Below is the submission to Sefton Council from Lydiate Parish Council in response to the second phase of public consultation over the Local Plan for Sefton. The two ‘attached documents’ mentioned in the text are displayed after the main submission. With apologies for the length of this important document.
Firstly, for context we attach the submission that we made in 2011 in response to the first round of public consultation.
We now know that two potential development sites in Lydiate Parish are the ones that Sefton Council refers to as ‘Reserved Sites’ i.e. they will come on line if there are problems delivering the Local Plan (Option 2) house building target within the sites identified for development. However, even if there are no problems with those sites our understanding is that the Lydiate sites will only remain protected from development for 5 years.
On the basis that the ‘reserved sites’ within Lydiate Parish are all but development sites the Parish Council, for the purposes of this submission, is treating them as being under the same threat as the main local sites in neighbouring Maghull.
Our fundamental view and stance has not changed since we put together our first submission in that our great concerns are:-
• The character of our semi-rural community will be significantly and negatively affected if the two identified reserved sites are developed. Indeed, the proposals in Option 2 could see Lydiate grow by a third, changing the character of the community completely. Our understanding is that national recommendations state that significant growth of this sort should be avoided.
• The land, on both sites, is high grade agricultural land so it remains, in our view, environmental nonsense to plan to build on it because future generations will require it to grow food upon.
Since we made our first submission a housing developer has, as the Planning Dept. will know, broken cover and published some first draft proposals with regard to the largest of the two reserved sites in Lydiate Parish. This led to members of Lydiate Parish Council engaging with residents living close to the site and indeed in the wider community in the early part of 2013.
The result of this engagement is that a petition signed by hundreds of people opposing the proposed development of land bounded by Lambshear Lane, Sandy Lane, Moss Lane and Liverpool Road has been collected. The petition is attached.
It should also be noted that Lydiate Parish Council has resolved not to sell any of the land in its ownership to facilitate housing developments that may be brought forward. I attach a copy of the appropriate Parish Council minute to this end.
A further issue for the Parish Council is our concern about the robustness of the figures being used in the draft Local Plan for Sefton’s population in future years. Like many we remain sceptical of figures being put forward by consultants NLP who are working for Sefton Council. If we are to believe those figures the Borough’s population, which has been falling year on year for a long time, is about to go into reverse and start to climb again. This in turn means that the ‘need’ for housing goes up putting more and more pressure on our precious Green Belt.
We appreciate that the 510 figure for the number of houses required to be built in the Borough per year (under your preferred Option 2) is almost exactly the same as the 500 figure previously imposed on the Borough by the previous Government’s now defunct Regional Spatial Strategy. However, why does a completely new approach to assessing housing need in Sefton, using different statistics, come up with almost exactly same answer?
Population growth or otherwise, taken with the fact that we tend to live in small family units and are living longer, is clearly the key factor in assessing housing need so getting the population predictions right is vital.
At the so called ‘Stakeholders’ meeting last May in Bootle Town Hall your consultants, NLP, clearly stated that Sefton’s population was going to go into reverse and start growing, instead of declining, and they were equally clear in saying that this population increase would be down to inward migration. When questioned the consultants said that inward migration was made up of people moving into the Borough from other parts of the UK, people returning to Sefton who had previously moved away and migrants new to the UK.
We think it fair to say that the audience at that event was very far from convinced about the robustness of the information presented to them that day on population growth. Since then, despite people questioning that robustness and which set of population figures to use in the calculations, there has been no satisfactory clarification of this matter.
Lydiate Parish Council therefore remains opposed to Sefton Council’s preferred Option 2 as we are:-
• Far from being convinced that the population figures, which it is built upon. are robust.
• Opposed to development of high grade agricultural land.
• Concerned that the scale of the proposed developments will negatively impact on the semi-rural nature of our community.
• Appendix 1 – Copy of LPC’s 2011 Core Strategy submission
• Appendix 2 – Copy of Lydiate residents views about Lydiate sites as expressed to Sefton Council Officers at Lydiate Village Centre 24th July 2013
Lydiate Parish Council’s submission to Sefton Council’s Core Strategy consultation – July 2011
Lydiate Parish Council had the pleasure of hosting one of the Borough Council’s public consultation events regarding the Core Strategy on 13th June at its new Village Centre and around 300 local residents attended the event to speak with Planning Officers, Parish Councillors and Park Ward Borough Councillors.
