Here is our submission regarding the ‘additional sites’ as they affect the Civil Parish of Maghull. Informed readers may wonder about the first paragraph of our submission as an article on this very blog site from last Saturday indicated that Maghull Town Council was indeed trying to cobble together a submission on the very last day of the consultation (8th August). Whether anything was sent in by the Town Council your guess is as good as mine but this submission was was sent off on the 6th August whilst the Labour-run Town Council was seemingly asleep on the job you might say!
I will soon publish the submission of the Lib Dem opposition councillors on Sefton Council.
Maghull Town Council Liberal Democrat Group of Councillors
Submission to Sefton Council’s ‘Additional Sites’ Consultation – August 2014
We make this submission as an opposition group on the Town Council as the Council itself has, at least to our knowledge, not discussed the matter or indeed made any comments. This reflects Maghull Council’s reluctance to make a detailed submission in previous rounds of consultation on Sefton’s Local Plan.
For completeness our view on the already ‘approved’ sites for development in Green Belt and on high grade agricultural land (sites SR4.49 & SR4.27) in Maghull remains that they should not be developed because of the principles we detail below.
These are the principles which guide our response to the Local Plan in general and, in this case, the ‘additional sites’ consultation:-
Our starting point is the loss of ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land
The Green Belt surrounding Maghull is almost totally comprised of high grade agricultural land often referred to as ‘best and most versatile’.
Our clear view is that compromising high grade agricultural land is a hugely negative step backwards and that it is environmentally unsustainable.
An Urban Extension
The potential size increase of Maghull will be nearly 25% and that’s simply based on Sefton Council’s draft Local Plan proposals (particularly site SR4.27) and not taking account of the ‘additional’ sites which land owners and developers wish to see added to this. This is, in our view, an urban extension not simply letting a little Green Belt be concreted over.
Whilst the draft Local Plan raises issues such as global warming, climate change and sustainable development it is far from being ambitious in this crucial area of environmental sustainability. Sefton’s Local Plan and indeed those of our neighbouring Councils need to major on energy conservation and the highest possible energy-saving/low carbon targets for all new developments. District heating is being embraced in one area of Kew in Southport but this can only be the start. Biomass boilers on a communal basis are another way forward that must be grasped.
Whilst doing this Sefton Council should be seeking effective ways to improve, as far as possible, the current stock of commercial and domestic buildings with regard to energy usage.
Shale Gas extraction has to be a major issue for Sefton as exploration work is already happening in neighbouring West Lancashire and the license under which that is taking place also covers parts of our Borough. It is almost certain that the UK will need to exploit this source of fuel within the next few years yet the Local Plan is all but silent on the matter. As the plan is meant to cover the next 15 to 20 years for it to virtually ignore this issue is far from being a sound planning process.
Flooding – Maghull is low lying and prone to flooding. Houses in Sefton Lane and in Fouracres have recently been flooded when Dovers Brook over-topped in September 2012. We would point out that Additional site AS15 is on land immediately adjacent to Fouracres.
We fear that planning for future school requirements is not a robust part of the Local Plan and that this needs to be addressed, especially if the Council is determined to press ahead with major housing developments in and around Maghull. A sit and wait to see what happens approach is irresponsible where significant developments are to take place, especially when half of the Borough is already very close to experiencing stresses with regard to primary school places.
It also has to be held in mind that schools in Maghull are popular for parents from West Lancs, Knowsley and Liverpool to send their children to, so housing developments in those neighbouring council areas will have an impact on the demand for places within Maghull.
We have concerns about the impact of major housing developments in the Maghull (and indeed in surrounding council areas) as they will have an impact on the capacity of our local NHS facilities and hospitals. The Local Plan needs to addresses the problems that will occur with extra pressure on hospitals, GP surgeries and NHS dentists. These health aspects have to be a major part of all future major planning applications as accessibility to and the capacity of NHS facilities to cope are big issues
These general principles are our over riding concerns and they lead us to make the following comments on the major ‘additional sites’ as they affect the Civil Parish of Maghull.
Site AS12 To the west of South Meade, West Meade, Green Lane, Rigby Road & Turnbridge Road, Maghull – This huge site to the west of Maghull is high grade agricultural land and Green Belt that is presently being farmed.
To turn it over to housing is unthinkable in environmental sustainability terms.
AS12 is vast stretching from behind and to the west of South Meade all the way to the Lydiate Civil Parish boundary and on past it to Lydiate’s Bells Lane. If approved it will, like the already provisionally approved site SR4.27 to the east of Maghull, form another massive urban extension.
We fear that the consequence of approval of AS12 will be that the former track bed of the Cheshire Lines Railway will, by default, become the boundary of housing to the west of Maghull and the semi-rural nature of the community in that part of the Town will be lost for good.
Further Green Belt encroachments would sadly be inevitable so development of this site is simply unacceptable in our view.
Site AS15 – Behind The Crescent & Fouracres, Maghull – As mentioned above this site is prone to flooding as the flood events of September 2010 demonstrated with many homes in Fouracres, Maghull being under water. These flooded properties are adjacent to this site and risk being flooded again. Our understanding is that this site is rich in wildlife and there have been previous proposals to turn it into a nature reserve, which seems a far more sensible use for the land.
Our view remains that these two sites are inappropriate for development because they are both in Green Belt, AS12 is being farmed and AS15 is prone to flooding.
Cllrs. Tony Robertson, Andrew Blackburn, Bruce Hubbard, Jen Robertson & Jane Day.
6th August 2014