Maghull – Plans out for consultation to build its vast urban extension – 1685 houses

After all the political fallout of recent years regarding Sefton Council’s Local Plan the biggest controversy within that plan is coming to its detailed conclusion.

Two separate planning applications for 1685 houses to be constructed on Land East of Maghull have now been put out to public consultation by Sefton Council.

The planning application numbers are DC/2017/01532 and DC/2017/01528. and the closing date for objections is 17th August 2019.

I understand that around 1100 letters have been posted out by Sefton Planning Services to those near the site and anyone who has submitted an objection previously.

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

I could rehearse all my many postings written for this blog site from the recent past but I’ve had my say and sadly I lost the battle so I’ll just put the relevant information out there with one thought – Why put the high grade agricultural land which grows our food under bricks, tarmac and concrete? What sense does that make?

Maghull – Now about that vast urban extension to the east of the Town

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/housing-company-banned-joe-anderson-16287342

I wonder where this is heading and will Sefton Council take the same approach to these developers as Liverpool City Council seems to be doing? It feels like a long time now since Sefton Council picked the vast Maghull East site for an urban extension to the Town on what is presently high grade agricultural land. And it was a hugely controversial move which created a significant environmental protest movement in the Town and indeed across the Borough of Sefton, which I was a part of – see my many previous posting about it on this Sefton Focus Blog Site.

But there is danger here in thinking that Sefton Council or indeed Liverpool City Council can achieve much on land which is in private ownership. Yes, if the land to be sold is owned by a Council it gives it far more leverage as to the use it is put to otherwise, if the land is in private hands, the leverage is far, far less.

Like many I want to see the end to leasehold and ground rents etc.

Maghull/Lydiate* – What was the thinking when the Turnbridge Road site was picked for development?

You only have to pick up a copy of the Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper or look at comments on the Maghull Community Facebook page to see how troublesome this site is proving to be during the early stages of construction work to realise what a tough site it was always going to be to build on.

And before you think oh here’s that damn environmental campaigner going on about stopping development and building on agricultural land again just bear with me…..

When Sefton Council chose the sites that it was willing to take out of Green Belt/allow to be built upon in its Local Plan, why was this site picked?

I ask because it has proven to be a devil of a site to develop due to the restricted access to it. What with a weight limited canal swing bridge, narrow estate roads & country lanes and two primary schools to negotiate those of us with local knowledge have been left scratching our heads. For less than 50 housing units it makes you wonder what the imperative was to get this particular site built upon.

Now don’t get me wrong I was an opponent of Sefton’s Local Plan whilst I was on the Borough Council (until 2015) and continued to fight it (in my capacity as a Lydiate Parish Councillor) after I left that Council and yes I have ranted many times about why we need to protect things like high grade agricultural land from being built on. But that’s not my point here. Putting to one side feelings about the rights and wrongs of building on Green Belt and agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, why from a strategic planning perspective did Sefton Council prioritise this oh so difficult site above other alternatives?

Answers on a post card to Sefton Planning Dept…….

Oh, and by the way, I’m guessing that the ‘temporary’ road speed markings down the rural part Green Lane are associated with trying to control construction traffic accessing the site?

*Note:- The site is being accessed through Maghull’s streets and lanes but it’s actually wholly within Lydiate.

Lydiate & Maghull – Those Neighbourhood Plan Referendums – We were given a vote on the wrong Plan!

Here I am looking at what was protected Green Belt and presently still is high grade agricultural land off Lambshear Lane in Lydiate. It’s been reserved as building land in Sefton’s Local Plan.

If you live in either community did you vote in the 2 separate referendums on the Lydiate or Maghull NP’s on 18th December? I did but with little enthusiasm even though I had a hand in putting the Lydiate one together.

Why my lack of enthusiasm? Because these Neighbourhood Plans will have only marginal influence on the big planning issues that people are concerned about. The significant issues were all ‘settled’ when Sefton Borough’s Local Plan was controversially rammed through Sefton Council by its Labour majority.

