The building of houses at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road has proved to be hugely controversial not least because of access difficulties to the site through narrow residential roads.
The Turnbridge Road site in May of this year after construction had started
This site is also odd because whilst the access to it is via Maghull all the new properties will actually be in Lydiate as the Maghull Brook which runs at the end of Turnbridge is in fact the Maghull/Lydiate boundary.
Building on the site is now well advanced and this posting is not meant to be rehearsal of all the controversy to date (which I have blogged about before) but to give some welcome news about the adjacent Leeds Liverpool Canal Towpath.
I had heard from goodness knows what source back during the planning application stage that the Canal and Rivers Trust had made a bid for some planning gain money from the site (usually known as Section 106 money) to do up a section of their towpath through Lydiate. But I was unsure whether this bid had been successful so I raised the matter at Lydiate Parish Council’s meeting on 23rd July and our local Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon agreed to take up the query for me. Pat’s now come back to me to confirm that Sefton Planners have been given half of the money by the developer for the towpath works and the other half will be paid over when the 20th house is constructed on this site.
A section of towpath through Lydiate close to the Turnbridge Road development site.
So there it is at least some good news within what has been and still is a hugely disruptive building period for residents living in the Turnbridge Road, Green Lane Green Park Estate area. What I don’t presently know is the detail of when and how the Canal & River Trust intend to carry out the towpath upgrade after Sefton Council passes the money over to them. More news when I have it though……
Click on the photos to enlarge them
You only have to pick up a copy of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper or look at comments on the Maghull Community Facebook page to see how troublesome this site is proving to be during the early stages of construction work to realise what a tough site it was always going to be to build on.
And before you think oh here’s that damn environmental campaigner going on about stopping development and building on agricultural land again just bear with me…..
When Sefton Council chose the sites that it was willing to take out of Green Belt/allow to be built upon in its Local Plan, why was this site picked?
I ask because it has proven to be a devil of a site to develop due to the restricted access to it. What with a weight limited canal swing bridge, narrow estate roads & country lanes and two primary schools to negotiate those of us with local knowledge have been left scratching our heads. For less than 50 housing units it makes you wonder what the imperative was to get this particular site built upon.
Now don’t get me wrong I was an opponent of Sefton’s Local Plan whilst I was on the Borough Council (until 2015) and continued to fight it (in my capacity as a Lydiate Parish Councillor) after I left that Council and yes I have ranted many times about why we need to protect things like high grade agricultural land from being built on. But that’s not my point here. Putting to one side feelings about the rights and wrongs of building on Green Belt and agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, why from a strategic planning perspective did Sefton Council prioritise this oh so difficult site above other alternatives?
Answers on a post card to Sefton Planning Dept…….
Oh, and by the way, I’m guessing that the ‘temporary’ road speed markings down the rural part Green Lane are associated with trying to control construction traffic accessing the site?
*Note:- The site is being accessed through Maghull’s streets and lanes but it’s actually wholly within Lydiate.
Turnbridge Road site as it is today
One thing I did not do in my last posting about what went on at the Sefton Council Planning Committee last Wednesday was to mention how the political parties voted over this contentious matter. (I often do not dabble in the politics behind some of my postings when I am sharing them on other forums where party political comment is inappropriate)
What I saw was 7 Labour votes for the planning application and 5 votes against as follows – 3 Lib Dem, 1 Tory, 1 Independent. Frankly, this is no surprise to those of us who have tracked the progress of Sefton’s Local Plan, which has taken many, many acres of former Green Belt and some of the very highest grade of agricultural land across the Borough out of such protection for building purposes.
Since Sefton Labour did their about -turn (saying they would protect the Green Belt and then voting to build on it) Labour has been consistent in their line of taking land out of Green Belt. Do you remember this Labour poster from their protect the Green Belt days:-
Labour poster displayed in Lydiate – October 2013 – how much must Labour be regretting put these posters up because they voted on Sefton Council to build on the Green Belt!
The election of two independent councillors in Maghull/Lydiate and indeed the independent councillors also elected in Formby are a direct consequence of Labour backing building on Green Belt via Sefton Council’s Local Plan.
Tonight the contentious planning application for new housing was before Sefton Council’s Planning Committee for the land (in Lydiate) off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road.
Big turn-out of protesting residents at tonight’s Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting in Bootle Town Hall.
Turnbridge Road was the second item on the agenda following another contentious application for the former Peerless Factory site on Dunnings Bridge Road in Netherton. Oddly the Peerless site seemed to be almost a model of what community engagement in the planning process should be whereas Turnbridge sadly looked to be nothing like that.
June Avery addressing the Planning Committee
Local resident June Avery was presenting the case for local people who live close to the Turnbridge Road site in Maghull and Lydiate and she was an excellent advocate for local views and concerns. She was followed by someone speaking on behalf of Wain Homes (the developer who is to build on the site) and he did not, in my view, answer many of the concerns that June had raised in the detail that was required. I thought he was particularly weak on the issue of engagement with local residents, his line being that the site was consulted upon during the development of Sefton Council’s Local Plan and that no further consultation was needed, or words to that effect. His words did not go down well with some members of the Planning Committee who raised issues about his contribution and the implications of what he had said.
This then led to a protracted discussion about whether the Planning Committee was going to defer making a decision on the application for more information or whether it would vote on the matter tonight. The latter won out and a vote was taken. I think it was 7 votes for the application and 5 against and the only change was a condition to try to bring Wain Homes to the table to discuss issues about the site with residents. Whether this will work I am not at all sure.
So the application is now passed and the developer will get on with construction. But what really struck me was that on the same night at the same Planning Committee there were two applications which seemed to be at opposing ends of the spectrum in terms of community engagement. Everyone seemed pleased with the developer of the former Peerless site for the lengths they had gone to in taking residents views on board. Suffice to say that my impression was that few if any of those present tonight thought the same about the Turnbridge Road site.
So a small part of the Maghull/Lydiate Green Belt is now officially lost but there are far bigger sites in the sights of developers and many more acres of Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land at great risk locally.
Yes we will get more housing, but will it meet local needs i.e. social housing, housing for the elderly and housing for those trying to get onto the housing ladder? At the margins maybe but in the main it will almost certainly not. Sacrificing Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land is a very big step indeed (and it’s one I opposed) but if we go ahead and do it whilst not even meeting local housing needs then it becomes a huge mistake as we will never get the land that grows our food back.
I have covered the development of this site for housing many times on this blog site right through from Sefton Council deciding to take it out of the Green Belt to the unlicensed felling of many trees and the difficulties there will be in accessing the site during any construction period. And of course as I was heavily involved in the fight against Sefton Council releasing land from the Green Belt, during my time as as local Sefton Councillor, this is a matter close to my heart.
Sheila and I made a submission to Sefton Council about the original planning application for this site (the plan has since be slightly amended but is substantially the same in my view) and it can be accessed via this link:-
Today Planning Committee members of Sefton Council visited the site and those raising concerns about the development were there too:-
And just to reiterate something that needs to be understood, the whole of the development site is within Lydiate but the access to it will be from Maghull’s Turnbridge Road.
And the debate now moves on to the meeting of Sefton Council’s Planning Committee to be held at Bootle Town Hall on Wednesday 5th July (which will decide upon the application) where a petition will be presented by local resident June Avery.
Click on the photos to enlarge them