Maghull – Another excellent concert at Palm House by MWO

Sefton Park Palm House

It’s hard work being a roadie for the flute player transporting all that heavy gear:-) Seriously, Maghull Wind Orchestra performed another great concert in Liverpool’s wonderful Sefton Park Palm House last Sunday.

Conductor Phil Shotton was not a well man but despite that he led the band to play some lovely music in a quite breathtaking venue.

Here are some shots of the concert:-

Orchestral Conversations

Full Palm House

Band leader Phil Shotton – Lost in the Jungle:-)

The lead photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

Maghull – Developments around the new Railway Station

A few changes at Maghull North Station as it nears completion ready for opening in a few weeks time – We are told it opens in May.

Here are some photos of artwork displayed on the School Lane boundary fence to the new station by local artists attending local schools:-

Here’s a shot of the station as it looked on Sunday 18th March:-

And the station building now has a roof, with walls being constructed:-

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Maghull North Station building rises up

A look at the new station’s construction progress on 5th March brought up a similar view of the platforms, lift towers etc. as has been seen for quite a few weeks now. However, the big change has been the steelwork going up for the station building. The following couple of photos illustrate:-

Very little change here

A big change here

The station is still on target for opening in May. I bet the local civic dignitaries are jostling for the best position in the opening day photos shoot already:-)

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Homes to live in – Why healthy communities need a wide rage of housing types

During the years that I spent trying to grapple with the Sefton Borough Local Plan I came to understand housing provision much better and I realised that the Local Plan process (in Sefton as elsewhere) is far more about deciding which land is designated for housing then it is about actual housing need.

Yes I saw and read many worthy documents about land use, housing need etc. but I quickly came to the conclusion that actual housing need is always going to be a secondary issue to the needs and wants of land owners, developers and builders. In my view the Local Plan process simply brings some kind of order to the clamor from land owners and developers who want to have their land set aside for housing so that it climbs in value.

By the way this posting is not a stab at Sefton Council, whose Local Plan I fought every inch of the way, as it’s not intended to be a party political piece at all.

My major point is this. Having lived in the Maghull/Lydiate community for 50 years (33 of those years as a local councillor – Town, Parish and Borough) I like to think I have some understanding of it, it’s history and to be precise, bearing in mind the thrust of posting, its housing situation and needs.

If you look at the joint communities of Lydiate and Maghull they have grown massively since the 1930’s and are virtually unrecognisable now from the rural agricultural communities they once were. The housing built in this period has overwhelmingly been of 3 bedroomed semi-detached style/type. Yes a few bungalows have been sprinkled here and there and in more recent times blocks of the McCarthy & Stone type flats for retired people have sprung up. The other significant changes have been the huge reduction in the amount of social housing (caused by 1980’s Right to Buy legislation) and also the significant rise in privately rented accommodation.

Let’s look a social housing first. It served a purpose in the past and because of Right to Buy it now struggles to serve the same purpose because there is much less of it around. The fact that local authorities have been unable to replace social housing (council housing), as it was lost via Right to Buy, has meant that there is a shortage of it. The lack of social housing means that those on low wages who can’t afford to take on a mortgage or even the sky high rents in the private rented sector are in effect left outside the housing market. My view is that most if not all communities that wish to be more than commuter belt or ‘bed and breakfast’* in nature need a decent supply of social housing.

Here in Sefton Borough what was once council housing has all gone either via Right to Buy or due to the fact that government of the day back in the early 2000’s pushed Sefton Council to hand over it’s remaining housing stock to a social landlord – One Vision Housing was created to enable that transfer to happen. I have not looked at the Maghull/Lydiate housing stats for a while now but on one road in Lydiate which used to have 20+ council houses only 3 are still social housing under One Vision Housing. That’s a staggering reduction in social housing and it illustrates my point very clearly.

And what about private rented housing which has made a massive return in most communities from a time where it had all but died out. That’s until the 1980’s when it started to become very common once again. Trouble is it swung back but with rent levels so high renting privately can often be more expensive these days than buying a house on a mortgage!

So this is where we are but when you add into this mix two very significant factors i.e. we are living much longer and that many young people can’t now take on a mortgage (as their parents did) due to the high cost of housing it starts to make our local housing market quite unbalanced. This is especially the case when what is being built is almost always 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses**.