It’s the Sefton Local Plan that we should have had a referendum on!

I must admit to being baffled by the publicity surrounding the two NP referendums with even our local MP seemingly getting over-excited about them in the Champion newspaper. You’d have thought that these NP’s were game changers in the world of urban planning because of the hype, when in fact they are only very limited in their effect.

Did I vote yes?. Yes, I did. Would it have made any difference if I had not voted for the Lydiate plan or if either of the plans had been rejected? No, not really.

In simple terms, the electorate was given the chance to vote on the wrong plan. Now a vote on Sefton’s Local Plan, which only Sefton Councillors were able to back or sack, would have been very significant and well worth getting excited about. Why? Because that Local Plan defined which parcels of Green Belt and high-grade agricultural land will be built on across Sefton Borough. In other words, it defined 95% of planning guidance for Sefton Borough whilst the public (on this occasion in Maghull & Lydiate) was thrown a ‘democratic’ option to approve, or not approve’ around just 5% of that guidance.

The vast Maghull East urban extension (presently high grade agricultural land) site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Sorry, I really can’t get excited about a worthy but hardly significant NP for my Lydiate community when I’ve had a hugely controversial Local Plan imposed on me by Sefton Council’s ruling political establishment. The massive Maghull East urban extension, to be built on the highest grades of agricultural land, will still be built – The Maghull NP does not stop that. And in Lydiate, the allocated sites for building houses (again mostly on high-grade agricultural land which feeds us) are unchanged by that community’s NP.

We were thrown one bag of Kevin Carrots to approve or disapprove

As I say the vote was on the wrong plan. We were thrown one bag of Kevin carrots to approve or disapprove of when we should have been considering whether it is wise to build on field after field of them across the joint communities of Lydiate and Maghull.

Labour excited about an Eric Pickles inspired policy

It was also strange how excited the political party (which voted through Sefton’s Local Plan) got about the two Neighbourhood Plans whilst also trying to give the impression that their Local Plan had been nothing to do with them at all. Even odder when you consider that Neighbourhood Plans were promoted by none other than the Tory’s Eric Pickles.

There’s nothing wrong with the Lydiate Neighbourhood Plan, I might add, in case you were wondering. It’s just that the context of it and indeed the importance of it has been completely over-played in my view. I have had nothing to do with the Maghull NP I should add.

We import 50% of our food!- Now do opposition politicians get why I keep banging on about saving high grade agricultural land from development?

Over the past 20 years or so I have consistently fought to stop the headlong charge to build on the highest grades of agricultural land in Sefton Borough. That fight was most recently via its Local Plan process and prior to that it’s Unitary Development Plan in the late 1990’s. But my point here is not just about saving to save Green Belt, worthy though that aim is, it’s about trying to save the land which grows our food!

That we now import 50% of what we eat when only a few years ago it was just a third is surely a big worry as the higher that figures grows the more shaky becomes our food supply sustainability. What’s more the higher that figure grows the worse becomes our environmental sustainability too. This is not a race we want to win unless we want to find ourselves short of food one day!

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC web site (see link below) about the cost of our food and how much we import:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45559594

Maghull’s massive urban extension site

I have photographed this (infamous)* site a number of times so that there’s a record of it as prime high grade, productive agricultural land before the bulldozers arrive at some point in the future. But it is a huge site bounded by Poverty Lane, the M58 Motorway, School Lane and The Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line so it’s hard to get a good shot of it all. Here’s my latest attempt:-

The photo was taken from the Ashworth Motorway Junction bridge and you can see the vastness of the site, which will soon be filled with around 1600 houses and an business park. Some welcome the houses, I morn the loss of high grade agricultural land that feeds us and would have fed future generations. I don’t see how you can celebrate building on such land when there is brownfield land across the county available to build on. Sorry I’m an environmentalist.

* infamous to those who fought to save it from the bulldozers that is.

Click on the photo to enlarge it