Maghull/Lydiate – My letter to the Champion newspaper in respect of the Turnbridge Road site

The letter below is in response to the article on page 9 of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper on 24th May where Labour councillors complain about a developer when their party on Sefton Council voted for the site to be developed via the Sefton Local Plan!

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That the developer of the Turnbridge Road site in Lydiate (which will be accessed from Maghull) is not engaging with locals is indeed an outrage. I wrote a detailed objection regarding this development to Sefton Council as part of the planning process. I also opposed the Sefton Local Plan which designated this site for development.

But just hang on a minute the councillors protesting about this in the Maghull Champion article belong to a political party – Labour – which voted for that site (amongst many others across the Borough) to be developed! Do I hear the sound of stable doors being slammed shut after the horse was allowed to trot out?

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson
Lydiate Parish Councillor

Lydiate – Land North of Turnbridge Road – Our response to planning application for 34 dwellings

Trees taken out at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

I thought it may help others (who may wish to make their own comments) if I published here the representations that Sheila and I have made to Sefton Council’s Planners with regard to the recent planning application for this site.

Tree felling machinery at work on the site in September 2016.

I am sure others will have additional ideas about how their representations should be framed but this is what we have said:-

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Planning Services
Sefton Council
Magdalen House
30 Trinity Road
Bootle
L20 3NL

Yr Ref DC/201700456

Land North of Turnbridge Road Maghull – Site within Lydiate Civil Parish

We write to make representations on the planning application as invited by your letter of 17th March.

Protection of the Green Belt

Firstly, our understanding is that the site is presently within Green Belt but that Sefton Council intends to remove it from such protection. This is clearly an unwelcome move and we oppose the reduction of the Maghull/Lydiate Green Belt.

Wooded nature of the site prior to September 2016

Secondly, this site was significantly wooded (as it had been for very many years) until a huge number of trees were felled in September 2016. Our understanding is that such works were undertaken without a licence from the Forestry Commission and that the felling has been subject of an investigation by said Forestry Commission. Our view is that the felled trees need to be replaced in significant numbers and to achieve this the number of properties to be constructed on the site should be reduced to accommodate a greater number of trees than is presently being proposed. The sight lines from the Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path and indeed on all sides of the development should replicate the wooded views prior to the felling. The fencing which presently abuts the Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path will also need careful consideration so that it is both secure but does not preclude the natural tree/shrub line from being the true screening of the site. In other words the starting point for consideration of the soft landscaping of this site should be that which was there prior to the seemingly unlicensed felling that took place last autumn, not from the state of the site as it is now i.e. following the felling. The Forestry Commission report on the site, following the felling, obviously needs to be accessed and taken into account in the assessment of this application.

Drainage issues

Thirdly, it is vital that the stream/drainage ditch that arrives on this site from underneath the canal is in no way hindered in its flow through to Maghull Brook, indeed this watercourse needs to be protected and kept clear both during and after the construction of the properties. Similar comments obviously go for Maghull Brook too of course. If this is not achieved the previous flooding issues suffered by properties in High Banks and Southport Road (documented by SMBC Drainage Engineer Sam Dimba) could well make an unwelcome return.

3 storey apartments

Fourthly, no properties adjoining this proposed development site, or indeed that are close to it, are more than 2 stories high so the roof line/height of the development needs to be pegged back to that of the surrounding Maghull & Lydiate properties. This is therefore an objection to the proposal to build a three storey block of 9 apartments on the site.

Construction traffic access

Fifthly, access to this site for construction purposes is clearly going to be problematic due to the presence of two weight limited canal swing bridges at Bells Lane and Green Lane. These bridges go out of service at times due to vehicles crossing them that are too heavy. There is obviously every opportunity for construction vehicles to make this situation worse for all concerned locally if they try to use the bridges. One alternative that may be under consideration is to take construction traffic through the Green Park Estate and thereby worryingly close to two primary schools – Green Park & St. John Bosco. However, this is clearly a concern due to the narrow nature of the estate roads and the congestion in Green Lane, Green Link, West Meade and Round Meade at schools times. The other alternative, a temporary road off Bells Lane for construction traffic, also raises issues that will need to carefully considered due to the narrow nature of Bells Lane and a weight limited canal swing bridge previously mentioned. It is also the case that roads such as Turnbridge Road and Greenbank Avenue could be hugely and detrimentally impacted on by construction traffic if access is agreed via Green Lane/The Green Park Estate. This is clearly an issue that will need to be fully addressed prior to any construction traffic accessing the site. What’s more the developer will need to be transparent in defining how construction traffic access will be properly managed/policed. This will require a clear and effective contact process for residents to be able to both report and stop any transgressions of the finally agreed access route(s).

Clearly our primary consideration is the protection of the Green Belt as defined prior to the present Sefton Local Plan being developed. However, should Sefton Council be determined to take this site out of the Green Belt and release it for the development of housing we hope that notice will be taken of the representations in this letter.

In summary the major issues are:-

* Protection of the Green Belt.
* The replacement of the many recently felled trees on the site.
* Perimeter fencing being secure but not obscuring the natural wooded view of the site. Wooded sight lines surrounding the site prior to September 2016 being replicated.
* Open drainage steams/ditches not being compromised during construction or indeed after.
* The 3 storey apartments being reduced to 2 storey.
* Access to the site during construction being very carefully managed.

