Month: July 2018

New Planning For Homes To Provide More Explicit Protection For Green Belt

Communities face “punishment” if developers fail to build enough homes in their areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned after the Government published a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework. Housing and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire  said the new NPPF would make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality and unattractive development, and “give communities a greater voice about how developments should look and feel”.

But the LGA’s Conservative chair Lord Porter said “It is hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to our concerns about nationally set housing targets, and will introduce a delivery test that punishes communities for homes not built by private developers. Councils work hard with communities to get support for good quality housing development locally, and there is a risk these reforms will lead to locally agreed plans being bypassed by national targets.”

Brokenshire said the revised NPPF would promote high quality design of new homes and places, give better environmental protection, secure “the right number of homes in the right places” and put greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery on councils and developers. It also gives a new method for councils to calculate housing need and from November 2018 imposes the housing delivery test to which the LGA objects. This will penalise councils in areas where insufficient homes are built.

Lord Porter said “Planning is not a barrier to housebuilding, and councils are approving nine out of 10 applications. To boost the supply of homes and affordability, it is vital to give councils powers to ensure homes with permission are built, enable all councils to borrow to build, keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally”. Other major changes from the original NPPF include making it easier for councils to refuse permission for developments on grounds of poor design, and a more explicit protection for green belts.

Royal Town Planning Institute  president John Acres welcomed clearer definitions of concepts like ‘sustainable development’ but warned about “the significant pressure the new NPPF requirements will put on local authority planning teams”. Acres added that “It is imperative that chief executives, council leaders and politicians resource planning departments sufficiently, particularly as they will now be held more accountable for delivery under the housing delivery test and are expected to carry out more regular reviews of their plans”.

Your Chance To Make A Difference!

WLBC  has a vacancy, a “Fixed Term Leisure Project Development Manager” to be based at the Robert Hodge Centre, Skelmersdale, WN8 8EE. The salary will be £41,846 to £44,697 per annum. It is a full time post for two years. The closing date is 23.59 hours BST on Friday 27 July 2018. It is “Your chance to make a difference!”

The bumph states “West Lancashire lies at the heart of the North West of England, located within easy reach of major conurbations such as Manchester and Liverpool. With a growing economy, it is home to a top-class university and benefits from a mix of vibrant towns, picturesque villages and some of the most beautiful and productive countryside in the UK.

“West Lancashire Borough Council is ambitious for West Lancashire and this is at the heart of everything we do. We deliver a wide range of services to the local community, including refuse and recycling, leisure and recreation, planning and housing.

“We are developing plans to introduce two new Leisure Centres for the Borough. To support this work we are seeking to appoint an experienced Leisure Project Development Manager, providing project management support to the Deputy Director of Leisure & Wellbeing.

“If you already have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience in the development of leisure projects and are looking for the chance to make a difference, then we would like to hear from you!

“As a Leisure Project Development Manager, the main purpose of your role will be to support the procurement of significant capital and revenue projects, securing external grants and partnership funding to meet the priorities and key actions identified in the Council’s Leisure Strategy. In support of the Deputy Director of Leisure & Wellbeing, you will deliver the Council’s strategic aims and objectives by ensuring leisure services are delivered which create, enhance and promote opportunity for involvement in sport, recreation and physical activity by all sections of the West Lancashire community.

“The successful candidate will have a degree or equivalent level qualification in a relevant subject area (significant relevant experience may satisfy this requirement), evidence of continued professional development, experience of working in partnership to develop and deliver services, and experience of carrying out major funding applications and public and stakeholder consultation exercises. To fulfil this role you will need excellent verbal, presentation and written communication skills and the ability to motivate, influence and negotiate with both internal and external partners. This is a fixed term opportunity for up to two years”.

Hopefully the “Council’s strategic aims and objectives by ensuring leisure services are delivered which create, enhance and promote opportunity for involvement in sport, recreation and physical activity by all sections of the West Lancashire community” referred to above will soon include the Beacon Park Golf Course and its facilities for local golfers?

OWLs Bid For Knowsley?

The latest OWL  news comes just in time for its bid to win the Knowsley Ward by-election. They report that “Blue bins will be provided free of charge to new users as finally the Labour council relents. We explain how to get one. Plus positive progress on new swim & leisure centres in Ormskirk and Skelmersdale; we’re asking questions of the Council Leader and useful information to help you recycle more plastics.

Fairness restored as sustained pressure prompts council rethink. Fairness has been restored for thousands of residents as a result of the Borough Council reversing its unjust attempt to charge £25 for a blue bin to residents who have continued to use a blue box: a move warmly welcomed by the councillor who first raised the matter.

Our West Lancashire’s Adrian Owens  said “It was when we asked more than 1,800 local residents for their feedback on the changes to the garden waste service [through this email newsletter] that this blue box injustice came to light with many residents contacting us and saying it was unfair.

“We immediately took the matter up with the council. Firstly, they had to admit that the advice they were providing to residents was incorrect and to change it, yet for several weeks, residents were complaining to us that they were getting no replies whatsoever from senior Labour councillors including the portfolio holder for waste collection.

“Eventually, with the number of questions mounting and the damaging media coverage, the Council Leader made a U-turn. Our West Lancashire were delighted that the council meeting ratified this policy reversal last week. Now, residents who kept a blue box in 2013 when blue bins were introduced will be treated equitably and receive a blue bin without charge up until the end of October”.

If you have used a blue box up to now, to order a blue bin online free of charge visit http://www.westlancs.gov.uk/refuse before 31 October 2018. The same web page can be used to request a free green bin for cardboard and paper if you did not have a green bin in the past because you had little or no garden waste. The council say that those who have recently paid £25 for a blue bin will automatically be refunded. This is yet another example of the influence and achievements possible with an Independent voice on the Council.

