Lydiate – Peter Greener RIP

Campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall trying to save Sefton Borough’s high grade agricultural land from development.

I think I first met Peter Greener in 2011, although it could have been earlier, when we were fighting a planning application that would have breached the Green Belt on the western side of Lydiate. It went all the way to a Planning Inspector’s Inquiry which was held at Bootle Town Hall over a couple of days. Peter, myself, Andrew Blackburn, Robbie Fenton (Andrew, Robbie and I were at the time Sefton Councillors for Park Ward) and a representative of the Sefton Branch of CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) were fighting the local resident’s case and we won that battle.

Peter was a real driving force and he had great environmental credentials.

He went on to join with other environmental campaigners, such as Fragoff, across Sefton Borough to try to defend Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from development. The photo at the head of this posting (click on it to enlarge) shows Peter center stage in a light blue pullover with other protestors outside Maghull Town Hall during a meeting of what was then the Sefton Central Area Committee of Sefton Council.

I covered, on this very blog site, Peter’s efforts to challenge Sefton Council’s emerging Local Plan in March 2015 and here it is:-

Unfortunately, Peter’s health went to decline 2 or 3 years back and he died on 9th May. My condolences to his wife Wendy (a Lydiate in Flower volunteer) and her family at this sad time. We have lost a decent man who put a great deal of effort into campaigning for our local environment.

Sefton’s foggier Local Plan – Another guest posting from Peter Greener

The mist has not cleared and the fog thickens by the day! Lydiate resident and environmental campaigner Peter Greener writes:-

I don’t know if the DCLG [Department for Communities & Local Government] have issued their more detailed stuff yet [for Sefton Borough] but I’d be interested to know how many single households there are for a start and sizes of younger families in greater detail.

For example, the DCLG talk about increased numbers of older people living by themselves. But where these people come from is of interest. And why do they now require housing? If they come from larger houses in Sefton what happens to those houses? Have they been sold or on the market? Does an increase in older people living by themselves mean they need new houses building for them?

There seems to be a lack of precise information coming from our [Sefton’s] planning department and as has been pointed out some of NLP’s [Nathaniel Litchfield & Partners – consultants working for Sefton Council] work appears to ‘fit’ some ‘desired’ outcome.

When FRAGOFF representatives and I sat down with Steve Matthews and Alan Young [Sefton Council Officers] to discuss the Local Plan they agreed that fewer people on the waiting lists for housing were in ‘need’ of housing. But I cant recall seeing this written down!

So as the DCLG have “thrown a spanner in the works”, I think more information should be forthcoming from them. After all, now the Labour controlled [Sefton] Council is saying it’s all the Government’s fault (for the umpteenth time). In his interview with Tom Martin in the Champion Cllr. Maher said the Government’s told Sefton they need to build over 1000 houses per year. I tweeted the Councillor asking which member of the Government told him that. So far, no answer has been forthcoming. I tweeted Tom Martin and asked him had he asked the councillor which member of the Gov had told him that Sefton should up their build rates (no answer from Tom Martin either).

There have been so many twists and turns in the concoction of a Local Plan that I forget where we are at and why we got there and the finger always seems to point back at the DCLG projections, NLP’s interpretation and the Council’s unwillingness to invoke the protection of Green Belt/farmlands offered in the planning regs.

Well Peter’s last paragraph is the killer for me as how on earth can any ordinary member of the public get their heads around Sefton’s Local Plan process? When people like Peter Greener can’t and they have spent many hours, weeks and months trying to do so no wonder the fog is getting thicker and sadly the amount of building on high grade and Green Belt agricultural land in the Borough becomes ever greater!

Sefton’s ‘growing’? population – Another perspective on those odd stats that the Council’s consultants have come up with

I have continued to scratch my head about those new stats that consultants working for Sefton Council have come up with. You know, the stats that recently doubled the dubious original figures for the growth in population and households in the Borough and will lead to acre after acre of high grade agricultural land being concreted over.

Green Belt campaigners, including Peter Greener, outside Maghull Town Hall.

Green Belt campaigners, including Peter Greener, outside Maghull Town Hall.

The more you think about it the odder they are especially that ‘under counting in Liverpool’ carry on that means far more Liverpool folk will supposedly be moving into Sefton in the coming years.

Here are the views of Lydiate environmental campaigner Peter Greener:-

I have a number of reservations around the projections. Considering they are based on info from 2011 Census, for Sefton, they seem on a different planet! There is no evidence of continuity in applying the ‘’new method of calculation’’ for comparison with previous Census years. Just how consistent are they!? Have they been worked back as far as 1971 and each Census year since. The Census is the only reality check on these type of projections and showed up both Leeds and Liverpool’s population’s projections (2010) were totally wrong!

