At the WLBC Council meeting last night a Tory motion was discussed. The Agenda Item 16b “Local Plan Review Cabinet Working Group – Motion Included on the Agenda by Councillor Pope on Behalf of the Conservative Group”.
“The Local Plan Cabinet Working Group considered a number of updates to the existing Local Plan 2012/27 that were then incorporated as part of the Local Plan Preferred Options document, which resulted in a completely new Local Plan being approved by Cabinet for consultation.
“If the Preferred Options are eventually accepted and form the basis of a new Local Plan 2020/50 then this will mean scrapping the existing Local Plan 2013/27 despite it having 9 years to run. The Existing Local Plan is continuing to (a) meet local housing need (b) deliver the planned number of new homes and (c) provide the necessary 5 year supply of housing land. It has withstood legal challenges in respect of rogue developments and is clearly soundly based and robust.
“The proposal for a new 30 year Local Plan 2020/50 is unprecedented given that it has not been possible to identify any other council that has adopted such an approach. It is impossible to accurately forecast the Borough’s population growth, future housing and employment needs for more than 30 years ahead. The proposal to plan for 15,992 new homes and a huge amount of land for employment use can only be a very rough estimate given the official population forecast only project to 2041 and even the Treasury has difficulties accurately forecasting medium term economic growth.
“It is also proposed to stop the established practice of safeguarding sites identified for possible future development. This would mean the Council abdicating its responsibility to manage the release of sites and allow developers, or “market”, to decide which sites should be developed first. It would also mean that all the sites needed for the next 30 years would be made available for development from 2021.
“Apart from wanting a huge increase in the annual target for both house building and commercial development, the Preferred Options propose to provide land to meet the future housing and commercial development needs of Merseyside – 6,256 new homes and hundreds of acres for employment use as part of an uncertain promise of support with a possible rail link for Skelmersdale.
“The proposed release of up to 1,500 acres from the Greenbelt or Safeguarded land is cause for considerable concern. The need to take such drastic action is a direct consequence of the issues detailed above.
“Given the above issues and the widespread public concern, this Council resolves to urge Cabinet to reconsider the Preferred Options and instruct the Local Plan Cabinet Working Group to consider new proposals to review the existing Local Plan 2012/27 and make suitable recommendations to Cabinet to update, amend and possibly extend that Local Plan”.
But the twist came when the Conservatives revealed they don’t have a plan, leading to Labour Cllr Neil Furey using facebook for this apt cartoon.