.

This is an official map of agricultural land qualities in Sefton's East Parishes. It shows that virtually all the land that is presently undeveloped is the best and most versatile agricultural land.

This is an official map of agricultural land qualities in Sefton’s East Parishes. It clearly shows (orange and red areas) that virtually all the land that is presently undeveloped is the best and most versatile agricultural land.

The bottom line here is that we could end up with 20% more houses in Maghull if these plans go ahead; clearly such a move would change the character of the community and the best and most versatile agricultural land in England would be concreted over. As an environmental campaigner I am utterly horrified.

Lib Dem Cllrs. Andrew Blackburn and Robbie Fenton with our March 2011 East Parishes map which informed the community which Green Belt sites were being looked at by Sefton Council for development.

Lib Dem Cllrs. Andrew Blackburn and Robbie Fenton with our March 2011 East Parishes map (delivered to virtually every house in Lydiate, Maghull, Sefton & Lunt Villages, Melling and Aintree Village) which informed those communities which Green Belt sites were being looked at by Sefton Council for development.

The only non-controversial site in the list for the East Parishes is the one where the previous Government had said it wanted to build a new prison, on former Ashworth Hospital land.

Sefton’s Green Belt – Why does the total of houses to be built always reach 500 or there abouts?

Back some years ago the previous Labour Government (you will find Sefton Labour Party totally in denial about this) had a Regional Strategy which imposed a house building target on Sefton of 500 new houses per year. That Regional Strategy was abolished by the Coalition Government but just hold onto that 500 house building target as we move on.

For a number of years Sefton Council has been developing what it used to call its Core Strategy (no one knew what that was) and now calls its Local Plan. In effect this is, at least the part of it that most folks are interested in, a land use policy for the Borough and when it is finally adopted in 2015 it will replace the present Unitary Development Plan.

Core Strategy, Local Plan, Unitary Development Plan – all the same thing really but with a few changes at the margins.

Remember that 500 house to be built per year that I mentioned before? Well, would you be surprised if I told you that after all the work to date, all the studies, all the paid consultants and even some public consultation in 2011 (to be repeated soon) the figure for houses to be built is still just over 500 per year!

Years have gone by, we have been hit by the worst recession in living memory, the Borough’s population has fallen (one of the biggest falls in the UK) yet here we are still ‘needing’ to build 500 houses per year.

It could make you think that all Sefton’s sums add up to 500 no matter what figures and factors are included in the calculations. No wonder folks are sceptical about what a realistic house building figure for the Borough really is.

And when most of the land that is down to be built on is part of the 2% of England that is high grade agricultural land is there any wonder that no one believes the Council’s stats and sums?