Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 5, 2016

Whingeing Wittering Wally Waffles On Parrs Lane

The buck for the Parrs Lane shambles lies directly at the feet of the West Lancashire Conservative Councillors who controlled the borough in October 2013. They were Conservative Councillors Ashcroft, Mrs Atherley, Bailey, Baldock, Baybutt, Mrs Blake, Blane, Cheetham, Cropper, Mrs C Evans, Mrs R Evans, Forshaw, Fowler, Grant, Greenall, Griffiths, Mrs Hopley, Mrs Houlgrave, Jones, Kay, Ms Melling, O’Toole, Owens, Pope, Mrs Stephenson, Sudworth, Westley and Whittington (TWENTY EIGHT) and they voted “RESOLVED: That the West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 Development Plan Document (DPD), as attached at Appendix A to the Council Report, and the accompanying Policies Map, be adopted”.

The previous Local Plan was the responsibility of then Borough Councillor Ian Grant as Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Planning, shown here grantplan [click to enlarge] when he mentioned the “…full and fair Inquiry Report produced by Mr Goodman, the Inspector, whose final decisions were binding upon the Council”. Planning Inspector Philip A Goodman questioned the proposal to release around 20 hectares of green belt land in Parrs Lane Aughton with potential for 400 homes. To be polite about it he kicked it into touch! The question at that time was “Should land bounded by Long Lane, Parr’s Lane and Prescot Road be removed from the Green Belt to allow for residential development either in the long term or sooner?”

“The report explained that the description of the site was not always consistent, even in the Council’s various papers. “Partly for this reason it is not always clear that all the objectors are referring to exactly the same site, although they all appear to be referring to land east of the railway within the area bounded by Long Lane, Parr’s Lane and Prescot Road. Mr and Mrs Bleasdale also refer to land south of Parr’s Lane. In any event they have all been sent a copy of the Council’s proof of evidence with a map showing the Redrow objection site and none of them have sought to disassociate themselves from this”. Yes, Redrow. Now playing its part again in 2013 and 2016.

“The Redrow objection site must be several hectares. If all the land bounded by the railway, Long Lane, Parr’s Lane and Prescot Road were included the area would be nearly doubled. The Rothwell family describe their ownership as being 13 acres (5 hectares). Land beyond Parr’s Lane would add to the total amount of land considerably; with the Bleasdale’s saying that their total land holding is 63 acres (25 hectares). Clearly a considerable amount of land is involved. The land is open and much of it is used for agriculture.

“It is apparent that all the objectors see the ultimate use of the land as being for residential development. However, Redrow talk in terms of the land being safeguarded to provide for the (longer-term) development needs of Ormskirk/Aughton. Others are less specific as to when they think development might take place. In any event all want the land removed from the Green Belt now.

“However, in considering general objections to housing policies DE1, DE2 and DE3 I conclude that there is very little scope for additional new housing supply if the strategic levels established by RSS and JSP Policy 12 are not to be significantly exceeded. In line with the ‘plan, monitor and manage’ approach advocated by PPG3 the Council will annually monitor actual delivery of new housing against the modest level of housing completions now required by reference to the JSP. In my view it is unlikely that a need for the development of the site could be demonstrated for some time and certainly not before the review of the plan through the LDF process. There is thus no need for this land to be allocated or safeguarded now.

“PPG2 says that an essential characteristic of Green Belts is their permanence and that once their general extent has been approved it should be altered only in exceptional circumstances. Where existing local plans are being revised or updated, existing Green Belt boundaries should not be changed unless alterations to the structure plan have been approved or other exceptional circumstances exist which necessitate such a revision. Neither the RSS nor the recently approved JSP foresees the need to encroach significantly into the Green Belt to meet current development needs.

“All the objectors see the development of this land as being a “rounding off” of the urban area, a “natural” extension to the built up area or “infilling”. Whilst these arguments may have varying strength depending on exactly which area is being discussed, in no instance do they amount to the sort of exceptional circumstances needed to redraw the Green Belt. In any event if such “rounding off” were applied in a consistent way all round Ormskirk it would become a very much larger town. There is no indication that such an expansion is needed. The objectors also refer to the sustainability of this location and it is true it is close to a railway station and only about a mile from Ormskirk town centre. However, it is not noticeably more sustainable than other land around the periphery of the built up area and this does not overcome the basic difficulty that there is no established need to release more land from the Green Belt in the long or short term. Redrow also suggest that release of this land could assist in the provision of affordable housing in the area, although another objector says that what is needed is more “middle class housing”. Be that as it may, these considerations do not overcome the basic planning objection to removing this land from the Green Belt.