The message that we picked up very clearly at this event and also via other discussions with Lydiate residents has been one of ‘please don’t take forward proposals to develop our Green Belt’. Running alongside this message was a similar point but related to the fact that virtually all of the Green Belt surrounding Lydiate Parish is designated as either Grade 1 Agricultural Land. Lydiate residents have clearly told us that they want this high grade agricultural land to remain in that use especially as environmental considerations in the coming years will mean that more food will need to grown locally. This point is made in the context of there being so little Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land available across England therefore building on what is presently undeveloped land in those two categories is felt to be an environmentally unsustainable way forward.
Once it is developed it is gone for good
The Parish Council accepts that not all the local green belt land is presently used for the growing of food but it considers that the land should be preserved for that very purpose for future generations as once it is developed it is, in effect, gone for good.
In recent times there has been a proposal to build a canal marina in Lydiate (off Bells Lane) and the Parish Council opposed the planning application very much because of the perceived negative effect on the Green Belt and available agricultural land. Whilst the Parish Council is supportive of the principle of a canal marina locally in the East Parishes part of the Borough the overriding imperative of protecting the Green Belt and agricultural land that could be brought back into use in the future meant that the Parish Council had to recommend refusal of the application to Sefton’s Planning Committee, who came to the same conclusion. We appreciate that at the time of writing this submission the applicant was in the process of appealing against the refusal of planning permission with the hearing in late July.
Consultation process concerns
Turning to the consultation process itself, it is fair to say that the Parish Council was concerned prior to the Lydiate consultation event that the importance of what the event was about had not been satisfactorily communicated to Lydiate residents, especially those living close to sites that may be under potential threat of future development for housing in the Parish. We asked Park Ward Borough Councillor Tony Robertson to take this concern up with Sefton Planning Dept. and were pleased to note that the Borough Council did try to deliver a letter to houses close to potential development sites prior to the event, although we did hear of concerns that the coverage was not complete. However, the fact that around 300 residents came to the event on 13th June meant that the profile of the consultation process had been raised to some degree with local people. We remain concerned however that the Borough Council did not engage with local residents well throughout this process and therefore the planned events and general awareness amongst residents was not sufficient for such a far reaching and significant consultation.
Retaining the ‘Village’ feel of Lydiate
Fundamentally, Lydiate residents want the nature of Lydiate Parish, with its ‘village’ atmosphere to remain very much as it is and they fear that allowing any encroachment into Green Belt land will be the thin end of the wedge.
Agricultural land not treated with sufficient importance
We are also concerned that the Core Strategy processes have not put enough emphasis on the need for sustainable development, ‘green’ issues and the vital nature of local food production. Whilst we appreciate that towards the end of this round of consultation the importance of Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land was being highlighted we feel that this was a matter almost forced onto the agenda by campaigners rather than it being seen as a fundamental issue by the Borough Council Planning Dept. at the start of the process. We accept that this may well be a failing of national planning guidance given to Councils by Government in recent years but none the less we are disappointed that environmental considerations as important as the land on which we grown our food were not seen as hugely important by Sefton Planning Dept. from the start of the Core Strategy process. When the fact that such a small % of land in England is listed as either Grade 1 or 2 Agricultural Land is considered and that virtually all the undeveloped land surrounding Lydiate is deemed to be Grade 1 then this is a very significant issue not an afterthought.
Residents and Parish Council unconvinced about the housing need locally
We remain unconvinced by the arguments put forward that Lydiate (and the East Parishes part of the Borough) needs more housing especially as we are presently suffering the consequences of a deep recession from which we will emerge with differing priorities to when we entered it. On that basis we think it is premature to be making plans to provide extra housing locally when the need for it is, in our view, unproved and highly speculative. Not only that, demand for housing will follow economic growth and where available jobs are created. Sacrificing high grade agricultural land in any circumstances seems to be an extremely negative thing to do but to even consider it when the need to do so is in no way proved is poor planning indeed in the view of the Parish Council.
