Maghull – Where once there was farmland – Green Lane/South Meade

People who know me will realise how hard I have fought over the years to try to protect the character of the community around Maghull & Lydiate and indeed across wider Sefton Borough from what I see as inappropriate development.

Building on high grade agricultural land has long been an issue with me and it’s why I have opposed much of the land development that has recently been given the green light by Sefton Council.

The other day I drove past the building site off Green Lane/South Meade in Maghull where houses are presently being constructed. When I was a Sefton Councillor I voted against this site being developed. Sadly, I and my then fellow Maghull Councillor Andrew Blackburn were in a minority and permission was granted.

The land had until reasonably recent times been in agricultural use but that was not the only reason I was unhappy to see this particular site being concreted over. What Maghull has been losing over quite a number of years now has been the unique parkland landscape of the former Maghull Homes, now the Parkhaven Trust. This landscape once covered many, many acres over the two sites of the Maghull Homes off Deyes Lane/Damfield Lane and Sefton Lane/Green. I think it’s really sad that so little of it is left and for how much longer will what is left be there?

Yes I know that the Parkhaven Trust does all kinds of essential work (I worked for them myself in the 1980’s and early 1990’s) looking after the elderly and people with disabilities and I also realise that they have been selling off the land to develop that work, but the parkland type landscape has still been lost and two marvelous green lungs in the Maghull community are now much reduced.

Here’s how the Damfield Lane site is now looking as development takes place:-

Maybe it’s called progress but at what cost to the wider environment?

Stop Press – The recent announcement (In the Champion Newspaper) that building on site off Green Lane and adjacent to South Meade is to be extended further is a concern obviously, even though it is said to be for ‘affordable housing’. Of the many definitions of ‘affordable housing’ I wonder which it will be and how ‘affordable’ the houses will be?

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Houses for Parkhaven Trust site off Green Lane

This is the site looking towards the Allotments from Green Lane. It has been used as farm land in the recent past.

This is the site looking towards the Allotments from Green Lane. It has been used as farm land in the recent past.

This story goes back to July of 2013 when Andrew Blackburn and I voted against this site (bounded by Green Lane and South Meade) being developed for housing but Labour’s councillors voted for it to be built upon. That vote was on Sefton’s Planning Committee when we were both Borough Councillors for Park Ward in Maghull. I posted twice on the matter back in July/August 2013 and the links to those postings are below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/07/25/why-i-voted-against-more-building-on-the-parkhaven-trust-site-in-maghull/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/08/22/peat-now-heres-a-thing-i-had-not-heard-of-before-in-relation-to-a-planning-application/

Now it seems that Redrow the house builder is going to take the planning permission forward and start construction of 57 houses.

Frankly my views have not changed in that the unique parkland layout of the former Maghull Homes Estate is being irrevocably compromised and will be lost for ever.

What I also fear is that we will get more 3 and 4 bedroom Houses when what we need are 1 and 2 bedroom properties. Having said that I still would not build on this parkland area of the Town. So if the development goes ahead which it now surely will, following that vote back in July 2013, we could not only lose more unique parkland heritage but also ‘gain’ houses that don’t address local housing need. What a double whammy!

Oh and to answer a query I have heard. The site is not mentioned in Sefton Council’s infamous Local Plan, I assume, as it was given planning permission 3 years ago. If my understanding is correct a new planning application is being submitted for the site but the principle of it being developed was agreed in July of 2013 sadly.

NHS GP Services in Sefton’s East Parishes – It’s been a roller coaster of a journey with few ups and too many downs

The recent talk and publicity in the Aintree & Maghull Champion made me think back to the many disappointments and frustrations we have had in trying to improve the NHS primary care facilities in Sefton’s East Parishes.

Sefton’s eastern parishes cover Melling, Aintree Village, Maghull, Lydiate and part of Sefton Parish and in all my many years as a councillor rarely have there been many positives with regard enhancing local GP/primary care facilities/services.

nhs-logo

The one really big and bright exception was the building and opening of the new GP premises in Oriel Drive, Aintree Village in 2012 after considerable campaigning by Aintree Village Parish Council, The Aintree Park Practice and the then Borough Councillors for Aintree.

