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 – 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

40 years old – I’ve just re-watched my favourite ever railway programme

I’ve been a railway enthusiast ever since my Grandad on my Mother’s side took me to watch trains in Kirkby-In-Ashfield Nottinghamshire as a toddler. Unsurprisingly, I watch most railway programmes that come on the TV but every now and again I have to go back and watch my favourite one from the original 1980 BBC series of Great Railway Journeys. It’s called Coast to Coast and is in my view a masterpiece with my all time TV presenter Ludovic Kennedy at the helm throughout the 1 hour programme.

I’ve blogged about it before and here’s a link back to that previous posting

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/03/30/american-railways-amtraks-first-40-years-ludovic-kennedy-bill-withers/

So why raise it again now? Well to celebrate the episode’s 40th birthday and why not. If you would like to watch it here’ a link:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tsNhK6vlwc

Merseyrail’s review of 2019

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

The story is on Merseyrail’s video which you can see via the link to You Tube below:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3lEe-ZATeA&feature=youtu.be

A Merseyrail electric unit at Bootle New Strand Station.

Nice to see Maghull’s award winning Station Volunteers featuring on the video…….

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………….