Should there be a need for additional housing in the East Parishes, which as we say we are yet to be unconvinced about, then we are aware that Ashworth Hospital is marketing its land that straddles the border between the Civil Parishes of Maghull and Melling. We are also aware that the land previously designated for a prison (Ashworth South), which is adjacent to aforementioned site, could also be made available for housing. Should either or both of these sites become housing then the need for the development of previously undeveloped land elsewhere across the East Parishes communities seems to us to be even less of a requirement in forthcoming years.
Finally we are aware that Lydiate Parish residents have been campaigning to oppose development locally and that petitions have been submitted to the Parish Council and Sefton Council making the views of Lydiate residents very clear. We are happy to endorse those petitions.
On the evidence we have seen and heard the position of Lydiate Parish Council is that we have not been provided with any convincing evidence that encroachment into the Green Belt and consequently onto Grade 1 and 2 Agricultural Land is warranted or indeed desirable and on that basis our clear view is one of rejecting proposals that place any threat to the Green Belt land surrounding the Lydiate community.
This response to Sefton Council’s Core Strategy was agreed by Lydiate Parish Council at its meeting held on Tuesday 26th July 2011
These notes were prepared by Sefton Council Planning Dept. following the event held at Lydiate Village Centre on 24th July 2013 – References to sites outside of Lydiate Parish are not included in this version.
Note of Lydiate Event
Numbers who attended: 49
Numbers who booked but didn’t attend: 9
• Traffic on Northway and around Maghull/Lydiate generally.
• The infrastructure is poor. Often poor connection to sewers etc.
• Many people are doubtful that development will bring forward the required infrastructure improvements.
• Concerns over surface water flooding.
• Many people questioned whether 510 homes per year are really required.
• The amount of housing is totally out of proportion to Lydiate and Maghull. The area is taking a much bigger hit than anywhere else in Sefton.
• Will have an adverse affect on the character of the village.
• Affordable housing either not appropriate or not truly affordable.
• Scepticism that development would be of a high standard.
• General concern that Lydiate has already lost some of its village feel and development of housing on this scale will turn it into just another urban settlement.
Site off Lambshear Lane
• Flooding/drainage running off the site onto the roads and into neighbouring properties.
• The land is high quality agricultural land, farmed every year and shouldn’t be lost. This point was often linked to local food production and to national food security.
• Moss Lane is not suitable for a large amount of traffic and has limited footways. More development will be dangerous for both traffic and pedestrians due to increased vehicle movements.
• Real pressure on the local schools for places as they are already full.
• Questions on how the site will be accessed. Whichever combination of solutions are made, there will be congestion and a danger to residents and particularly children at peak times.
• Far too many homes.
• Fewer homes and perhaps ones suitable for elderly people or self –build.
• Scepticism that homes will be of a high quality.
• Existing lack of public transport will push people onto using cars.
• The scale of development will be harmful to the character of the village.
• Not suited to large scale housing development. Concerns that development of this site will start to merge with Aughton.
• Impact on traffic on Northway. Already clogged at peak times.
• Concern about how access will be made and the impact upon the safety of residents and children.
• The land is farmed and is high quality agricultural land.
• Far too much development for Lydiate. Will result in an adverse impact upon the character of the area and the infrastructure.
• Lots of questions about what a “reserve site” means and whether they are likely to be developed.
• Many residents would support a redevelopment of Maghull town centre.
• General opposition to developing on the Green Belt as a principle.
• A number of people commented that the format of the sessions was very helpful in gaining an understanding of the process.
• Others felt that they would have preferred a drop-in type session.
• Comments that the wraparound on the Champion Newspaper was very helpful and informative.
• Some confusion from an article in a local paper that didn’t mention the event.
• A number of people commented that neighbours/friends didn’t want to attend because they felt that the development was likely to go ahead anyway or they already knew about the process.
• Some people felt that the sessions weren’t well publicised.
• A suggestion that the Local Planning Team might want to go out on site and talk through any proposals with residents.