July 2012 at the formal opening of the new GP Surgery

July 2012 at the formal opening of the new GP Surgery

But just look at the other miss-steps or missed opportunities:-

Lydiate Village Centre – opened in 2010 – this was originally to include GP facilities but the then Primary Care Trust backed out. Lydiate does not have a GP practice at all.

Meadows Leisure Centre (Maghull) – also opened in 2010 – was also meant to have GP provision within it. Indeed, the idea was for the GP’s to be able to refer appropriate patients directly to the Leisure Centre’s gym for fitness and rehabilitation/recovery purposes. Sadly the then Primary Care Trust backed out of that project too.

Maghull Health Centre was down to be rebuilt some years ago and councillors were told that the money/authority had been obtained for that to be done. That was as I say some years ago but nothing has happened to date.

rsz_maghull_health_centre

What’s more the then Lib Dem Borough Councillors for the 3 East Parishes Wards pressed for and gained a commitment that NHS Walk-In facilities would be provided within a rebuilt Maghull Health Centre, as the nearest one in Litherland is hardly easily accessible. This we were told was given the green light but when it went public health officials said they were not now going to do it!

Melling’s GP surgery was relocated to Kirkby in Knowsley Borough not so long ago, causing great concern to the village residents.

The GP practice on the Parkhaven Trust site in Maghull needs to relocate, so are told, and this is causing all kinds of concerns as to where it will go to. The same GP practice has had its problems in recent times and originally it had been down to be run by a big private company (possibly American) under the last Labour Government’s NHS privatisation plans promoted by Tony Blair and, I think, Andy Burnham. That idea was fought off by local campaigners.

All in all it’s fair to say that folks in the East Parishes communities just want high quality GP services, a locally accessible NHS Walk-In facility and as many medical tests done locally as possible rather than having to get to the very busy Fazakerley Hospital. Not much to ask for and much of it previously possible/promised but then backed out of by NHS officials.

I am sure that the numerous NHS re-organisations by all colours of Government have not helped over the past 20 years or so but the bottom line is little has moved forward and many problems persist with primary care NHS facilities in Sefton’s East Parishes.

Please no more promises, just deliver!

Peat – Now here’s a thing I had not heard of before in relation to a planning application

When Sefton’s Planning Committee recently voted to approve development on the Parkhaven Trust’s land off South Meade and Green Lane in Maghull (my posting and why I voted against the development are in my posting of 25th July) a surprising and in some ways puzzling late report was made to the Committee about the possible consequences of peat being in the sub soil.

The development site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull where peat is now an issue

The development site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull where peat is now an issue

As far as I could ascertain even long-standing members of the Planning Committee had not come across this type of report before. This is what the report says:-

There are significant bands of peat deposits in Sefton and this development is in an area where these deposits may be substantial. Peat produces naturally occurring methane and carbon dioxide and if sufficient amounts of these gases are allowed to collect under or within a newly erected or extended building, there is a potential risk to the development and occupants.

It goes on further but I think you get the drift i.e. developers who are told this need to think about what measures they will need to put in place to protect against the effects of methane gas.

Strangely, I could not find the document that was submitted to the Planning Committee, on Sefton’s web site in connection with this application. Also, when I made further enquires about where the peat deposits are (i.e. show me a map) I was told there was no map and that, in effect, it was down to council officers knowledge of the land in question when individual planning applications are made.

If you hear rumbling in the night it could be methane building up……………………

Why I voted against more building on the Parkhaven Trust site in Maghull

At the Meeting of Sefton’s Planning Committee last night I opposed the building of more housing on this piece of urban green space, off Green Lane and South Meade, because I am really concerned that the parkland aspect of this site is going to be lost forever if plots of it are incrementally built on. The plan was however approved but 3 councillors from Southport supported the view of myself and Cllr. Andrew Blackburn, meaning 5 of us opposed the plan with the rest (including 2 other Maghull councillors) supporting it.