Yours sincerely

Tony & Sheila Robertson

House building in Sefton Borough – What should we expect to see?

local-plan-housing-trajectory-1

Please click on the bar graph to enlarge it

It is meant to detail the anticipated house building that will go on across the Borough from 2012/13 to 2029/30 as a consequence of the Sefton Local Plan being adopted.

Don’t worry this particular posting is not another of my rants about the loss of Green Belt and the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England to building, although that is exactly what is happening here in Sefton Borough sadly.

The second chart below details the individual development sites and when they are anticipated to come on stream for building:-

local-plan-housing-trajectory-2

Again, you need to click on it to be able to see a large size. There’s a lot of information on this sheet and you will need to get it as large as you can to be able to easily read it.

SHLAA – means Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment
PP – means planning permission
Windfalls – means sites that come up for house building that had not previously been anticipated for that use.

What I am not presently sure about is how often these documents are updated as clearly house building can be impacted on by the state of the local and UK economy for instance. Personally, I would not set too much store by these predictions when it comes to individual sites but as an overall projection it does give some idea of what Sefton Council’s Planners think is likely to happen – possibly – well they hope – well you get my drift or is that their drift?

With thanks to Lydiate Parish Council for providing the charts

Lydiate – More activity on that Green Belt site off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

No sooner had I posted about the results of the Forestry Commission’s investigations into the unlicensed tree felling on this site, which runs along the side of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, than something else happens. What exactly went on today is unclear though but local residents raised the alarm based on previous troubles with the felling.

turnbridge-rd-site-15-11-16

What I know. This morning a JCB type vehicle arrived and some work was undertaken on the site. Cllr. Pat O’Hanlon went to check things out this morning and I have been this afternoon. There seem to be around 6 areas of the land where sand has been used to make rough circles on the ground. What purpose the sand circles serve I presently don’t know. Nothing else seems to have happened and as far as I could see no further trees have been removed.

turnbridge-rd-site-15-11-16-2

I am aware of vermin issues on the site so could the sand circles be associated with that issue?

Questions will be asked and if I find out anything more I will let folks know.

Note:- The land is presently part of Lydiate’s Green Belt but Sefton Council controversially want it to be released for house building.

Formby/Little Altcar – Their Neighbourhood Plan Proposals

A Red Squirrel - What could be more symbolic of Formby and Little Altcar

A Red Squirrel – What could be more symbolic of Formby and Little Altcar

Being involved with the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan, although still reasonably sceptical of the limited scope of Neighbourhood Planning generally, I thought looking at a plan that was at a pretty advanced stage from a local perspective would be useful. Here’s a link to the joint Neighbourhood Plan of Formby and Little Altcar Parish Councils:-

www.formbyparishcouncil.org.uk/images/Development_Plan_-website.pdf

I have always looked upon the Neighborhood Planning process in a similar way to how I look at the Merseyside Devolution Deal – They are both too subservient to powers and plans above them in the democratic hierarchy. In other words they are hand me downs giving the feeling of more local control when in fact the additional local control is actually quite negligible.

A protest placard demanding that Sefton Council takes notice of Formby views.

A protest placard demanding that Sefton Council takes notice of Formby views.

In Sefton I have often said that the Labour-run Borough Council has promoted them more as an apology for it allocating acre upon acre of high grade agricultural land and Green Belt for building development. You may also recall that at one point Labour sources locally seemed to be trying to put out the message that a Neighbourhood Plan could restrict the development on Green Belt! I right old made up story if I ever heard one.

Anyway that’s off my chest again so back to the Neighbourhood Plans that are being put together locally. Formby and Little Altcar seem to have tried very hard to make a successful and influential Plan but it still has to go via a Planning Inspector and a referendum of electors in those two Civil Parishes.

The section of the Formby Plan copied below struck me as I know only too well how flooding concerns in that community are significant and how there is a great concern that proposed developments may well inadequately tackle what is in reality a Countrywide concern:-

Producing this Plan has been extremely difficult taking into account the various constraints on the land and concerns of local people.
Unfortunately, the planning system, in its current form, is unable to take an holistic approach when addressing flooding and flood risk to the
community. As this plan has not allocated any land but works with land already allocated via the emerging Sefton Local Plan, we reserve our
right to object to any application that does not demonstrate that it has fully addressed the flooding issues. The evidence base and flood
management section of this Plan demonstrates beyond any doubt that the community is determined to do something meaningful with
regards to addressing the very real ongoing risk of flooding in Formby.

I will post about Lydiate’s progress along the Neighbourhood Plan route in the not too distant future.

Lydiate – Update on that development site off Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

My previous posting of yesterday refers. It is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/08/09/lydiate-labours-first-green-belt-development-site-is-being-cleared-for-building/

Members of the Maghull & Lydiate Action Team (the support group of Maghull & Lydiate’s two new Independent Borough Councillors) have been delving into this matter and have been speaking to Sefton Council and the Forestry Commission. It seems the the Forestry Commission may have some powers associated with a large number of trees being cut down. If my understanding is correct then the Commission issues licences when the number/coverage of trees gets above a certain level. The issue now is whether the trees that have been cut down or are due to be cut down on this site fall within the appropriate criteria for a licence to be required.

More news when I have it.