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!

Sefton Borough – Building on Green Belt and the land that grows our food

I light of Labour supporters continuing to blame everyone else for Labour-run Sefton Council voting to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land across the Borough, here’s my recent letter to the Champion newspaper:-

Dear Sir,

Interesting how Labour supporters and councillors still try to defend their Sefton Councillors voting to build on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land around Maghull & Lydiate and indeed in other places across Sefton Borough. Their line of defence seems to be ‘the government made us vote for it’ or words to that effect.

Well when I was a Sefton Councillor representing Maghull & Lydiate until 2015 I did not feel in any way compelled to vote for building on Green Belt and the land that grows our food, indeed I kept voting against it! Had I won my seat again in 2015 I would have continued to oppose it.

Sefton Council allocated the sites that are down for development, no one else. My advice to Labour supporters is stop blaming others and accept responsibility for what Labour-run Sefton Council decided to do.

Yours sincerely

Tony Robertson

The War against Labour-run Sefton Council’s Green Belt busting Local Plan has been lost but there were many local battles where Labour was bloodied.

This is what a recent letter said to those who had taken part in the Sefton Council Local Plan process:-

Dear Sir or Madam

Examination of the Local Plan for Sefton – Receipt of Inspector’s Report

The Council has received the Inspector’s Report into the examination of the Local Plan for Sefton. This is has now been published by the Council and is available at the following locations:

Online at www.sefton.gov.uk/localplan
At each of Sefton’s libraries
At the Planning Offices at Magdalen House, Bootle

Following receipt of the Inspector’s Report the Council now intends to adopt the Local Plan at its meeting of full Council on Thursday 20th April 2017 [6.30pm at Southport Town Hall].

The Council will notify people when the Local Plan is adopted. Following adoption the Local Plan will be used in the determination of planning applications in the borough

Kind Regards

Local Plan Team

In many ways it says so little after so many pitched battles between environmental and community campaigners on one side and Sefton Council, Sefton Labour, property owners and developers on the other. It was a long war and the environmental campaigners lost, although they gave Sefton Labour a number of bloody noses along the way.

I was one of the environmental campaigners and yes I am still angry. Angry because much of the land that has been taken out of Green Belt protection around the Borough is amongst the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. To build anything on the land that grows our food is utter madness to me.

But we all remember the heady days of the start of the Local plan process when both Labour and the Lib Dems in Sefton pledged to defend the Green Belt. The Lib Dems did that but Labour, who by then had a majority on the Council, bailed out and started to vote for building on the Green Belt.

The bloody nose was that they lost 4 seats on the Council because of their say one thing, do another approach to this matter. But sadly despite such losses Labour have got their way and what was previously Green Belt land in some parts of the Borough will be designated for building on following the final vote on 20th April.

And yes I know that housing is required but no I am not at all sure that the kind of housing we need will actually get built even though we are chucking away for ever the highest grade of agricultural land. Will there be accessible homes for the elderly, will there be starter homes for young people to get on the housing ladder, will there be social housing for rent?

What do I fear? That the majority of new homes will be 3 and 4 bedroomed properties for the well off which will price out those who need housing.

Sad, yes you bet I am but you know what we have learned is that if there were any ‘green’ credentials locally within the Labour Party there certainly aren’t any more.

Labour – Now then Jeremy can you be clear? – Sadly it seems not

www.indy100.com/article/jeremy-corbyn-press-assocation-interview-scottish-independence-referendum-7629241?utm_source=indy&utm_medium=top5&utm_campaign=i100

The link above to the Independent web site is amusing but it also hits fair and square at Labour’s weakness these days – their inability to be clear about things. This is just another example when they have also been all over the place about Brexit amongst other things.

On Brexit their MP’s and Lords were whipped to back Teresa May’s Government yet Jeremy then pops up to say he backs campaigns to ensure EU citizens get the right to stay in the UK after we have left it. But hang on a minute Labour MP’s and Lords had just voted to back the Governments position i.e. not to guarantee such rights in Parliament!

Of course locally here in Sefton we had Labour pledging to save the Green Belt from development whilst in the Council Chamber of Sefton they voted to release Green Belt land for development.

Saying one thing and then backing the opposite seems to be what Labour is all about these days. They may well be incapable of being a Government but they are also seemingly incapable of being an effective opposition either.

With thanks to Jen for the lead to this posting

Lydiate Green Belt – Tree Felling back in August – An update

I covered what I understood to the unlicensed felling of trees off and to the north of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road back in August when the felling took place. The site concerned is also adjacent to the Leeds Liverpool Canal I would add.

Land clearance machinery at work on the Lydiate site disgracefully released from the Green Belt by Sefton Council's nearly complete Local Plan.

Land clearance machinery at work on the Lydiate site disgracefully released from the Green Belt by Sefton Council’s nearly complete Local Plan.

In fact the whole site is with Lydiate as Maghull Brook, which is the Maghull – Lydiate boundary, runs right at the end of Turnbridge Road.

My last posting can be accessed via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/08/19/lydiate-green-belt-turnbidge-road-site-a-further-update/

As some weeks have passed since the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Officer visited the site (whom I am told confirmed that the felling was unlicensed) I thought it about time that the Commission’s tree was shaken so to speak. So I asked the Clerk of Lydiate Parish Council to contact them to see what the end result of their investigations is actually going to be. This is what we have found out:-

I understand that the Forestry Commission’s National Office have said that a restocking notice [an order to replant trees] has been placed on the land.

BUT the FC go on to comment on the fact that this piece of land has been identified as development land in the local plan [That’s Sefton Council’s Local Plan] and they are anticipating a planning application may be made for the site. They point out that any decision Sefton’s planners make will overturn the FC restocking notice. On that basis it may well be that the FC tries to work with the local authority and potential planning applicant to get sufficient numbers of trees included in the development.

I suspected that the the end result of the felling and FC investigations would be some form of compromise along these lines. However, considering that Sefton Council did nothing when the trees came down and it was local residents who brought in the FC then we can only hope that some good comes from this sad course of events.

Of course, if Sefton Council had not designated the land for building then the trees would not have been felled at all I assume!

Building on Green Belt – The Echo story is about Knowsley but it could just as easily be about Sefton Council

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/politician-already-forgotten-voted-controversial-11455841

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

As an environmental campaigner I despair at the approach of many Labour politicians to green issues like this. Frankly, and quite surprisingly, I have come across politicians on the right of local politics who have better green credentials than some Labour members!

Claiming to support green/environmental issues then voting to trash them is beyond the pale in my book.