After what seems to have been years of fighting against Labour-led Sefton Council’s Local Plan, which proposes that houses and industrial units will be built on the highest grade of agricultural land, it seems that Labour and the planners have won and we environmental campaigners have lost.
In the last few days the Planning Inspector’s initial findings have been published and my reading of that document is that the inspector is endorsing a great deal of what our Borough Council wants to do.
The document itself is hardly accessible, even though it is a public document, as it is written in terms that most ordinary folk will not be able to relate to. This was brought home to me when a Lydiate resident said this to me “How are the public supposed to understand that gobbledygook”.
The world of planning and planners is a closed one simply because it is full of so much jargon that it is in effect inaccessible to Joe and Jane Public and that in 2016 really is inexcusable.
And in case you think I am being a little unfair here’s a link to the Sefton Council web site which carries the inspectors initial findings:-
Labour-led Sefton Council and those who live in the closed world of town and country planning certainly do live in a very different world to me:-
* Building on the highest grade of agricultural land in the UK on which we grow our food – Is that really a sensible/credible thing to do?
* Potentially increasing the size of communities like Lydiate and Maghull vastly – How will that help with the stretched local services particularly the ever present NHS primary health care/GP crisis?
* Sefton is very low-lying so flooding, as witnessed in Maghull on Boxing Day 2015, is going to be more frequent – Surely it is unwise to build on low -lying land.
And to put the tin lid on it, so to speak, the inspector seems to think that the affordable housing that we do need probably won’t be supplied, in the numbers required, via the Plan or at least that is my reading of his view.
Many of us have been scratching our heads about the supposed housing need. Yes we need affordable housing for young people to be able to get on the housing ladder. Yes we need 1 and 2 bedroom properties because many of us live alone these days and we also need small properties for the retired and elderly to be able to downsize to. We also need more social housing. But will any of this flow from this Plan? It seems unlikely to me.
What we seem to be going to build in Sefton are many more 3 and 4 bedroom properties so increasing our problems not resolving them! It’s as though the Council and planning experts have picked up and looked though the wrong end of a telescope and when this has been pointed out to them they have gone into denial of the obvious.
As an environmental campaigner this is a sad day indeed for the Borough of Sefton but it seems to be a cause for celebration for Labour! Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader of Sefton Council, said: “The initial findings from the Inspector are very supportive and subject to a few minor amendments, set us up on a clear path to adopt the plan.” What’s to be happy about, I ask you what on earth is there to be happy about?????