Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall (June 2013) trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.
I have said many times that there is no need to build on high grade agricultural land across England. As a Sefton Councillor, a Maghull Town Councillor, Lydiate Parish Councillor and then after coming off both Sefton & Maghull Councils I fought alongside environmental campaigners opposing the Sefton Local Plan which designated high grade agricultural land for house building. We LOST….
This is a matter I’ve blogged about far more times than I care to recall but the underlying feeling of those of us opposing Local Plans across England was that there must be sufficient brownfield sites to deliver the housing* we have long been told is urgently required. However, the process to identify building land and indeed land use generally has always been flawed. Scoping it out on a council by council area basis has been looking thorough the wrong end of the telescope for me. In my view it should have been done and needs to be done at a regional level. The old process was called Unitary Development Plans but they then morphed into Local Plans although still tackled on a council by council basis.
This article on CPRE website is very interesting and informative:-
And as CPRE say in a Tweet today – BREAKING: We’ve found that there is enough brownfield land for 1.3 million homes – enough to meet government housing targets for the next five years.
There is already enough land to build the homes we need – so why deregulate the planning system?
* Of course we campaigners against the Sefton Local Plan were not just concerned about the concreting over high grade agricultural land, but what kind of houses would be built anyway. Many of us were of the view that the real housing need in England is in the social housing sector. On that basis councils, like Sefton, were not only sacrificing the land the feeds us for housing but they were not even gaining much if any social housing in the process!
** Whilst this article is mainly focused on the Tory plan for further planning deregulation (build what you want where you want) it, in my view, also exposes the flawed nature of Local Plans and their predecessor Unitary Development Plans.
The vast Maghull East development (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull
New Government data backs CPRE Green Belt figures – the story is on the CPRE’s web site via the link below:-
Quote from CPRE article – New statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show the largest increase in the amount of Green Belt land released for housing to date
An analysis of the new Government data released today (4 October) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that since 2012 almost 10,000 hectares of Green Belt land have been released from ‘protected’ Green Belt boundaries by local councils. Ten councils have together released more than 5,000 hectares in the past year alone .
Can’t say I’m in any way surprised having spent years trying to stop building on Green Belt and the highest grades of agricultural land in Sefton Borough and now hearing of even more Green Belt development in neighbouring West Lancashire.
Where on earth is the connect between housing, planning, food production and environmental policies here in the UK? And what’s so galling is that even when this precious food growing land is lost we will still not end up with the types of housing that we actually need!
This is a serious problem and I recall seeing builders trying to back out of building the ‘required’ number of affordable homes on development sites during my time on Sefton Council’s Planning Committee. Oh and yes the term ‘affordable homes’ is vague and open to differing interpretations itself.
So have a look at the link above from CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) as their video captures one route developers use to maximise their profit at the expense of the kind of homes communities actually need.
Yes I know, regular readers may recall that I have had my issues with CPRE’s approach to housing matters in Sefton Borough in the past but this campaign is spot on.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England [CPRE] has launched an initiative to identify thousands of derelict sites suitable for new homes in a bid to help solve Britain’s housing crisis without building on the countryside. The campaign, called Waste of Space, is hoping to tap the local knowledge of people across the country about disused buildings and former industrial sites. The CPRE is asking people to nominate sites by tweeting or emailing photographs, which it will compile and publish in a national database. The information will be used to put pressure on the government to increase the incentives for developers to target brownfield sites instead of the countryside.
Frankly this is a great initiative and I say that despite having reservations about the Sefton Branch of CPRE which I feel has not been robust enough locally in defending Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from potential development. In my view, as previously expressed on this site, they are too easily giving in to Green Belt loss so their national organisation launching this initiative is very welcome indeed.
With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this article.