Maghull’s Vast Urban Extension -Sefton Council complains about site it selected to build on!

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will become housing.

Sefton Council produced a Local Plan which it finalised and published in April 2017. In that plan, amongst other hugely controversial sites across the Borough which had been designated for building, was the massive urban extension of Maghull dubbed the Maghull East site.

Presently @1700 houses are expected to be built on that former Green Belt and presently high grade agricultural site which I and many other environmental campaigners fought against. But this is not another rehash of the arguments to save the site from development because we lost and Sefton Council won you might say. No, this is a commentary on what has happened since then as Sefton Council and developers/builders have been working up strategies and plans to deliver this massive urban extension to the Town.

Sefton designated this site, no one else selected it for them

You see Sefton Council designated this site to be built on, no one else selected it for them. Yet now we seem to have a situation where the same Council is complaining that that things are not going well, that things have been flawed, that the site is going to have all kinds of detrimental effects on Maghull etc. etc. We’ve even heard Sefton moaning about the Town’s infrastructure being unsustainable if things are not put right.

I’m sure all those concerns are only too valid as they are amongst those raised by those of us who campaigned against this monster site being developed in the first place. Indeed, it was obvious to us that developing such a huge site as this would be full of difficulties and that’s even if you, like Sefton Council, felt it was sensible to go ahead with!

Sefton Council is fighting against a process which it put in place!

My point? Sefton Council is now fighting against the consequences of developing a site which it chose itself. Maybe it should have thought through what it was planning to do before agreeing to do it because the drainage, traffic, infrastructure, schools, doctors/dentists and other environmental issues (or indeed the Council’s interaction with developers) were are quite predicable problems.

We have reached a stage now where Maghull residents, many of whom opposed the building in the first place, have had to rise up again because the development they did not want has turned into the organisational mess that they feared it would and all because this vast site was picked by their own Council to build upon.

Maghull – Those hugely contentious planning applications for its urban expansion

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will become housing


Place North West has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/sefton-defers-decision-on-1700-homes/

The deferment was of course associated with the Special Planning Committee meeting held last week in Bootle Town Hall.

I guess those of us who fought against this vast former Green Belt/high grade agricultural site being designated for housing in Sefton Council’s Local Plan (I fought it twice – 1998 WON, Most recently – LOST) will be sad but resigned. Resigned to the fact the battle to save the land from development was actually lost when Sefton Council approved its Local Plan on 20th April 2017.

On that date we lost the battle to save the land

The issues at stake now for Maghull are all about how the site will be developed, drained, laid out, the effect on the local infrastructure, the timescale for the building etc. etc. There can be no doubt that an urban extension to Maghull of the scale of 1,600+ houses will have very significant impacts on the highway network, public transport, health facilities, school places, land drainage, you name it.

It was for all these reasons that I fought to to protect this high grade agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, and engaged with the two campaigns to stop the development in 1998 and then again up to April 2017.

Yes clearly Sefton’s Planning Committee now has some huge decisions to face up to/tackle following the Council selecting the vast Maghull East site to build upon. But as Sefton decided to designate such a huge area for housing the problems of actually delivering on that site are a direct consequence of that designation. No ifs, no buts.

Maghull folk, particularly those living around/close to this massive development, have now been pulled into all kinds of issues which concern and worry them. Yes they are trying to influence the Council and developers but I fear that with the planning system in the UK being set up the way that it is that soon Sefton’s Planning Committee will give the green light whilst many issues of concern in that community will be left unaddressed.

Frankly, I have never liked the way town and country planning takes place. It’s too remote from communities, its full of jargon and complexities that seem to be in place to keep ordinary people at arms length. My two years on Sefton’s Planning Committee up to May 2015, when I came off Sefton Council, confirmed this to me. And no this is not a dig at Sefton Planning, its a dig at the whole set up of planning across the UK for generations.

I deeply regret not being able to save both Green Belt and high grade agricultural sites across Sefton Borough from development but I enjoyed working with community campaigners like Maria Bennett, Peter Greener and many many others who put their every effort into those campaigns.

Maybe one day, hopefully soon, Government will value high grade agricultural land more highly than bricks and mortar

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won back then but could not win in the recent re-run of the battle for Maghull East.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Maghull – So how will its vast urban extension measure up car usage wise?

