Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 25, 2018

The Historical Political Contrast Of Local Plans

I was reminded today by a friend that on 17th Oct 2013, five years have flown by, I wrote on, since deleted by virtue of website  space issues, that “John Hodson Spoke.  Well Worth The Admission Fee”. I copy it below.

“The protestors to the adoption of the Local Plan who heard the debate were impressed that, in his speech, a Councillor for Scott ward John Hodson  had shown a grasp of the situation that was outstanding, and more so by comparison with the dross of the majority party.

“He spoke about the National Planning Policy Framework and about Council’s flawed thinking behind it that was obviously designed to aid developers open up the Green Belt and greenfield sites for their profits. As Cllr Hodson put it, planning is not an obstruction to development, it’s more a question of lenders and the loss of confidence. It is a policy cynically dressed up as ‘Localism’ and that is the exact opposite to what the public understood it to be.

“He suggested that the Local Plan has been only partially produced under the NPPF and so is bound to be flawed. It’s not that it does not meet the test of Soundness under the NPPF, nor is it that it does not meet the test of Legal Compliance under the NPPF, but it is that it does not meet the test of the people who it is mostly going to affect, the residents of West Lancashire. Quite simply it is not the best Local Plan for West Lancashire.

“Cllr Hodson spoke of this Local Plan also letting down the people of Skelmersdale, that less than 50% of development, equivalent to just a few thousand population, is to take place in a Strategic Town Settlement which was originally designed for twice its current population of 45,000 in terms of infrastructure. What did this mean? It means less. Less attraction to potential employers, less attraction to investors, less attraction to major retailers, and less for the people of Skelmersdale New Town.

“But it also does mean more for some, and here we heard Cllr Hodson refer to what the Tories always want for their backers. More profit for greenfield landowners, more profit for developers who get to build where they want to, more safeguarding of the Political bases of certain elected members, the true ultimate NIMBYs.

“Cllr Hodson made an impassioned statement that we should be clear about the ownership of this Local Plan. He asked, does it belong to the People of Ormskirk? Does it belong to the people of Halsall? Does it belong to the people of Burscough? Does it belong to the people of Skelmersdale? Does it even belong to the people of West Lancashire? His answer was a firm No, it belongs ONLY to its creators and advocates, the Tories of West Lancashire and their National Cohorts in Government. Not to mention their land developer donors.

“For that reason, he said, “I am proud to say that I will be voting “Against” this Local Plan which is not worthy of the people of West Lancashire, and I request a recorded vote by name”.

“This contribution was worth the admission fee…my contribution to the hospitality enjoyed by the freeloaders in the Westley Arms”.

Now, about that admission fee! It was free, but it came at a cost of police presence to control the protestors. Just like September 2018. We didn’t threaten councillors, we protested against lack of democratic participation in the process. As did Cllr Hodson. He must now tell us what has changed since 2013. Why does Skelmersdale not own HIS local plan? It can’t be political, can it? Has the dross of the THEN majority party been draped around the NOW majority party? Probably!


  1. Fast forward 5 years and a Councillor shows himself to be a hypocrite! Funny how quickly they forget their standpoints once they find themselves in the power they crave.

    • It is a trait of politicians to have short memories?

      • What a load of tosh! I attended and contributed to the Planning Commission held in Cunard Buildings, Liverpool on Thursday last, a Meeting Chaired by Roberta Blackam Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Planning where the Commission are gathering evidence in preparation for possible Planning reform. My input was directly consistent with my views in 2013 with the added experience of the last 5 years and especially the last 3 when Labour took control of the Council after 13 long years of Tory administration. The new Local Plan seeks a different approach which is more Planning led development rather than Developer led Planning.

      • Which part of the article is “a load of tosh”? What relevance is your attendance at a Planning Commission meeting to West Lancashire’s shambolic new local plan? Where is your evidence of the new West Lancashire plan being “planning led” rather than “developer led”? It’s your job to inform the public and take notice of comments about the new local plan. When will the public be informed from recorded minutes of all meetings held by the cabal that decides planning in this borough?