“In my view this land fulfils an important long term Green Belt purpose particularly in relation to checking unrestricted urban sprawl and safeguarding the countryside form urban encroachment. On the available evidence, therefore, I consider that the present situation does not represent exceptional circumstances sufficient to alter the Green Belt boundary in this location in this review of the Local Plan”.

Now move forward to what that local expert on planning and pre-determination issues Conservative Leader Cllr David Westley westleypram, said “The Conservative Group is bitterly disappointed with the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow on appeal one of the two Applications that had been refused by the Council’s Planning Committee. The Conservatives took the very difficult decisions that were necessary to deliver a robust Local Plan. They acted in best interests of the residents of West Lancashire and were ensuring the Borough would be protected from rogue developments. The Local Plan that was approved by the Planning Inspector after a lengthy public hearing designated the Parrs Lane Site as Safeguard Land. The expectation was for the Land being protected from development until at least 2027.

I am satisfied that the Council Officers put up a very robust defence of the Committee’s decision but the Inspector allowed the Appeal as, after considering all the detailed evidence, he was not convinced that the Borough had a 5 year Supply of Housing Land and that the release of the Parrs Lane Site was required to meet the shortfall.

The Council’s most recent Annual Monitoring Report dated 31 March 2015 stated there was then a Housing Land Supply of 6.1 years yet the Inspector concluded there was only a supply of 4.2 years. It is apparent that part of this difference was down to the Council including in its calculation a substantial number of Use Class C2 accommodation for older people in residential institutions. The Inspector discounted these and by way of justification referred to oral evidence provided by the Council at the original Local Plan Public Enquiry.

I have written formally to the Council’s Chief Executive calling for a Report on the Appeal Decision. The Report must explain the implications for the Local Plan of the Appeal Decision, provide a detailed analysis of the failure maintain a 5 year housing land supply and make recommendations on how to ensure there is effective monitoring in the future. The Report must be made public as the residents of Aughton and indeed the whole Borough have a right to know this information.

The Labour Leader and Planning Portfolio Holder have put out a joint press statement that simply tries to make political capital out of what is a very serious matter. They should not forget they have been in control of the Council for the past 15 months and have questions to answer on their failure to effective delivery of the Local Plan. The first and most obvious question is why the delay in publishing the 2016 Planning Annual Monitoring Report given it was due in March”.

Against the October 2013 Motion were Labour Councillors Aldridge, Bell, Davis, Delaney, Dereli, Fillis, Furey, Gagen, Gibson, Hennessey, G Hodson, J Hodson, Moran, Nolan, Oliver, Owen, Pendleton, Pryce-Roberts, Pye, Savage, West, Wilkie, Wright and Wynn (TWENTY FOUR).

The conclusion? There has been an intent to build on Parrs Lane for years. Inspector Mr Goodman knew it and addressed it. Redrow knew it and are on the point of achieving it. All this Tory Party bullshit is simply to cloud their long term commitment to it, including now that of their party in government.

Redrow are now in control of their destiny too. Subject: FW: [PINS]Appeal by Redrow Homes Ltd at Land to the north west of Parrs Lane, Aughton (3132596) -URGENT
Dear Mr Boulton
I am the in-house solicitor for Redrow Homes Limited – Lancashire Division and refer to your email below which has been passed to me with instructions to finalise a planning obligation to address affordable housing provision. In this respect I have been in urgent contact with the land owners’ solicitor to check as to the availability of signatories. The land owners comprise three individuals who hold the land jointly as trustees. All three live in different parts of the country and one of the trustees is currently on holiday and out of the country until the 12th September next. Accordingly, complying with a 10 working day deadline, assuming that to be close of business on the 5th September next, to provide the executed planning obligation will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. In the circumstances I have been instructed to request an extension of time until 5.00pm on the 16th September and should be grateful if you would seek urgent instructions from the Inspector to see if he would be willing to grant the same.
Yours sincerely
Neil Robinson
Legal Director

Mr Robinson
Thank you for your email below. The Inspector understands the difficulties and agrees the slightly longer deadline. Would you mind please letting us know nearer the time if there might be a further delay?
Paul Bennett (for Mark Boulton)

Subject: RE: [PINS]Appeal by Redrow Homes Ltd at Land to the north west of Parrs Lane, Aughton (3132596) – URGENT
Dear Mr Bennett
That is very helpful many thanks. I will, of course, let you know if there is likely to be any further delay
Kind Regards
Neil Robinson

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