Green Belt loss – Well I’m not surprised, are you?

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:-

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4973-new-government-data-backs-cpre-green-belt-figures?utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=campaigns-update-2018-oct-nonmembers&utm_content=Campaigns+Update+2018+Oct+-+non+members

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 [1].

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!

Building on Green Belt does not provided much at all in terms of affordable housing

Well I’ve been singing that tune for a very long time now, with specific reference to the encroachment onto the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. The BBC has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45079648

My major objection to the vast amount of Green Belt being lost to housing in Sefton Borough, especially with regard to the Maghull & Lydiate area, was of course that the land is predominately high grade arable land that grows the food we eat. To sacrifice such land when only around 2% of England is made up of this level of land quality is utter madness to me.

But of course that very same land is also in Sefton’s Green Belt, so Maghull’s vast urban extension (see lead photo) which is down to be built to the east of the Town in due course means that both high quality food growing land and Green Belt will be lost for ever.

The large red area is the ‘Maghull East’ urban extension to the Town. The M58 Junction 1 is in grey – top right with Prescot Road running north to south on the far right of the map.

Of course I know that we have a housing crisis and I realise that Governments, Councils and many individuals are happy to sacrifice food growing high grade agricultural land to get what they see as much needed housing. But hang on a minute where is the housing crisis in reality? It’s mainly with the affordable housing and the social rented sector and it’s because of the lack of such housing that huge pressure is put on the rest of the housing market.

We are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

So what do we need? We need really affordable housing and social rented housing because the roots of our housing crisis are well planted within the right to buy legislation of the 1980’s. That the money raised from the sale of what were council houses was not used to build more social housing has substantially created the problems we are now living with. On that basis much of the house building required is affordable and social housing but it’s not! it’s more 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses for sale and we are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

Housing ‘Viability Assessments’ the developers tool to back out of affordable housing

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4785-Rural-communities-denied-affordable-housing-as-developers-exploit-loophole?utm_source=cpre&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=viable_villages&utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=2018-viability-report-email&utm_content=2018+viability+campaigns+email

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.

Wrong Houses being being built in the wrong places? CPRE has hit a very important nail on the head here

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4675-the-wrong-homes-in-the-wrong-places?utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=campaigns-update-oct-2017-nonmembers&utm_content=Campaigns+Update+2017+Oct+-+non+members

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has the story on its web site – see link above

I have long thought that here in Sefton Borough we are not addressing local housing needs despite Sefton Council allocating acre after acre of the highest grades of agricultural land for more new housing.

My focus has not only been on protecting high grade agricultural land from development (because it grows the food that we eat!) but also, where we do build houses, they really do need to meet local need. Like many folk I see building more 3 and 4 bedroom houses as being a part of the problem not a solution to the UK housing shortage.

No the real housing need is affordable housing, social housing for rent and housing suitable for our aging population i.e. more single level accessible housing.

The CPRE stance in many way mirrors my own concerns although they seem to have missed out housing for the elderly, which must be a national housing matter not just one related to Sefton Borough. Build housing that the elderly want to move into and it will free up family housing; it’s not rocket science!

I’ve had my issues with CPRE in the past in that I thought they were too laid back with regard to house building on prime agricultural land and Green Belt in Sefton. I also questioned their political leanings when they attended a meeting in Crosby that was not properly party politically balanced. But I think they are on the right track here with regard to their Wrong homes, Wrong Place campaign.

Trouble is governments of all colours have been making a mess of housing policy for generations now.

And only very recently a Conservative Social Care minister jumped back into the so called ‘dementia tax’ solution so favoured by the Tories at the last election and which all but sunk them in June 2017.

It seems the Tories are still arguing that homes are not assets for parents to pass on to their children. That’ll go down well with the voters – NOT!

My point here is that the Tories are still on the wrong path as they remain blind to the need for single level housing that is truly accessible. They don’t seem to understand that older people would move house if there was somewhere they could move to as they get older, at a reasonable cost. As there is not enough such housing many don’t or can’t move out of 3 and 4 bedroom houses because they can’t afford to.

Thanks to Roy Connell for his contribution to this posting

Rimrose Valley walk to oppose new road to Seaforth Docks – 11th September

I have posted about the unwelcome proposal for a new road to Seaforth Docks down the Rimrose Valley Country Park many times before so am pleased to help publicise this event.

RV-Main-Path

www.cprelancashire.org.uk/news-private/current-events/item/2368-walk-planned-to-highlight-current-threat-to-green-belt-land

The Lancashire Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has the story on its web site – see link above

This is a jointly organised walk/protest with Rimrose Valley Friends and it starts from the car park of the Cooksons Bridge Pub in Gorsey Lane, Netherton. But potential participants need to register that they will be attending. Check details on the CPRE web site (link above) on on the Friends web site at:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/events/greenbeltwalk/

Green Belt building – Cameron said he would protect it and Sefton Labour too but it’s going to be built on!

Readers will probably recall that I have long fought the propsals of Sefton Council to build on our Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won then, Labour waved the white fag this time around.

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won then, Labour waved the white fag this time around.

Indeed my first campaign to stop planners building on Sefton’s Green Belt was in 1998 – a campaign we won by the way. It’s ironic therefore only to have the very same piece of land we were trying to protect from development, to the east of Maghull, released for building on by our Labour-run Council some 18 years later!

Labour's massive urban extension to Maghull. The rust coloured area was saved from development in 1998 but Labour have voted to build on it now on Sefton Council.

Labour’s massive urban extension to Maghull. The rust coloured area was saved from development in 1998 but Labour have voted to build on it now on Sefton Council.

The same site east of Maghull with crops growing on it on 24th April 2016. Building on it is madness.

The same site east of Maghull with crops growing on it on 24th April 2016. Building on it is madness.

But this trend of developing Green Belt sites seems to be gathering pace despite David Cameron saying the Green Belt is safe with him, or words to that effect. Our local Labour Party also said they would defend it only for their Sefton Councillors to vote to build on it!

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) recently said this:-

Over 219,000 houses are planned for England’s Green Belt, 60,000 more than in August 2013 when CPRE last made a count.

Having said that I personally found the Sefton Branch of CPRE to be a little slow out of the blocks when it came to standing up to Sefton Labour’s building plans.

So the Green Belt is not safe, our high grade agricultural land is to be built upon and Labour Sefton Councillors who said they would defend it then voted to build on it.

Is there any wonder why folks say politicians can’t be trusted.

Click on the photos/press cutting to enlarge them.