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:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/03/29/sefton-local-plan-an-excellent-submission-from-a-lydiate-resident/

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.

Building on Green Belt does not provided much at all in terms of affordable housing

Well I’ve been singing that tune for a very long time now, with specific reference to the encroachment onto the Green Belt in Sefton Borough. The BBC has the story on its web site – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45079648

My major objection to the vast amount of Green Belt being lost to housing in Sefton Borough, especially with regard to the Maghull & Lydiate area, was of course that the land is predominately high grade arable land that grows the food we eat. To sacrifice such land when only around 2% of England is made up of this level of land quality is utter madness to me.

But of course that very same land is also in Sefton’s Green Belt, so Maghull’s vast urban extension (see lead photo) which is down to be built to the east of the Town in due course means that both high quality food growing land and Green Belt will be lost for ever.

The large red area is the ‘Maghull East’ urban extension to the Town. The M58 Junction 1 is in grey – top right with Prescot Road running north to south on the far right of the map.

Of course I know that we have a housing crisis and I realise that Governments, Councils and many individuals are happy to sacrifice food growing high grade agricultural land to get what they see as much needed housing. But hang on a minute where is the housing crisis in reality? It’s mainly with the affordable housing and the social rented sector and it’s because of the lack of such housing that huge pressure is put on the rest of the housing market.

We are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

So what do we need? We need really affordable housing and social rented housing because the roots of our housing crisis are well planted within the right to buy legislation of the 1980’s. That the money raised from the sale of what were council houses was not used to build more social housing has substantially created the problems we are now living with. On that basis much of the house building required is affordable and social housing but it’s not! it’s more 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed houses for sale and we are kicking our precious food growing land and Green Belt into touch to gain the very sort of housing that we are not crying out for!

Wrong Houses being being built in the wrong places? CPRE has hit a very important nail on the head here

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4675-the-wrong-homes-in-the-wrong-places?utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=campaigns-update-oct-2017-nonmembers&utm_content=Campaigns+Update+2017+Oct+-+non+members

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has the story on its web site – see link above

I have long thought that here in Sefton Borough we are not addressing local housing needs despite Sefton Council allocating acre after acre of the highest grades of agricultural land for more new housing.

My focus has not only been on protecting high grade agricultural land from development (because it grows the food that we eat!) but also, where we do build houses, they really do need to meet local need. Like many folk I see building more 3 and 4 bedroom houses as being a part of the problem not a solution to the UK housing shortage.

No the real housing need is affordable housing, social housing for rent and housing suitable for our aging population i.e. more single level accessible housing.

The CPRE stance in many way mirrors my own concerns although they seem to have missed out housing for the elderly, which must be a national housing matter not just one related to Sefton Borough. Build housing that the elderly want to move into and it will free up family housing; it’s not rocket science!

I’ve had my issues with CPRE in the past in that I thought they were too laid back with regard to house building on prime agricultural land and Green Belt in Sefton. I also questioned their political leanings when they attended a meeting in Crosby that was not properly party politically balanced. But I think they are on the right track here with regard to their Wrong homes, Wrong Place campaign.

Trouble is governments of all colours have been making a mess of housing policy for generations now.

And only very recently a Conservative Social Care minister jumped back into the so called ‘dementia tax’ solution so favoured by the Tories at the last election and which all but sunk them in June 2017.

It seems the Tories are still arguing that homes are not assets for parents to pass on to their children. That’ll go down well with the voters – NOT!

My point here is that the Tories are still on the wrong path as they remain blind to the need for single level housing that is truly accessible. They don’t seem to understand that older people would move house if there was somewhere they could move to as they get older, at a reasonable cost. As there is not enough such housing many don’t or can’t move out of 3 and 4 bedroom houses because they can’t afford to.

Thanks to Roy Connell for his contribution to this posting

Green Belt building – Cameron said he would protect it and Sefton Labour too but it’s going to be built on!

Readers will probably recall that I have long fought the propsals of Sefton Council to build on our Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won then, Labour waved the white fag this time around.

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won then, Labour waved the white fag this time around.

Indeed my first campaign to stop planners building on Sefton’s Green Belt was in 1998 – a campaign we won by the way. It’s ironic therefore only to have the very same piece of land we were trying to protect from development, to the east of Maghull, released for building on by our Labour-run Council some 18 years later!

Labour's massive urban extension to Maghull. The rust coloured area was saved from development in 1998 but Labour have voted to build on it now on Sefton Council.

Labour’s massive urban extension to Maghull. The rust coloured area was saved from development in 1998 but Labour have voted to build on it now on Sefton Council.

The same site east of Maghull with crops growing on it on 24th April 2016. Building on it is madness.

The same site east of Maghull with crops growing on it on 24th April 2016. Building on it is madness.

But this trend of developing Green Belt sites seems to be gathering pace despite David Cameron saying the Green Belt is safe with him, or words to that effect. Our local Labour Party also said they would defend it only for their Sefton Councillors to vote to build on it!

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) recently said this:-

Over 219,000 houses are planned for England’s Green Belt, 60,000 more than in August 2013 when CPRE last made a count.

Having said that I personally found the Sefton Branch of CPRE to be a little slow out of the blocks when it came to standing up to Sefton Labour’s building plans.

So the Green Belt is not safe, our high grade agricultural land is to be built upon and Labour Sefton Councillors who said they would defend it then voted to build on it.

Is there any wonder why folks say politicians can’t be trusted.

Click on the photos/press cutting to enlarge them.

Green belt “under siege”

A study by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that the number of homes planned for the country’s green belt has increased 38% in less than two years. Nearly 220,000 houses are planned for green belt land – up 61,000 on CPRE’s last count in August 2013.

In its analysis of nine English regions, the CPRE paper shows that councillors and planning inspectors have signed off major releases of Green Belt land over the past 19 months.

This is the huge area of agricultural land that Sefton Council intends to put under concrete to the east of Maghull.

This is the huge area of agricultural land that Sefton Council intends to put under concrete to the east of Maghull.

Readers will know that as an environmental campaigner I have mixed views about CPRE – I have often said that its Sefton Branch disappointed me with it approach to this crucial ‘green’ issue. Frankly, I think they failed to put Labour-led Sefton Council under pressure during its Local Plan process which will lead to large areas of Green Belt and high grade agricultural land being put under concrete in the Borough.

But never the less this information from CPRE nationally certainly hits the spot and it makes you wonder what on earth we are doing to precious high grade agricultural land and why!

With thanks to LGiU for the lead to this article

Campaign to identify brownfield sites launched

The Campaign to Protect Rural England [CPRE] has launched an initiative to identify thousands of derelict sites suitable for new homes in a bid to help solve Britain’s housing crisis without building on the countryside. The campaign, called Waste of Space, is hoping to tap the local knowledge of people across the country about disused buildings and former industrial sites. The CPRE is asking people to nominate sites by tweeting or emailing photographs, which it will compile and publish in a national database. The information will be used to put pressure on the government to increase the incentives for developers to target brownfield sites instead of the countryside.

Frankly this is a great initiative and I say that despite having reservations about the Sefton Branch of CPRE which I feel has not been robust enough locally in defending Green Belt and high grade agricultural land from potential development. In my view, as previously expressed on this site, they are too easily giving in to Green Belt loss so their national organisation launching this initiative is very welcome indeed.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this article.