The vast Maghull East development (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull
New Government data backs CPRE Green Belt figures – the story is on the CPRE’s web site via the link below:-
Quote from CPRE article – New statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show the largest increase in the amount of Green Belt land released for housing to date
An analysis of the new Government data released today (4 October) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that since 2012 almost 10,000 hectares of Green Belt land have been released from ‘protected’ Green Belt boundaries by local councils. Ten councils have together released more than 5,000 hectares in the past year alone .
Can’t say I’m in any way surprised having spent years trying to stop building on Green Belt and the highest grades of agricultural land in Sefton Borough and now hearing of even more Green Belt development in neighbouring West Lancashire.
Where on earth is the connect between housing, planning, food production and environmental policies here in the UK? And what’s so galling is that even when this precious food growing land is lost we will still not end up with the types of housing that we actually need!
The Maghull East site is probably the most controversial of all of the Green Belt development sites across the whole Borough of Sefton because it is so vast, indeed it is now referred to as an ‘urban extension’ such will be its size.
The land is predominately high grade agricultural land which grows our food so building on it is utter madness to me. However, we environmental campaigners lost the battle to save it and Sefton Council is to have its will to develop the site for housing and business use.
I thought it would be useful to have a photographic record of the site so I took a photo at the height of summer and another one in this autumn. Both shots are from the same location – the M58 motorway junction bridge at Ashworth. I think you will agree they look radically different despite there being less than 2 months between them. Obviously the weather played its part too:-
Click on the photos to enlarge them
The photos are also on my Flickr site at:-
Tonight the contentious planning application for new housing was before Sefton Council’s Planning Committee for the land (in Lydiate) off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road.
Big turn-out of protesting residents at tonight’s Sefton Council Planning Committee meeting in Bootle Town Hall.
Turnbridge Road was the second item on the agenda following another contentious application for the former Peerless Factory site on Dunnings Bridge Road in Netherton. Oddly the Peerless site seemed to be almost a model of what community engagement in the planning process should be whereas Turnbridge sadly looked to be nothing like that.
June Avery addressing the Planning Committee
Local resident June Avery was presenting the case for local people who live close to the Turnbridge Road site in Maghull and Lydiate and she was an excellent advocate for local views and concerns. She was followed by someone speaking on behalf of Wain Homes (the developer who is to build on the site) and he did not, in my view, answer many of the concerns that June had raised in the detail that was required. I thought he was particularly weak on the issue of engagement with local residents, his line being that the site was consulted upon during the development of Sefton Council’s Local Plan and that no further consultation was needed, or words to that effect. His words did not go down well with some members of the Planning Committee who raised issues about his contribution and the implications of what he had said.
This then led to a protracted discussion about whether the Planning Committee was going to defer making a decision on the application for more information or whether it would vote on the matter tonight. The latter won out and a vote was taken. I think it was 7 votes for the application and 5 against and the only change was a condition to try to bring Wain Homes to the table to discuss issues about the site with residents. Whether this will work I am not at all sure.
So the application is now passed and the developer will get on with construction. But what really struck me was that on the same night at the same Planning Committee there were two applications which seemed to be at opposing ends of the spectrum in terms of community engagement. Everyone seemed pleased with the developer of the former Peerless site for the lengths they had gone to in taking residents views on board. Suffice to say that my impression was that few if any of those present tonight thought the same about the Turnbridge Road site.
So a small part of the Maghull/Lydiate Green Belt is now officially lost but there are far bigger sites in the sights of developers and many more acres of Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land at great risk locally.
Yes we will get more housing, but will it meet local needs i.e. social housing, housing for the elderly and housing for those trying to get onto the housing ladder? At the margins maybe but in the main it will almost certainly not. Sacrificing Green Belt and the highest grade of agricultural land is a very big step indeed (and it’s one I opposed) but if we go ahead and do it whilst not even meeting local housing needs then it becomes a huge mistake as we will never get the land that grows our food back.
I arrived late for the January Lydiate Parish Council Neighbourhood Planning meeting but in time to hear a Labour Parish Councillor giving Independent Sefton Councillor Pat O’Hanlon (who represents western Maghull & Lydiate) the benefit of his advice.
Incidentally the Labour Parish Councillor giving the ‘advice’ lost in last May’s Sefton Council elections to the very person he was advising.
The thrust of the advice, as I heard it, was all about why Labour-run Sefton Council had to have a Local Plan and why that plan had ended up meaning that Green Belt and high grade agricultural land would end up being built upon.
But what struck me was not the opinion being given but that it missed a quite crucial point out. The point being that Labour had made it very clear that they were going to defend/protect the Green Belt, indeed they put up posters and Labour councillors were photographed for the press holding up slogans about how they were going to save the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. Here’s one such poster:-
Labour poster displayed in Lydiate – October 2013 – how much must Labour be regretting put these posters up because they voted on Sefton Council to build on the Green Belt!
The reason Labour came unstuck in Maghull/Lydiate and Formby in the 2016 local elections was because they said one thing and then did another in the eyes of the electorate i.e. saying they would protect the Green Belt but then voting to build on it.
Goodness me I saw my own former Party leader throwing away our opposition to Tuition Fees when we had campaigned to oppose them so I know only too well what it feels like and indeed should feel like when the electorate catches up with you. Are Labour yet to learn that lesson?
This is a very serious matter indeed but it rarely gets any coverage in the media. The BBC web site article – accessible via the link above – is therefore worth reading.
By allowing the degrading of the quality of our soil we are in effect taking steps to starve ourselves!
The poor link between environmental and planning policy in the UK is also highlighted as it is the case that land is sometimes deliberately degraded to make it more likely to be developed. Having said that here in Sefton Borough our local Labour rulers (via the Borough’s Local Plan) seem quite happy to make even the highest quality of agricultural land available to be concreted over!
Everyone in Sefton knows that Labour pledged to defend the Green Belt but then voted on Sefton Council to build on it! A real say one thing do another politician’s pledge if ever we heard one.
The part of Sefton Borough that it going to be hit hardest by Labour’s broken pledge is Maghull & Lydiate where huge urban extensions are to be built on high grade agricultural land which is also Green Belt. This is the very land that grows the food that we eat.
This huge site off Poverty Lane in Maghull is just one that Labour-run Sefton Council has voted to build on.
Click on the photo to enlarge it
So what is the Labour pledge now? ‘Protect our community from inappropriate development on greenbelt land’. What on earth does that mean?
Does that mean it was ‘appropriate’ for Labour to vote for Green Belt land to be built on across the Borough on the ‘we say it is appropriate’ basis?
Why did Labour think it ‘appropriate’ for the land to the east of Maghull (1500+ houses and an industrial park) to be built on? What made this site ‘appropriate’?
If I was a potential Labour supporter, which of course I am not, in Maghull & Lydiate I would be thinking that I had been spun too many yarns by the comrades especially about such vital environmental matters locally.