Did you know that the WLBC Strategic Planning & Implementation Team is working closely with their peers in Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester in order to deliver “joined-up” cross-border planning on many issues that are not restricted by Local Authority boundaries. This also helps to fulfil the Duty to Co-operate introduced by the Localism Act 2011″.
And, “The Strategic Planning & Implementation Team will also continue to liaise closely with a wide range of infrastructure providers to ensure that development is located where infrastructure is already provided or to consider how infrastructure can be provided over the Local Plan period to meet the needs created by development in the Local Plan”. Oh yippee!
The Aughton Residents Group 2012 (ARG) has published details of the impending Aughton Parish Council meeting on 12 November 2018 which WLBC Cllr John Hodson (Planning Portfolio Holder) will attend.
They write “You should have seen articles in the Local Newspapers regarding our Group’s opposition to the Emerging Local Plan Preferred options paper. As part of our previously outlined strategy and prior to our submitting Group representations, it is our Committee’s intention to attend the Aughton Parish Council meeting at the Village Hall , Winifred Lane, Aughton on Monday 12 November 2018.
“WLBC Cllr John Hodson (Planning Portfolio Holder) has accepted an invitation to attend the meeting and will be available to answer questions regarding the local plan during an extended Public Question Time. This might be your best or only chance to hear at first hand what WLBC plans for the future of Aughton and help you formulate any representations for the consultation process.
“There is a limited seating capacity at the hall so we suggest you get there in good time for the meeting which opens at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start”.
Colin Atkinson seen speaking in a previous local plan meeting, the Chairman of the Aughton Residents Group (2012), has said that the group feel they have been misled and betrayed after West Lancashire Borough Council announced it is looking to bring in a new local Plan stretching to 2050. The Group are still finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that whilst they were celebrating the Borough Councils successful rebuttal of developers’ attempts to usurp the current Local Plan, it has now become clear that behind the closed doors of the Borough’s Planning Department, key politicians and Senior Planning Officers were colluding to deliver housing developers a bonanza beyond their wildest expectations.
Throughout the last few years developers have tried to get around the Local Plan and build houses on the agricultural land to the north of Parrs Lane Aughton. The local residents were delighted when the Council decided to fight these unwarranted challenges. A great deal of time, effort, resources and yes, money was spent fighting the developers through appeals, Planning Inspectors’ Hearings and even in the Civil Courts. Aughton Residents Group themselves supported the council at each of these stages. Finally on 22 March 2018, following the latest hearing, the Planning Inspectorate found in favour of WLBC and dismissed the two Developers’ Appeals.
With the Council fending off these two ‘rogue’ Appeals, the residents were led to believe that this ‘best and most versatile’ farm land was safe from further attempts at development for at least another 5 -10 years. Just to remind people the developers wanted to build around four hundred houses.
What residents did not know was that at the same time the Council was fighting against the developers applications they were planning to hand over an area of agricultural land about four times larger than the Parrs Lane ‘sites’. The new proposals earmarked the farm land running between Prescot Road/ Parrs Lane/Scarth Hill Lane and the railway line for 2,000 dwellings.
On top of this there is to be a 1,000 student campus and a ‘Technology Park’ alongside St. Helens Road. The scale of these plans alone should signal to everyone that this is no longer just about a few thousand people in Aughton feeling their area is being ruined. This will effect not just Aughton but also Ormskirk and the wider area. Furthermore everyone living in West Lancashire should sit up and pay attention to what the Borough Council is planning for our wider area.
The proposed new Local Plan projects a total housing commitment of around 16,000 houses to be built in the Borough, most of it on farm land. In addition further large sections of farm land has been earmarked for ‘employment’ developments. The 16,000 houses target is not intended to meet the housing needs of the Borough, the council’s housing and population growth projections are much lower, and the current plan does that.
But it is to attract in massive additional people from outside the area, such as Sefton and Liverpool. To put this into perspective, 16,000 new homes will not only use up a lot of our best and most versatile agricultural land, it will bring in massive additional pressures on our roads, our services and the infrastructure in general.
Some rough estimates of what 16,000 new homes could mean: Around 20-30 thousand more adults needing doctors, dentists, NHS and Welfare services. Around 15-25 thousand more young people needing schools and NHS services Around 20-30 thousand more vehicles, many ‘commuting’ along our already congested main roads and creating even more ‘rat runs’.
The council’s current Local Plan runs until 2027 and has been demonstrated at various stages, including formal review points, Appeal Hearings and even in the Civil Courts, to be meeting the housing needs of the Borough. You only have to drive around the Borough and see various large scale developments are well on the way to delivering the housing targets. So you have to ask why the council has decided to introduce a new 30 year plan less than half way through an effective plan.
Monday 12 November 2018, 7.15pm, Village Hall Winifred Lane, Aughton, be there!