Lydiate & Maghull – Those Neighbourhood Plan Referendums – We were given a vote on the wrong Plan!

Here I am looking at what was protected Green Belt and presently still is high grade agricultural land off Lambshear Lane in Lydiate. It’s been reserved as building land in Sefton’s Local Plan.

If you live in either community did you vote in the 2 separate referendums on the Lydiate or Maghull NP’s on 18th December? I did but with little enthusiasm even though I had a hand in putting the Lydiate one together.

Why my lack of enthusiasm? Because these Neighbourhood Plans will have only marginal influence on the big planning issues that people are concerned about. The significant issues were all ‘settled’ when Sefton Borough’s Local Plan was controversially rammed through Sefton Council by its Labour majority.

It’s the Sefton Local Plan that we should have had a referendum on!

I must admit to being baffled by the publicity surrounding the two NP referendums with even our local MP seemingly getting over-excited about them in the Champion newspaper. You’d have thought that these NP’s were game changers in the world of urban planning because of the hype, when in fact they are only very limited in their effect.

Did I vote yes?. Yes, I did. Would it have made any difference if I had not voted for the Lydiate plan or if either of the plans had been rejected? No, not really.

In simple terms, the electorate was given the chance to vote on the wrong plan. Now a vote on Sefton’s Local Plan, which only Sefton Councillors were able to back or sack, would have been very significant and well worth getting excited about. Why? Because that Local Plan defined which parcels of Green Belt and high-grade agricultural land will be built on across Sefton Borough. In other words, it defined 95% of planning guidance for Sefton Borough whilst the public (on this occasion in Maghull & Lydiate) was thrown a ‘democratic’ option to approve, or not approve’ around just 5% of that guidance.

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

Sorry, I really can’t get excited about a worthy but hardly significant NP for my Lydiate community when I’ve had a hugely controversial Local Plan imposed on me by Sefton Council’s ruling political establishment. The massive Maghull East urban extension, to be built on the highest grades of agricultural land, will still be built – The Maghull NP does not stop that. And in Lydiate, the allocated sites for building houses (again mostly on high-grade agricultural land which feeds us) are unchanged by that community’s NP.

We were thrown one bag of Kevin Carrots to approve or disapprove

As I say the vote was on the wrong plan. We were thrown one bag of Kevin carrots to approve or disapprove of when we should have been considering whether it is wise to build on field after field of them across the joint communities of Lydiate and Maghull.

Labour excited about an Eric Pickles inspired policy

It was also strange how excited the political party (which voted through Sefton’s Local Plan) got about the two Neighbourhood Plans whilst also trying to give the impression that their Local Plan had been nothing to do with them at all. Even odder when you consider that Neighbourhood Plans were promoted by none other than the Tory’s Eric Pickles.

There’s nothing wrong with the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan, I might add, in case you were wondering. It’s just that the context of it and indeed the importance of it has been completely over-played in my view. I have had nothing to do with the Maghull NP I should add.

Maghull – Where will that footpath come out onto Park Lane?

The lack of a long-promised footpath/cycle path from Park Lane to the new Maghull North Station continues to frustrate those who could make good use of it. However, Sefton Council has told me that it will eventually be provided via the developer of the Poppy Fields Housing development – I’ve mentioned this previously on this blog site.

But the other day I was asked where the path will come out onto Park Lane? Well, it was originally constructed when the Ashworth South site was going to be a brand new prison (yes the majority of the path is there already) and if you look through a hole in the wooden fence next to the Park Lane railway overbridge you will see what the camera saw on 5th November – photo above.

As you can see the path was built with signage and a removable bollard to stop vehicles trying to access it.

How long we have to wait for the path to be completed and opened up is a second question to which I presently do not have an answer but I think we all hope it will be sooner rather than later.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Are Sefton Tories backing Highways England plan for new road through it?

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

Defending Rimrose Valley Country Park from having a new road forced through it is a matter close to the hearts of many local people in Sefton Borough. To me, it’s always been an obvious and firm no on environmental grounds.

And then Keith Page brought my attention (see link below) to this article on the Liverpool Echo website:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tory-councillor-wants-new-road-15499566

Rimrose in the foreground and its threat in the background

Does this mean that the official policy of Sefton Tories is to back the new road or are the comments of the Formby Conservative Councillor just his own views?

But what about the reason given for wanting the new road! Really, keeping our local country park free from vehicles is a far, far higher priority. Time for Sefton Tories to clarify their stance on this new road project – Are they backing it?

Maghull – Downed trees at Central Square – Why?

I must admit to being shocked when I saw the felled trees yesterday at the junction of Liverpool Road Noth/Westway as they were a useful screen to the car park and buildings behind them. This is the scene I happened upon:-

Of course, it could be that the reason for the felling has passed me by and others know what it’s all about; I just happened to walk up Liverpool Road Road North on Sunday afternoon and saw this scene.

Thinking back to my days as a Sefton Councillor representing Maghull my memory is that when the previous owners of the Square created the car park on the land at the side of the former HSBC Bank that the trees which have now been felled were deliberately left in place to provide screening. It may even be the case that this was all part of the planning application/approval for the site to become a car park.

I’m a fully paid up tree hugger so any trees being felled upsets me. I would love to know what the felling is all about and why it was considered necessary. Presently, I look upon the scene as environmental vandalism!

Robins Bridge Meadows – Is it just me?

First a bit of personal history; we had our wedding reception at Aughton Chase in 1982.

If memory serves it then closed down in the late 1980s/early 1990s with the building subsequently burning down and becoming derelict. The site was in West Lancs Green Belt and it took many years for it to be released from that for development.

In the past 3 years or so houses, very big houses, have slowly been built across the site with big price tags on them. The site, I might add, is all within Aughton and therefore West Lancashire but it abuts the Lydiate/Sefton Borough boundary.

So why am I rehearsing this 30+ years of history? Well, it’s because of the impression I have gained whilst travelling past this prominent site next to the A59 Northway. Probably best if I illustrate things:-

Do you see what I mean? The high wooden fencing around the site is hardly appealing, is it?

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – So what’s the Bryant House story?

Byant House, at the junction of Shop Lane and Liverpool Road North, used to be leased to Sefton Council who had an outpost of its Social Services Dept. in there and some other municipal functions. However, the Council moved out some years ago. Since then it’s really not had any occupancy at all although it has been touted for use as a children’s nursery and even a Wetherspoons Pub. The latter caused a real stir in the nearby community back in 2011 but of course, it never came to fruition.

The photo above was taken a few days ago and the building has looked like this for quite a while now with little if any sign of it being occupied – so what’s the back story? Answers on a postcard………..

Oh and by the way, when I came to live in Maghull back in 1968 this site was derelict and the ruins of the former Wadworths Butchers’ Shop were still clear to see. John Rowlands in his 1986 book Lydiate & Maghull in Times Past says of this site – ‘In about 1890 William Wadsworth moved from Northampton to take over the butcher’s business’ – ‘The building at the back was the slaughterhouse. Mr Wadsworth owned the field on the left of Shop Lane to graze sheep and cattle. The open area at the front faced the largest of the Maghull [canal] wharves know as Wadsworth’s Wharf’ – ‘Following her husband’s death in 1925 Mrs Wadsworth sold the business to Ernie Cobham’. I’m not sure when the butcher’s business closed down.

What goes around comes around with the site seemingly having no purpose again – unless you know better that is………….