Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 2, 2018

Don’t Fence Me In

Rosie Cooper  Labour, West Lancashire. “To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if the Government will set up a dedicated fund to support community groups that seek to challenge appeals by developers in relation to open and green spaces. Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 1 November 2018”.

Kit Malthouse  Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government). “The Government recognises that access to a network of open and green spaces is important for the health and well-being of communities, and the planning system highlights this in a number of ways. Our revised National Planning Policy Framework sets out that sufficient provision for the conservation and enhancement of green infrastructure should be included in strategic planning policies, the importance of green infrastructure in encouraging healthy lifestyles, and makes provision for communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them through the designation of land as Local Green Space through local and neighbourhood plans.

“The planning system acts as a control on an individual’s use of land and therefore it is right that they should have an impartial appeal against the refusal of planning permission. An independent Planning Inspector will give careful consideration to the planning merits of the case and take into account the views of the local planning authority and local residents before reaching a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal. Therefore any submissions made by community groups at the planning application stage will also be a matter for consideration at appeal”. You may take that as a “bugger off” for the dedicated fund Rosie Cooper asked for!

Housing Need. To paraphrase the song made famous by Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Willie Nelson “Oh, give me development land, lots of development land under starry skies above, don’t fence me in”.

OWLs  state “The new draft local plan simply extends the calculated trends in housing needs in a straight line to 2050 to reach almost 16,000 houses. In fact, only 212 houses per year are required to meet local need. However, the figures then add 1,100 houses that assume a Skelmersdale rail link has been built by 2027 even though the council’s own Sustainability Appraisal September 2018 states: “However, it has been concluded that there is currently no business case for this at present.”

“1,656 houses are then included for people brought to live and work in the large warehouses planned by the M58 even though there is sufficient land available for these warehouses across the Liverpool City Region and no guarantee at all that some of these warehouses would come to West Lancashire irrespective of whether they are desirable.

“3,496 new houses are then added to meet “unmet need” from Merseyside and particularly north Sefton from 2027. Yet, currently there is no unmet housing need anywhere in Merseyside and Sefton has a local plan to 2030, that’s three years after the date West Lancashire is supposed to start building houses in its green belt for Sefton!

“The Preferred Options document also plans 1000 extra bed spaces for Edge Hill, yet Edge Hill student numbers will be static at best, and likely fall. The housing numbers make no allowance for the c. 200 residential homes freed up as a result.


“The Council’s Sustainability Appraisal highlights that development within Skelmersdale has several advantages including plenty of open spaces and greenery, a good community spirit and a congestion free road system with excellent motorway connections. It is therefore logical to site most new development within the existing Skelmersdale development area without the loss of Green Belt Land.

“The Sustainability Appraisal identifies that air pollution from traffic around Ormskirk town centre is already a problem and that it will worsen if the new local plan goes ahead.

“National planning policy states that before proposing changes to Green Belt boundaries, the Council must demonstrate that it has examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development including making as much use as possible of suitable brownfield sites and having discussions with neighbouring councils.

“Background documents show that there is already enough suitable employment land available in the wider region (including 42 acres in Skelmersdale which has lain undeveloped for the past 13 years) to accommodate the large warehouses proposed without taking West Lancashire’s green belt. To do so would also impede regeneration in Merseyside.

“Furthermore, it is not ‘sustainable’ to remove green belt protection from more than 1500 acres in West Lancashire as early as 2020 to meet the possible housing need of north Sefton after 2030”.

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