Some Good news about Sefton’s Green Belt but are some silly games being played out?

Last night at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee two important decisions were made and from my perspective both were very much the right decisions.

Firstly, an application to build on Green Belt land in Melling Civil Parish right up to the boundary with Aintree Village Civil Parish was firmly rejected. The land under threat (to build 100 houses upon) is bounded by the M57 Motorway, The River Alt and Spencers Lane. A map detailing where this site is located is below:-

The site is the upside down triangle just below the middle of this map right next to the M57 Motorway.

The site is the upside down triangle (with A519 on it) just below the middle of this map right next to the M57 Motorway. Click on the photo to enlarge it

Aintree Village Community Action Group came to speak to the Planning Committee meeting (held in Southport Town Hall) to press it to reject this planning application.

Interestingly, Labour voted against the development but I can’t help but feel that they are playing games here. You see it suits Labour to be seen as saving some Green Belt from development as it acts as a smoke screen for those areas of Green Belt they are promoting for development and yes some of those sites are within Melling Civil Parish. Beware that political party claiming, as I am sure they will, that they are defending the Green Belt!

The second site whilst also technically within Green Belt has been covered in my postings a number of times on this blog. It’s the Ashworth South site where there has been general agreement amongst local environmental campaigners that it should be released for development because it has been developed before, was going to be the site of a new prison that had planning permission, and it will provide a much needed second railway station for Maghull. The map below shows the site:-

The large red area is where Labour want to build houses and industrial premises. The orange area is the Ashworth South site.

The large red area is where Labour want to build houses and industrial premises. The orange area is the Ashworth South site. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Readers of this blog will recall that Labour have been all over the place about this site and for reasons no one can understand. They jumped on the band wagon to support the new station but have been unwilling pledge their support for the development of the rest of the site. And one could not happen without the other in that without a financial contribution from the housing development Maghull North Station would be short of the money required to be constructed. This Labour reluctance to support the development of this site was at complete odds with their own draft Local Plan for Sefton which incredibly designates a massive Green Belt site just across the road for hundreds and hundreds of houses and an industrial park.

But last night Labour finally fell into line with everyone else and supported the development of the Ashworth South site for around 350 houses and a new railway station. So why all the ducking and diving on Maghull Town Council by Labour?

So two important decisions were made last night and both went the way that I, my Lib Dem colleagues and local environmental campaigners have been fighting for. Sadly, I suspect they may well be the last of the good news on Sefton’s Green Belt because, unless there is a sea change in Labour’s approach to the Sefton Local Plan, they will be soon be voting for huge developments on it across the Borough.

What Labour & land owners/developers have planned for Sefton’s East Parishes – Green Belt building on a massive scale – Posting 4 Aintree & Melling

Posting 1 covered north eastern Lydiate, Posting 2 western Maghull & Lydiate and Posting 3 eastern Maghull.

This posting covers Melling and Aintree Village and the hugely controversial Peel proposal for a logistics facility on Melling’s green fields and Green Belt.

Let’s start again with a map so we can orientate ourselves. Click on the map to enlarge it:-

The top blue site is the one we will cover in posting %. The blue area to the north of the M57 Motorway is the Peel site. The blue areas on the south side of the M57 are other developers/landowners desired sites to build houses on. The 3 small orange areas are already in Labour's draft Local Plan for Sefton to be built upon.

The top blue site is the one we will cover in posting 5. The blue area to the north of the M57 Motorway is the Peel site. The blue areas on the south side of the M57 are other developers/landowners desired sites to build houses on. The 3 small orange areas are already in Labour’s draft Local Plan for Sefton to be built upon. Switch Island is on the left hand side of the map.

The huge Peel logistics site is one that has got local environmental campaigners on the campaign trail to try to block it. They are very well organised and having met them they are a formidable bunch indeed. The Peel site has changed since this map was produced by Sefton Council and it now requires a smaller footprint I understand. However, the issue remains that the land is high grade agricultural land used to grow food.

