If you live in Lydiate you should have had a leaflet from the Parish Council in the past week or so all about the proposed Neighbourhood Plan for the Civil Parish of Lydiate.
It was not a bad leaflet actually apart from one rather surprising word in it. That word was ‘scale’ and the context in which the words was used is this:-
‘Influencing the scale and design of new [housing] developments’
Now, what can’t a Neighbourhood Plan do? It can’t be at odds with the Borough’s (in our case Sefton Borough) Local Plan. That means, as far as housing is concerned, that Lydiate’s Neighbourhood Plan can’t say that less houses should be built in Lydiate but it can say that more housing should be built.
Now look at the sentence the word ‘scale’ is used in again and remember that the only influence the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan can have on house numbers is to increase the number to be built. So why say ‘scale’ unless you mean you really do wish to up the number of houses that are to be built?
Could it be that Lydiate Parish Council are mistakenly of the view that their Neighbourhood Plan can reduce the number of houses that are going to be built? Frankly, I would find that rather hard to believe as I have heard professional planners make it so clear so often that a Neighbourhood Plan can’t propose that less houses be built than the number in the Borough Council’s Local Plan.
Is Labour-led Lydiate Parish Council seriously suggesting therefore that even more Green Belt and high grade agricultural land be concreted over for additional houses? Frankly, I would doubt it as the Lydiate electorate has recently taught Labour a very hard lesson about being straight with them over the Green Belt. So what on earth do they mean by the word ‘scale’?
In a letter to the Observer, Matt Thomson of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England says that planning policy allows for the review of the green belt boundaries in appropriate circumstances. However, the CPRE would prefer to see this done strategically rather than through the current piecemeal erosion. He suggests that any review would have to take into account the needs of the whole of the relevant green belt area and consider the reasons for designating land in the first place.
The Observer covered this story.
Now despite my being a little uncertain about CPRE (previous postings refer about their Sefton Branch) this is an important point. Environmental campaigners are not trying to defend every single piece of Greenbelt and in some exceptional circumstances there are plots of land within it that can be sensibly developed. The Ashworth South site in Maghull being a clear example of this. BUT in the vast majority of circumstances Green Belt should remain just that. Not only that but where Green Belt is also high grade agricultural land the answer always should be no, no, no to development. And it is this latter point that groups like CPRE need to fight for in my view.
With thanks to LGiU for the lead to this story.
A website launched recently by the Cabinet Office urges members of the public to find neglected government-owned buildings that could be sold. The site lists around 31,000 publicly owned assets and is intended to encourage individuals and organisations to challenge central and local government about underused property. Under a “right to contest” introduced in January, anyone can now force the government to explain why a building or plot is not being used fully and, if the department that owns it cannot justify its current use, it will be forced to release it for sale.
The site is reached via the link below and it is quite interesting to see what information is held on it if you put in a community name and search for Government owned land:-
The Guardian originally ran this story
With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this posting
Planning rules should be abolished
Architect Karl Sharro writes in the Times that with the provision of new homes at historically low levels, we must sweep aside all planning rules and let people build what they want. He explains that the planning system continues to artificially restrict the supply of land available for development, while also making the process of obtaining a planning permission lengthy, complicated and costly. He says the planning system was created for a different era, initially its aim was for the construction of new towns and homes. However, today planning is more concerned with controlling development rather than encouraging it. As well as abolishing planning controls, Mr Sharro suggests that planning departments are transformed to regain their original purpose: creating development rather than stifling it.
Today – The Sunday, News Review, Page: 7
How on earth does this makes sense? Instead of us trying to sensibly control what is built where this ‘plan’ is to seemingly to let anything happen anywhere! We need more control over building on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land not less. Indeed, we need a total ban on building high grade agricultural land if we are to leave any food growing places for future generations.