The Parkhaven Trust site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull

The Parkhaven Trust site off Green Lane and South Meade in Maghull

I am not opposed to this great and historic local charity but neither was I prepared to vote for a plan that will reduce the amount of urban green space within this part of Maghull and mean that the site can’t being used as agricultural land ever again.

It’s only months since we had that huge community/political bust-up about the land off Damfield Lane, on the other side of Maghull, and that bust-up was over what had previously been another piece of the Parkhaven Trust’s (previously Maghull Homes) estate. If you recall Labour backed residents opposing the development there and then did a ‘U’ turn and voted the plan through!

Maghull Lib Dems opposed the Damfield Lane development and we remain deeply concerned about the loss of urban green space, just as we are Green Belt. Labour may well be prepared to vote through building on our green spaces and Green Belt but we do not share their vision for Maghull or Sefton Borough.

Maghull Homes – Now Parkhaven Trust – 125 years of social care in Maghull

From the age of 17 to my mid 30’s I worked on a part-time basis at what was then the Maghull Homes which was originally set up as an epileptic colony. My job was assisting the disabled residents to participate in social and sporting activities such as snooker (I was taught to play this by residents of the Maghull Homes), cricket and football on the charity’s Liverpool Road South site.

rsz_photo0212

The second site, located off Deyes Lane, was where a school for children with epilepsy was based and which operated until the mid 1980’s, if I recall correctly. The Liverpool Road South site is substantially intact and still serving the needs of those with disabilities but the Deyes Lane site is very much smaller these days with grand houses covering some of what was attractive parkland that the epileptic residents helped to maintain. Indeed, the redevelopment of a large part of the Deyes Lane site, which also had a number architecturally pleasing buildings, was recently approved in extremely controversial circumstances I am sorry to say. I think it is also fair to say that those who fought the redevelopment will never forgive those local socialist politicians who allowed it to happen in the way that it did. We have indeed lost a significant green lung in the Maghull community.

Anyone living in Maghull when I was growing up (1968 onwards for me as I came to live in Maghull then at the age of 10) will have been used to seeing the residents of the colony out and about on Maghull’s streets going to the shops etc. Of course, being epileptics they had attacks and a group of folk surrounding someone on the floor in Maghull inevitably meant one thing – someone was having an epileptic attack.

You can imagine that this was all new to me as a 10 year old lad and not easy to get your head around but I quickly began to resent the remarks and attitude of some of my fellow school children who would make fun of the residents of ‘The Homes’. I appreciate now that the poor taste remarks were little more than fear of the unknown and a childlike reaction to such but never the less those reactions have never left me.

At some point whilst I was a young teenager my Mum started work at the Maghull Homes organising holidays and social activities so I found out more about the charity, its residents and indeed epilepsy. I got to know many of the residents and in due course enjoyed working with and helping them.

Some of them had been put there many years previously as having an epileptic in your family particularly during Victorian and Edwardian times was an embarrassment; hence the setting up of epileptic colonies such as the one in Maghull. There were others and Langho, up Blackburn way, was another that I became aware of. Indeed, when Langho closed some of its long-term residents came to live in Maghull.

The majority of Maghull Homes residents that I knew throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s have now passed on but I like to think of them as my friends who were both unfortunate to have a condition that was hard to control and which in some cases made their families find them to be an embarrassment. Of course some had other disabilities as well but a more cheery group of folk you would look hard to find.

I know that those residents had a profound effect on me and the way I look at the world and I would not have missed the opportunity to work with them for the world. I lost count of the number of huddles of folk on pavements I came across when driving around Maghull. Of course I stopped, had a look and often put the Homes resident in my car to take them home. On the odd occasion the attack would lead to a serious injury as the epilepsy sufferer hit a hard object as they fell and medical attention would be required.

And my reason for relating this? The Maghull Homes, now a social care charity catering for all kinds of disability called the Parkhaven Trust, is 125 years young in 2013 having ben established in 1888.

These days epilepsy is well controlled by medication and we may all know a person well who has epilepsy without ever being aware of their condition. Indeed, I know two people well who take medication for this condition and they have no connection what so ever with the friends I made at the Maghull Homes many years ago.

http://www.parkhaven.org.uk/