      • Incidentally and talking tosh…the Liverpool Meeting addressed by Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, and she spoke about Labour’s proposals for housing and land supply. It is Labours Planning Commission which she said “will look at how we get land into the system- not just for development, but for redevelopment and the regeneration of brownfield land”. She said “we must have a better system of capturing land value uplift, especially one that is focused more on delivering the infrastructure our communities need to be sustainable and successful in the future”. Very laudable. Readers in Burscough might wonder if there will ever be a focus on a sustainable and successful infrastructure there?

  2. You seem to fail to understand that it is the Government at national level that determines the Planning system, not us locally. Roberta Blackman Woods is developing a different approach to it for when Labour next take office, but in the meantime we have to operate within the existing system. I fully agree with the comments from Roberta, I quoted the meeting to try and illustrate that I have not changed my views since 2013 apart from gaining a reader understanding of Planning.

    • Methinks you protest too much. The clue for whose planning system it is can be found in the title of the “National Planning Practice Guidance”. Here in West Lancashire despite it being a Labour controlled council imposing Tory planning development on us, all we can see is developer ecstasy at the housing being built on the land that should be feeding us. Do I have to remind you of what a resident said at the Council meeting in September “Who’s responsible for taking my house, my farm, my life away from me? You’re ripping the heart out of our community. Everyone (drowned out by applause and noise)”.

  3. Green Belt in West Lancs = 90.5% of the land area. Under the Preferred Options proposals by 2050 there will still be 88.8% meaning loss of 1.7% overall in that period. Every Local Plan releases some Green Belt. If you had 3x 10 year or 2×15 year plans you would release the same. Not to do so is not an option as we would be deemed not to have a 5 year Housing Land supply leaving us exposed to ‘planning by legal challenge’ Until we have a change of Government this is the framework we have to operate within, stark realities I know, but that is where we are at, so apart from the people who simply say do not provide for any houses what are the alternatives?

    • Does your loss of 1.7% overall of our green belt equate to 1.7% loss of agriculture and the jobs, homes, way of life of farmers and farm tenants? While you claim not to have a five year housing land supply would be leaving us open to planning legal challenge, there IS more than a five year housing land supply in Skelmersdale. Isn’t it the case that affordable housing is more likely to be available in developed parts of Skelmersdale than on valuable top class agricultural land?

  4. It is not ‘my claim’ about the 5 year Housing supply as you say, if you don’t believe me, google ‘5 Year Housing Supply’ and not only will you be able to access HM Governments Guidance which spells out the requirements; you will also see a plethora of Planning Consultants offering their services to Developers to help them ‘challenge out of date Local Plans’ on the issue of the Local Plan Review, even though the current Plan still has 9 years to run, to rely upon it as it stands is not an option, not only do we now have to conduct 5 yearly reviews- we also have to fulfill the requirement within the revised NPPF that we need to plan strategically for a MINIMUM 15 year period. Affordable housing is now in ‘acute shortage’ in West Lancs which is a further driver for future planning, it was announced last week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the chances of young adults owning their own homes has halved in the last two decades and under 40 year olds cannot afford even starter homes. So you have to balance out the competing demands of our societies needs however difficult that is. How can it be fair that our next generation are deprived of the very same chances that we all enjoyed? To do nothing is not an option, however easy it may roll off the tongue, when it comes down to facts somebody has to actually do something.

    • Semantics? We all know it is not you personally, but you do refer to “us” and “we”, West Lancs. No mention in your reply of Skelmersdale? No mention of the local land that produces the local fresh food we all like to buy on the markets. More than half of the UK’s food and feed now comes from overseas. Doesn’t that bring shame on housing developers and planners who allow so many expensive new homes to be built, including those developers who claim that commitments to a %age of new homes being affordable make building less profitable for them?

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