To look, as I have done, from Henry and Christine Glover’s Wood Hall Farm over the fields towards Aintree Village is a view worth remembering. To think that it could become a view of massive logistics warehouses is hugely depressing.

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For the life of me I can’t understand why any government of any colour has not stopped developments on high grade agricultural land. Did we learn nothing from the Second World War when we were kept alive by food that had to be imported. And we remain dependent on imported food now. This is not sustainable living and future generations will pay a heavy price for our mismanagement of quality agricultural land!

The land to the south of the M57 is a very useful buffer between landlocked Aintree Village and the motorway. To build on it now is hardly a sensible way forward is the view of Aintree Village Parish Council. I would add that, like Lydiate Parish Council, Aintree Village Parish Council has been leading the local campaign to save the Green Belt – so sad that Maghull Town Council (Labour run) just rolled over!

Next posting (number 5) will cover southern Maghull.

Concerns about developers ambitions in the East Parishes part of Sefton

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by a number of people about the ‘additional sites’ that Sefton Council is presently consulting upon – that consultation ends on 9th August, I would add.

To recap we have a draft Local Plan in place and readers will know how I have fought against Green Belt and high grade agricultural land being built upon. The ‘additional sites’ are those which developers and land owners want brought into the Local Plan before it is finalised. I suppose you could say they want their sites brought in either as an alternative to those the Council has already selected or in addition to those sites.

The battle is clearly bigger in the East Parishes part of Sefton than anywhere else

For me it is sadly more of the same as our Labour-led Council is already planning to allow building on huge swathes of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt to the east of Maghull and Lydiate. But developers and some land owners want the Council to agree to even more building on additional sites that would truly swamp Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree Village and Melling in housing and industrial parks.

This has become a lottery from which we can all only be losers. The Council is already putting at risk the character of Maghull by allowing it increase in size by just under 25% and in poor old Lydiate it could as high as a 35% increase! But developers want more with a huge plan to build onto the western side of Maghull and Lydiate from Green Park to Bells Lane. And even that is not enough as they also want to extend the building on the eastern side of Lydiate even further.

Down in Melling they are facing the potential for the land on the northern side of the M57 to become a logistics park from Switch Island to Brewery Lane and a number of sites in Aintree Village are also under threat from developers, one being the other side of the M57 – between it and Oriel Drive.

I am appalled by what Sefton Council has agreed to so far in its draft Local Plan as it will be giving the green light to building on the very land that we and future generations need to grow food upon. The additional sites, should any of them be agreed to, can only worsen the environmental catastrophe.

The big question is will the Labour-led Council agree to more Green Belt land being built upon? They said not so long ago they were going to defend the Green Belt but then voted to build on it! I hope they sober up before they make the East Parishes part of the Borough a sea of buildings whilst destroying its agricultural land for good.

Maghull/Aintree Green Belt attack comes in from Peel Holdings

www.crosbyherald.co.uk/news/crosby-news/2014/01/02/port-of-liverpool-developers-call-for-70-hectares-of-green-belt-land-to-be-released-68459-34191563/

The Crosby Herald has the story – see link above.

Most of the land around the communities of Lydiate, Maghull, Aintree and Melling (known as the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough), that is undeveloped, is high grade agricultural land and most of it is under attack to be developed by land owners, developers, land banks etc.

Now Peel Holdings whats to develop land between Maghull and Aintree as a ‘Strategic Employment Location’. If memory serves me correctly this is a similar area of land to that which was previously put forward as an alternative site for the hugely controversial TESCO mega rebuild of Kirkby Town Centre.

Would any high grade agricultural land be left in Sefton if the developers and land owners got their way? Whats the point of having employment sites for future generations when there will be nowhere for those future generations to grow their food?

Interestingly, and on a more positive note, the same Crosby Herald article says that Peel Holdings share the concerns of Sefton Lib Dems about the need to develop the railway line into the docks as an alternative to more road building through Bootle.