Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 10, 2018

Is There A Housing Crisis Or A Population Crisis?

Anyone with an interest in the proposal by West Lancashire Borough Council to build “the exciting vision for an ambitious West Lancashire”, (or should that be an ambitious developers’ charter for West Lancashire?), will be aware of the new Local Plan proposals with its included Table 4a; Housing and Employment Land Requirement by Plan Period that discloses Option E for 2012-2037 Option of 15,000 dwellings, or its 2012-2050 Option 22,800 dwellings.

There being no apparent population crisis in West Lancashire we then notice the apparent influence of the Liverpool City Region as the SHELMA seeks to identify the Objectively-Assessed Need (OAN) for West Lancashire and for the Liverpool City Region as a whole.

In fact many comments have been made at some public meetings already, and MP Rosie Cooper has said that she does “not believe that West Lancashire Borough Council should build houses for Merseyside’”. She wrote Thank you for contacting my office recently to raise your concerns over the proposed local plan and the impact it will have on habitats, farmer’s livelihoods, road congestion, power and water supplies, and sewage treatment. My advice to any resident who is unhappy with the draft local plan is to fully engage with the consultation process and give their views on plan through the formal channels, addressing each issue and explaining in detail why it is an issue.

“I have heard the figure of 16,000 houses being mentioned which I believe is very high and I do not believe that West Lancashire Borough council should build houses for Merseyside. I do not support continued development on the green belt but only so much as is necessary to meet the needs of West Lancashire residents. As you will be aware, I do not have any decision-making power over what the council chooses to do, including the development of thelr local plan. I will continue to represent residents and ensure the council are fully aware of the views of my West Lancashire constituents.

“I have brought your concerns to the attention of John Harrison Director of Development and Regeneration Services for West Lancashire Borough Council, and asked that this matter be investigated. I will contact you again once l have received a reply”.

But it isn’t just Merseyside (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens, Wigan). The list of local authorities included in the “Duty To Co-operate Statement” also includes Chorley Borough Council, South Ribble Borough Council, and Fylde Borough Council.

So is there a housing crisis or a population crisis in West Lancashire, and if there is evidence for it, what housing might that be? By WLBC’s own admission there is no brown field land available, so all new housing will be on green belt land, sold by farmers at 10 times the price of land for agriculture, that price then to be reflected in house prices.

By chance a letter was published in the Times a day or two ago . It questions an opinion of the National Housing Federation that if we build 340,000 homes each year until 2033 we will avert the (current) housing crisis by supplying enough houses to satisfy demand (current). But “the population of England will have increased by 5.5million by 2033…the ability of the population to expand at a rate that exceeds the capacity of the services (only one of which is housing) that sustain it should be self evident”.

We know all about that, capacity of services, ie infrastructure, so poor in West Lancashire as to be described in some cases as pitiful. Will it change? Not a chance!

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