Sefton Borough – Put solar panels on the roof tops of public buildings

Well you don’t need to tell me Peter as Sheila and I put them on our own house roof in 2011 and I was also involved in them being installed on Maghull Town Hall and Lydiate Village Centre with my Lib Dem colleagues who used to run Maghull Town Council & Lydiate Parish Council.

Lydiate resident Peter Greener is now trying to get the powers that be in Sefton Borough to seriously match and improve on what has already happened in Maghull & Lydiate. This is what Peter says:-

Solar panels meter at Lydiate Village Centre r

See the meter reading for Lydiate Village Centre which has solar panels on its roof.

I’ve been making enquiries about putting panels on all of Sefton’s Official Buildings. As you can see the readings are significant and show the gains made from one building. Maghull Town Hall also has solar on its roof.

These are the solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof.

These are the solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof.

I believe this is an extremely important subject that calls for action across party lines.

Given the recent news around wind turbines, fracking and fields of solar panels, I’m sure you will be interested in solar and water panels on roofs. After all Sefton has very little ‘’spare’’ land that is not close to settlements.

I think it is time putting solar on new housing received real attention.

Anyone who says they don’t like the look of panels on roofs should consider the effects of a drilling rig or wind turbine in their neighbourhood!

Sefton Local Plan – An excellent submission from a Lydiate resident

As Lib Dem Planning Spokesperson on Sefton Council I led the opposition to Sefton Council’s Local Plan on the Planning Committee. As a consequence I have been sent many copies of objections to the Plan which is now going on to be reviewed by an independent planning inspector. This is one such objection.

For the attention of the inspector.

I wish to object to the local plan as proposed by Sefton Council. I am basing this objection on several grounds which concern sites I am familiar with.

The loss of Green Belt land on the following sites will lead to the development of urban sprawl :

MN2.27 Land at Turnbridge Road ; MN2.28 Land North of Kenyons , Lydiate ; MN8.1 Lambshear Lane

To support this claim I would refer to paragraphs 83 and 84 and 85 of the NPPF. Para 83 states that ‘once established Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan. At the time, authorities should consider the Green Belt boundaries having regard to their intended permanence in the long term, so that they should be capable of enduring beyond the plan period.’ I’m sure I hardly need to point out that in the case of MN2.28 Turnbridge Road land, a drain could not be considered a durable boundary as required in paragraph 85. And if allowed development of this site would open the whole area to the North and West of the Leeds to Liverpool canal to later development. This area is currently acknowledged as being unattached to an urban area.

And it goes without saying the openness of the countryside would be adversely affected and eroded. Indeed, 2011 the amount of Green Belt for development in Sefton was 2.6%; from there it increased to 3.2% and then crawled to 3.6% before now landing on 4.4% One wonders if Paddy Power could take out a book on it reaching 5% before long.

Country Lanes are not robust boundaries and if the Turnbridge Road proposal was allowed the next robust boundary would be Southport Road, which is an A road to the north several large fields away. A similar situation arises to the east of Lydiate where lack of robust boundaries would lead to a ‘doughnut’ of housing encircling the current village of Lydiate .As the West Lancs border closely follows Lydiate in a rabbits ear shaped boundary the whole village could be developed in future up to the border.

I would also like to object to these proposed developments on the grounds of the quality of farmland in this area, which is described by an agronomist as being noted for its excellence of agricultural production. Once developed this land would be lost to farming. The Uk already has a balance of payments deficit in international food trade. And security of supply has long been claimed as a national goal by governments. The soils here are classed as amongst the Best Most Versatile in the country and hence most valuable.

Given the NPPG advice that ‘unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the ‘very special circumstances ‘justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt’ I hope you will agree with me that this is the case in this instance. I make this request especially as there are brownfield sites (some very large) in urban areas demanding development and regeneration for the sake of residents living in close proximity to eyesores and dangerous derelict works and areas of contaminated sites, now fenced off, from a less caring time. Some of these sites in the local plan are not scheduled for development for a despairingly long time. And it is clear that there will be a Green Belt first situation.

I now would like to open my concerns to other aspects of the local plan.

Should development be allowed on Green Belt land first there is the distinct possibility that the brownfield sites will lay unloved in a rust belt amongst family homes. It could be argued that the housing market in this area is supply led ( Zoopla shows house price are falling now in L31) and if demand dries up the brownfields will not be enhanced. One site was given planning permission around 2004 but the developer let the permission lapse. This brownfield site consists of a number of old works, factories along the Hawthorne Road/ Canal corridor.

There is also an issue with the high number of vacant housing throughout the borough. Which is higher than the government’s aims at 5822 over 4% of housing stock. One wonders if building so many new houses will lead too more vacant housing. When I asked about refurbishment I was told it would cost £90,000 per house. I found this strange given that a year earlier the price was said to be £35,000. There now appears to be large scale demolition of 2 bed housing in the Klondyke estate.

