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

Maghull/Lydiate – HOUSING DEVELOPMENT – “IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO !”

The vast Maghull East development site as seen from Poverty Lane, Maghull

Cllr. John Pugh is the Opposition Leader on Sefton Council. This is his press release following a Sefton Council Planning Committee ‘wobble’ regarding housing development sites in the Borough last week:-

*****

The decision last week by Sefton council to delay giving the final go-ahead to housing development in Southport could give hope to Maghull and Lydiate residents facing massive housing expansion in the area.

A combination of people power and sound argument at last Wednesday’s planning committee prevented the usual rubber stamping of a planned housing development on farmland in Bankfield Lane Northern Southport.

According to the Sefton Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr John Pugh, this represents a watershed moment.

“Until now the ruling party [Labour] has pushed all plans through, claiming that the government requires it and their hands are tied. Incursion into the green belt has been driven by housing target numbers with little regard to sustainability. However developers last week had no good answers when residents brought up the issue of drainage and flooding key issues in Maghull and Lydiate – and Sefton’s planning committee for once wobbled.”

“Its time now for Sefton to follow West Lancs and review its local plans. The huge numbers of dwellings supposedly needed are based on dubious projections from consultants’ reports.Those reports are a developer’s charter , a builder’s dream but not a sustainable blueprint for our future communities. Sefton’s plans are no longer consistent with the government’s recently released 25 year plan and have to be changed. The government now is insisting that development should result in “Net Environmental Gain “ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/693158/25-year-environment-plan.pdf

Last week Sefton wobbled. This week campaigners for the greenbelt and a more sustainable approach need to scale up their efforts to persuade.”

Lydiate – A lot of folk at Parish Council meeting to hear about a leisure/sporting facility being proposed

Last Tuesday’s Lydiate Parish Council meeting was a full house so to speak as over 30 residents from the Hall Lane/Southport Road area turned out to hear a presentation to the Council from a local landowner who wants to develop outdoor leisure/sporting facilities on what is presently agricultural land in Green Belt off these roads.

It had not been intended as public presentation by the land owner but as word got around of the presentation locals turned out in force from what is a sparsely populated rural part of Lydiate Civil Parish.

We were told that the land owner wanted to diversify and use the 22 acres of land for water sports activities, nature reserve, mountain bike track, zip wire etc. Access would be off Southport Road with a car park on the site. A pre-planning application had been submitted to Sefton Council in late 2017 and the owner said he had been asked to provide evidence of support and need for the facility.

Soil taken from creating the lakes would be used on site to mound up the mountain bike track around 1m. The present idea is that the site would potentially attract up to 200 visitors on a good summer day with a charge of around £5 for access to what seems to be planned to be an unfenced site. Not much winter use is envisaged and no floodlighting is planned. Over a year 15,000 to 20,000 people visiting the facility seems to be envisaged.

The facility would be run by a staff of around 6 people engaged with training, maintenance and water sports supervision.

I think it fair to say that the developer’s plans got a frosty reception from the attending residents with many questions being asked about a myriad of concerns. Having said that we were told that the developer had letters of support from some local schools, business and the scouts.

I got the impression that the developer was testing the water and looking for ideas to develop his plans from locals and that things may well change prior to any formal planning application being made to Sefton Council.

The fact that the land is firmly within Sefton’s recently revised Green Belt and that it is high grade agricultural land means to me that Planners are going to have a very critical eye on the matter. The other thing that struck me was that I don’t recall any proposals being made to take this piece of land out of Green Belt or to develop it during Sefton Council’s controversial Local Plan process which has only just ended. To me that process was the obvious time to have raised such plans.

I have the feeling that this matter is going to be hugely controversial should a formal planning application follow on from the presentation to Lydiate Parish Council. I would add that the Parish Council will respond to any formal planning application that is submitted when the full facts surrounding the matter are known.

Maghull – 1 & 2 bedroom properties are required BUT………

My frustrations with Sefton Council’s Local Plan are well documented on this blog site. Having spent more years than I care to recall fighting it; I lost of course as did many other campaigners across the Borough.

It’s not that we don’t recognise the need for housing locally, as our opponents often try to portray our campaigning, its that we see the need to protect some of the very highest grades of agricultural land in England from being concreted over. But the other clash was actually about the type of housing to be built in the Borough. The poster below on fencing surrounding the the Ashworth South Site in Maghull sums up the problem:-

If we have to lose land for housing (in fact nearly everyone was happy for the Ashworth South site to be developed) then at least make it for types of housing that we actually need. Yes I’m sure 4 and 5 bedroomed properties will sell but they are hardly a priority for the Maghull & Lydiate part of the Borough. We need single level 1 and 2 bedroomed properties for the elderly to move into to free up family sized houses together with small properties to get young folk on the housing ladder. And of course we need more social housing for rent as the housing ladder is actually beyond the pockets of many young folk these days even if they are in work.

Yet despite these rather obvious housing needs we seem to have the worst of all worlds. Other than the Ashworth South site a great deal of high grade agricultural land (which grows the food we eat) is going to be used for house building particularly in Maghull, but where will the housing be that we actually need?

Housing and land use policy in the UK is without doubt a complete mess. I despair I really do…..

Sefton Housing Plans Fail New Government Test – Pugh turns screw on Council’s building plans

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will be concreted over.

The Liberal Democrat leader on Sefton Council, Cllr. John Pugh is calling on Sefton to review its housing plans following a new government statement toughening up environmental requirements.

In launching the new environmental policy last week, the Prime Minister and the government called for the principle of environmental net gain to be embedded in the planning system.

What this means according to Cllr. Pugh is that any development must enhance and improve the environment. “It is clear that Sefton’s current plans do not meet this test. The government policy document specifically mentions “flooding” and there is no doubt that many of Sefton’s housing projects increase rather than decrease pressure on our ancient drainage system.

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

This new policy raises the threshold for what we expect of new development in order to give more sustainable outcomes.

The Council repeatedly state that they must observe government policy and here is an opportunity to run a new slide rule over proposed developments in Southport, Maghull and all parts of Sefton.

My instinct is that many proposed current developments would fail the new test. That’s scarcely surprising when the council previous policy relied on consultants who also work for the big house building firms. Opposition councillors will be seeking an early opportunity to force a council re-think in the light of the new policy.”

ENDS

Quote from “Our Green Future” HM Government www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673203/25-year-environment-plan.pdf

P5
We will ensure that we support development and the environment by embedding the principle that new development should result in net environmental gain

P33 We will seek to embed a ‘net environmental gain’ principle for development to deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally. …………. We want to establish strategic, flexible and locally tailored approaches that recognise the relationship between the quality of the environment and development. That will enable us to achieve measurable improvements for the environment – ‘environmental net gains’ – while ensuring economic growth and reducing costs, complexity and delays for developers.

NB Current policy is simply permissive that planners should provide environmental gains where possible.

Financial Times 11th January

‘Developers will have to deliver a “net environmental gain” when they build new housing estates and infrastructure projects under Theresa May’s new 25-year environment plan.’

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