Back some years ago the previous Labour Government (you will find Sefton Labour Party totally in denial about this) had a Regional Strategy which imposed a house building target on Sefton of 500 new houses per year. That Regional Strategy was abolished by the Coalition Government but just hold onto that 500 house building target as we move on.
For a number of years Sefton Council has been developing what it used to call its Core Strategy (no one knew what that was) and now calls its Local Plan. In effect this is, at least the part of it that most folks are interested in, a land use policy for the Borough and when it is finally adopted in 2015 it will replace the present Unitary Development Plan.
Core Strategy, Local Plan, Unitary Development Plan – all the same thing really but with a few changes at the margins.
Remember that 500 house to be built per year that I mentioned before? Well, would you be surprised if I told you that after all the work to date, all the studies, all the paid consultants and even some public consultation in 2011 (to be repeated soon) the figure for houses to be built is still just over 500 per year!
Years have gone by, we have been hit by the worst recession in living memory, the Borough’s population has fallen (one of the biggest falls in the UK) yet here we are still ‘needing’ to build 500 houses per year.
It could make you think that all Sefton’s sums add up to 500 no matter what figures and factors are included in the calculations. No wonder folks are sceptical about what a realistic house building figure for the Borough really is.
And when most of the land that is down to be built on is part of the 2% of England that is high grade agricultural land is there any wonder that no one believes the Council’s stats and sums?