M58 and the vast Maghull East Urban Extension Site

The BBC has an interesting article on its web site about car dependency which is built-in to modern housing estates – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45956792

Having read the piece above, by Roger Harrabin, I immediately thought of the vast urban extension which is planned for the Maghull East site because surely it will become yet another one to add to the list of almost complete car dependency will it not?

I’ve mainly opposed the building of Maghull’s urban extension on environmental and food supply grounds because the land which it is to swallow up is pretty much all of the highest grades of agricultural land that grows our food. However, the piece on the BBC web site raises an altogether different perspective but one which is clearly related to environmental issues too.

Should we be building vast new communities in 2018 and beyond which are effectively car dependent? Surely not. Yes I know Maghull has just had its 2nd railway station constructed in the same geographical area but as its car park is already full before a brick is laid for Maghull’s urban extension will the new home owners simply drive to wherever they work? Well yes in the main that’s exactly what they will do. For that not to be the case the new 1600 houses would need an intensive circular bus services (not one that lasts for just a short period after the houses are built) on at least a 15 minute frequency that matches the train times. Is such an intensive bus service going to be brought in and maintained for years to come with environmentally friendly electric buses? I bet it’s not.

But seriously it is such considerations that need to be built into the planning process of all significant house building projects if we are serious about reducing car dependence and the environmental pollution that goes with it not to mention the hours we all spend in traffic jams.

Taking this train of thought a stage further (and train is the important word here) we will in the not too distant future need Merseyrail to operate on say a 5 minute frequency (as opposed to its 15 one presently). We will also need many more electric circular buses serving Maghull’s 2 railway stations – only then will we be able to turn the tide against the car which we all have become servants to because we are really crap at designing communities in which we can work, live and play without each needing to have an expensive polluting tin can to get us about.

And no I’m not having a go at local politicians for this state of affairs, it’s a problem brought about by successive governments of all colours failing to integrate housing, planning, environmental and transportation policy in a coherent way as we stare down the gun barrel of global warming. Oh and this conundrum is being faced by virtually every urban community.

Maghull’s massive urban extension site

I have photographed this (infamous)* site a number of times so that there’s a record of it as prime high grade, productive agricultural land before the bulldozers arrive at some point in the future. But it is a huge site bounded by Poverty Lane, the M58 Motorway, School Lane and The Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line so it’s hard to get a good shot of it all. Here’s my latest attempt:-

The photo was taken from the Ashworth Motorway Junction bridge and you can see the vastness of the site, which will soon be filled with around 1600 houses and an business park. Some welcome the houses, I morn the loss of high grade agricultural land that feeds us and would have fed future generations. I don’t see how you can celebrate building on such land when there is brownfield land across the county available to build on. Sorry I’m an environmentalist.

* infamous to those who fought to save it from the bulldozers that is.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Maghull – Council still worrying over problems they did not fight when they had the chance to

My letter to the Maghull Champion newspaper in response to Maghull councillors crying crocodile tears over the massive Maghull East development site:-

Dear Sir,

I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read in the Champion that Maghull Town Council leaders are still worrying over the huge urban extension housing development to the east of Maghull which will go a long way towards making the Town 25% larger.

If Maghull Council had got up and fought for the Town when Sefton Council was developing its Local Plan, which dumps 1600+ houses plus some industrial units on some of the highest grade agricultural land in England, then we may not be in the situation we are now.

I was a member of Maghull Town Council for 30 years and led it to oppose development of the very same land in 1998. We won that fight. Yes, it may not have been won this time around but no serious battle was even fought by Maghull Council, end of.

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Member of Lydiate Parish Council

Maghull – It’s eastern urban extension land has been cropping in 2017 but for how much longer?

The Maghull East site is probably the most controversial of all of the Green Belt development sites across the whole Borough of Sefton because it is so vast, indeed it is now referred to as an ‘urban extension’ such will be its size.

The land is predominately high grade agricultural land which grows our food so building on it is utter madness to me. However, we environmental campaigners lost the battle to save it and Sefton Council is to have its will to develop the site for housing and business use.

I thought it would be useful to have a photographic record of the site so I took a photo at the height of summer and another one in this autumn. Both shots are from the same location – the M58 motorway junction bridge at Ashworth. I think you will agree they look radically different despite there being less than 2 months between them. Obviously the weather played its part too:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The photos are also on my Flickr site at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/