In October 2015, the Labour Council approved a draft Leisure Strategy which suggested Park Pool be considered for closure. Our near 1000-name petition prompted a screeching U-turn and subsequent work has shown the strong financial position of the pool.

Now, the council with the strong support of Our West Lancashire councillors has approved feasibility for a replacement pool and leisure centre for Ormskirk (and one for Skelmersdale too) to move to the detailed phase. A new swimming centre with additional facilities looks increasingly likely by 2022/23. We’ve come a long way since October 2015 but that wouldn’t have been possible without our campaign and the incredible support you as local residents gave it. Thank you. We remain the only political group in their financial plans to have committed £4 million of identified council funding towards the new pools.

FFS

You might be wondering what FFS means, as reported in the Champion ? Not what you MIGHT have thought, but it means “For our Future’s Sake” as in the future of Edge Hill University students affected by Brexit. Now these students may have already voted on 23 June 2016, in the referendum that resulted in a simple majority of 51.9% (of people who voted) being in favour of leaving the EU. The government of that time had promised to implement the result, and it initiated the official EU withdrawal process on 29 March 2017, which puts the UK on course to leave the EU by 30 March 2019. A previous referendum had taken us into the “common market”.

According to the local university union vice-president, FFS wants a “peoples’ vote” on Brexit. They are frustrated, and believe that a peoples’ vote on the terms of the deal is the only way forward “to show that this is not the future that young people want”. Perhaps they might be better informed about EU youth employment than the EU itself, which declares Greece to have 42.3% youth un-employment, Spain 35%, Italy 31.7% and it goes on ad infinitum. But Germany, the major beneficiary of the UK trade deficit, has a mere 6.4% youth un-employment rate.

Perhaps the students believe a former, appalling, prime minister, John Major who is apparently reigniting Project Fear, which got it so wrong with its tax payer funded country-wide leaflet drop propounding its totally unfounded woes? Are 17,419,742 peoples’ votes now to be disregarded on a whim of a students’ union?

Strangely enough many old people still have a future too, but they might want a future outside the EU? After all, they’ve experienced it long enough to know how poor this country really is? And, they didn’t demand a second bite of the referendum cherry!

Aughton Councillors’ Ineptitude

We last showed this picture  on 11 June. It is on the Granville Park pavement over which the lorries delivering to the Aughton Co-Op drive for access to the store. We, Aughton, have five borough councillors, 3 in Aughton & Downholland, and 2 in Aughton Park. One is the local division county councillor. So we can only wonder why between them they are paid £27,599, just for WLBC allowances, and one receives LCC allowances too. We can only wonder when Cllrs D and M Westley, Currie, O’Toole, and Stephenson will wake up to the disgraceful neglect of this pavement. Perhaps when someone is reported to have broken a leg there?

Planning Committee To Decide Contentious Applications

The WLBC Planning Committee meets on Thursday to hear some applications that might be assumed to be contentious. One, a change of use of a barn to a pet crematorium at  Winifred Lane Aughton, was to be determined under the Council’s delegation scheme. The Aughton Parish Council did not object to it, but 19 local residents did. However, Councillor O’Toole “has requested it be referred to Committee to consider the impact on surrounding residents. It is considered to be acceptable in principle and in compliance with Policy GN1 of the West Lancashire Local Plan. The proposal is considered to be appropriate to the location and will not have a significant impact on the character or appearance of the surrounding area or on the amenity of neighbouring properties. Suitable planning conditions will be added to any approval to ensure landscape and highway works are carried out appropriately. The proposed development is considered to be compliant with the NPPF and Policies GN1, GN3, EC2, IF2, EN4 and EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 DPD. 3.0 RECOMMENDATION: APPROVE subject to conditions”.

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Another contentious application is at “Bridge Farm Dale Lane Northwood Kirkby Liverpool Knowsley L33 3AU PROPOSAL Change of existing pasture land to a golf facility incorporating a new floodlit driving range with covered practice bays and administration office; a nine hole par 3 golf course; an adventure golf course and parking provision. This application to change the use of the land to a golf facility is considered to be unacceptable as insufficient ecological and wintering bird surveys have been carried to determine whether the proposed development would affect internationally designated sites, their qualifying features and supporting habitat. In addition, the proposed engineering operations to re-grade the land are considered to be harmful to the visual amenity and landscape character of the Green Belt. Furthermore, insufficient information has been submitted to assess whether or not a suitable and safe access to the site can be provided for vehicles, HGVs and pedestrians. The development will also result in the loss of high quality agricultural land, and it has not been demonstrated that areas of lower quality land could not accommodate the development. Consequently, I consider that the proposal does not accord with the NPPF and policies GN1, GN3 and EN2 of the Local Plan and as such should be recommended for refusal. 2.0 RECOMMENDATION: That planning permission be REFUSED.

 

And an application for the Pilkington Technology Centre Hall Lane, Lathom, “Installation and operation of a solar installation and associated infrastructure.  [pic webaviation] APPLICANT Lightsource SPV 40 Ltd This is a full application for planning permission for a solar farm in two separate locations to provide electricity to the NSG Technical Centre. Elements of the development would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt and would impact on openness, however, the very special circumstances put forward by the applicant have been found to outweigh this harm. There would also be a limited level of harm to the setting of the Lathom Park Conservation Area which is outweighed by the public benefits that would arise from the development. On balance, the siting of the proposed solar arrays is considered acceptable and there would be no undue harm to residential amenity. Subject to suitable planning conditions there would not be an adverse impact on archaeology, ecology and drainage. RECOMMENDATION: APPROVE subject to conditions.

It could be a late finish for the committee members and public?