I would also like to draw your attention to both Maghull and Lydiate with regard to education and the Local Plan. There is also a real concern around the potential increase in school requirements. Sefton schooling officials claim (with some uncertainty) that the total average child yield for Sefton schools would be 32 per hundred households. They don’t show where they acquired these stats. The average Child Yield for other authorities in the region would show the following numbers: Average Child Yield for primary school children equals 25 children per 100 households, 16 secondary school pupils per hundred households and 3 for upper school children. So this adds up to 526 extra school places in the primary sector alone resulting from the developments around Maghull and Lydiate. I would suggest that tacking the odd classroom to existing schools may be inadequate. And children from other authorities in Sefton Schools have rights as do their younger siblings to Sefton education services.

Another concern throughout this area of Maghull and Lydiate (Park and Sudell Wards) is the predicted increase in traffic. To suggest that 4,000 extra vehicles would spread evenly through the day is very questionable and seems to defy the times of stress (rush hours) I find the comparison between residential areas and Switch Island also questionable. Switch Island has had millions of pounds and several adjustments to get the feeder roads to the level of today.

The Peel Ports claims of local and regional employment associated with Post Panamax traffic appears at variance and seems to ignore the multipliers associated with B2 and B8 jobs.
The hi-tech container handling equipment to be used at the port (Liverpool 2) calls for highly qualified operators and control room staff. The need for low skilled workers will not be met by the addition of two large berths. The fact that the Irish Sea is outside any ECA and numbers of ship movements (which in some years pass the criteria) for monitoring for air pollution within 1 kilometre of the docks, the council seem only to agree to measure up to 250 metres.

The Access to Port of Liverpool Report dated Nov 2011 points to the large number of HGVs using Dunnings Bridge Road. The Entry to the Port report shows an average of about 350 HGVs enter or leave the port every hour. And this is predicted to rise to 800 by 2030 or 750 if investment in freight infrastructure happens. I understand that the majority of HGVs use Dunnnings Bridge Road. Given the recent criticism of diesel vehicles and pollution one can only wonder of the effects on a Ward (Linacre). with very high levels of early death rates.

Switch Island must be on course to become one of the ‘hottest’ roundabouts in the country!
One wonders at the benefits that the residents of Bootle will get from the SuperPort, so loved by certain councillors! I hope the only thing in it for residents will not be a lungful of exhaust emissions from passing HGVs as operators move their boxes to their factories.

There is also a wide variety of wildlife supported by the fields around Lydiate.
To the west fields support pink footed geese in the season and there are bats roosting near Bells Lane ( reported to Sefton ecology ) there are of course many other examples of habitats and wild life which would need to be taken into consideration.s present.

Should the opportunity arise I would like to speak at the hearing.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Yours Faithfully,

P J Greener.

Green Belt – Lydiate Resident Group – Who are they?

A close inspection of the responses to the last round of consultation, in respect of Sefton Council’s Local Plan proposals, by a Lydiate resident threw up this question.

You see there, sat in the Sefton Council on-line report, is a submission from this Group but no one seems to know who they are. The Lydiate World Web Site is looking for an answer and so are a number of local environmental campaigners who are fighting Labour-run Sefton Council’s plans to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land around Maghull & Lydiate.

I have read their submission which clearly indicates that this group supports building on 3 sites within Sefton’s present Green Belt. Indeed, they say they support building on sites AS12 to AS14, whilst previously in their submission saying ‘we are intrinsically opposed to any development of the Greenbelt’.

The Lib Dem Sefton Council Opposition Group said this of the sites Lydiate Resident Group is promoting for development:-

* Sites AS12/AS14 – These two huge sites to the west and east of Lydiate/Maghull fall within a similar category to AS17 in that they are both high grade agricultural land that is presently being farmed. To turn them over to housing is unthinkable in environmental sustainability terms. AS14 is right next to SR4.48 (Tyson’s Triangle) which Sefton Council has already designated as a ‘reserve’ site for development in its own draft Local Plan. Bearing in mind that a further and much larger ‘reserve’ site (SR4.47) is the other side of SR4.48 this would have the effect of vastly increasing the size of Lydiate’s population. Just developing the two reserve sites will increase Lydiate’s size by 35%! What’s more AS14 will develop Lydiate right up to the West Lancashire (Aughton) boundary and we are aware that West Lancs Council already have concerns about the two ‘reserve’ sites for this very reason. Taking the 3 sites together Lydiate would be subject to an urban extension of considerable proportions.

On the basis that the Lydiate community and Lydiate Parish Council has been up in arms over the proposals of Sefton Council and those of local land owners/developers to build on Green Belt land why would Lydiate Resident Group (whomever they may be) suggest building on Green Belt?

It’s time to surface please Lydiate Resident Group.