Let’s look at us old folks first. Some of us, maybe a significant number of us, may well want to downsize to a smaller property which would likely be all on one level for mobility reasons. But I mentioned earlier that Maghull & Lydiate only has a sprinkling of bungalows and the construction of them is rare these days as there’s more money, for land owners and developers’ in building 3 bedroomed houses and bigger. This of course means that being in short supply the price of bungalows is high, probably too high. That in turn means the opportunity to downsize is reduced so singles and couples who would downsize don’t do so and their predominately 3 bedroomed houses do not come onto the market for families to buy.

OK, keep all that in mind and then say to yourself what should a future housing plan for Maghull and Lydiate look like? Well it would surely be a balance between building single level accommodation for the elderly to downsize into, small houses (1 and 2 bedroomed) for young people trying to start on the housing ladder and the reprovision of some of the lost social housing supply. Frankly the building of large numbers of 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed properties would not be the highest priority because we are not really short of such housing.

So there are the bigger issues as I see them. The Local Plan process puts the important housing issues to the back of planning process as it looks to carve up often very high quality land, which presently grows our food ***, for housing that will not even meet local need. And this despite agricultural land being sacrificed under concrete and tarmac. My feeling is that the previous name for these type of plans – Unitary Development Plans – had a similar end result effect as we have not arrived in the housing mess we are presently in because of a Local Plan that has only just been approved. Those previous plans must have had a similar lack of vision for future housing need. The new Local Plan for Sefton simply ensures that what is presently an imbalanced housing market and provision gets worse in the future and I bet this is being replicated in community after community across the land.

This lengthy and somewhat detailed posting has been an attempt to pull together a number of threads that I have previously blogged about. All political parties that have been in government since the 2WW hold responsibility for this housing mess.

* The term ‘bed and breakfast’ was I think first brought into use in this context during the big 1990’s housing boom years when I recall that in the then Sudell ward of Maghull around one third of the electoral register was changing in a year as houses were continually bought and sold. The term meant that the population was significantly transient and people living in communities seeing such huge housing movement were there effectively for the bed and breakfast only and had little ‘buy in’ to the community itself.

** The fact that we are living in generally smaller family units theses days also leads you to conclude that there is another reason for the need to construct more 1 and 2 bedroomed properties.

*** There’s a worrying lack of connection between housing and environmental policy in the UK. Indeed, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has only recently confirmed what it and many of us have been saying for some time i.e. that there is enough brownfield land (previously developed land) to cater for house building needs and that construction on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land is not actually required. Trouble is that pass has already been sold by Councils across England who have released land in Green Belt for development. Having said that of course the Local Plan process itself is at fault here in that each local authority has to have its sown plan. That means that council areas which have large expanses of brownfield land may not allocate it all for housing and those with very little turn their eyes towards Green Belt and high grade agricultural land.

Maghull – Hornby – Portillo – Watch the Maghull/Hornby edition on You Tube

Getting off the train from Liverpool

In case you missed the January screening of the BBC TV programme Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo, which visited Maghull because it was the home of world famous toy manufacturer Frank Hornby, here’s a link to it on You Tube:- apologies as the link to the video has been removed due to a copyright issue it seems.

In the Hornby Room at Meadows Leisure Centre

Following the programme being broadcast the Frank Hornby Trust held an open day at Meadows Leisure Centre and Library in Maghull on 21st January and it was a great success with around 500 visitors on the day. The visiting Hornby tinplate ‘O’ Gauge railway layout (the same one as seen in the TV programme) was very popular with young and old.


Since then the Trust, on which Les French (as seen in the TV programme) and I are 2 of the trustees, has been getting enquiries about when our display cases are available for viewing. Presently there’s no easy answer because the Frank Hornby Room at the Leisure Centre is multi-use so it has a wide range of bookings for activities. On that basis we recommend that anyone wanting to see the display of Hornby related artifacts (Meccano, Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys etc.) contacts the Leisure Centre first to find out when viewing will be possible.

However, this situation should soon change as our display cases are to be moved within the Leisure Centre and following this they should be accessible whenever Maghull Library is open. The move is likely to take place within the next 2 to 3 months and we will ensure that when all is in place again that the opening hours/days are made well known.


By the way The Atkinson in Southport has a decent display of Hornby items too if you are out that way. Sadly The Museum of Liverpool is far more limited in its displays of Hornby products.

Maghull – Sustainable Urban Drainage at Poppy Fields

Here’s my latest photo of the SUD pond between School Lane and the new houses on the presently being built Poppy Fields estate:-

We will see more of these SUD’s appearing as Maghull’s eastern urban extension starts to be built on what is presently agricultural land on the other side of School Lane, where 1,600+ houses and an industrial park are due to constructed:-