Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 15, 2018

The Lonely Path To A New Local Plan

Is Cllr John Hodson  the sole salesman of the proposed new Local Plan? He resumed his “roadshow” regime last night in Lathom South Parish Council , which he describes as being packed out and lively.

The parish council has previously published its own information for residents, copied below.

“Local Plan “Preferred Options” Consultation. This consultation will run from 12th October to 13th December (9 weeks). There has been a hostile reaction to the proposals for employment and housing development land contained in this document. Since such developments would change completely the character of this Parish and a large part of Bickerstaffe Parish, such a reaction was highly predictable but the Borough Council has chosen to plough on, regardless.

“The Borough’s planners are putting forward tired old proposals, dating back at least to the turn of the century, for regenerating Skelmersdale. Again they want to develop large warehouses and “executive” housing. The town remains a “regeneration priority area” because this approach has failed.

“We think that it has escaped the notice of planners and (Labour) politicians alike that warehouses are undergoing massive automation and that locating development in unsustainable locations close to, but not part of, Skelmersdale is more likely to increase commuting by car to Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington than to improve Skelmersdale.

“The Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which is one of the Council’s base supporting documents, does not even consider major development in the areas proposed. Moreover, they do not even come into the settlement hierarchy which formed the basis of the Sustainability Study.

“It seems that the protection of best and most versatile farmland and the Green Belt would be sacrificed on the altar of an economic gamble which includes the relocation of thousands of Merseyside residents to West Lancashire. The very long plan period, coupled with excessive forecasts of need, is at the root of the problem. This situation is self-inflicted because this is supposed to be a “Review” of the current Local Plan, not a completely new Local Plan lasting thirty years. There will be at least six General Elections and five more Local Plan Reviews before 2050!

“It is claimed by the proponents of this approach that it will lead to greater certainty but it will not. A major problem with the council’s approach is that local plans have a ratchet effect, so anything approved under this new plan – it is not a review – will lead to more and more land being allocated for development. All it will do, if adopted therefore, is set a minimum number of houses and warehouses to be developed by 2050. It will set off a race among developers to get the most profitable sites and develop them as soon as possible, without any time constraints. It is no accident that the plan makes no provision for infrastructure improvements. The planners and their political bosses want to leave such questions to “masterplans” and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). However, that would leave the provision, or non-provision, of essential facilities to the planners themselves and whichever political party happens to be in power at the time – a kind of “pig in a poke” .

“Then the developers will pick and choose from documents written in vague language and the planners will support them. There is no appeal process against successful planning applications. Five yearly reviews of Local Plans will pave the way for yet more releases of farmland for development. Residents’ only certainty will be a kind of gold rush for land, with ordinary residents trampled in the rush. Printed copies of the Plan document are available to buy from the Council Office in Ormskirk. They cost £5 but save reading such a long document on screen. Cash is not accepted for payment.

“It follows that we believe this draft to be seriously flawed and your Parish Council will respond in detail to the consultation. If you are able to, you should do the same but please take the trouble to read the document, even though it is long, and respond with your own comments.

“1. The need for the best and most versatile farmland to remain productive,
2. For the policies in the adopted Local Plan with regard to the settlement hierarchy (Policy SP1) to be retained and
3. Para 4.31 of the current Local Plan states protection of local Green Belt land (Par 4.31 “concerns that releasing Green Belt land on the edge of Skelmersdale would undermine the regeneration of the existing town”)
4. Make this a proper Review of that the current adopted Plan, 2012 to 2027, extending it by only five to eight years, rather than by twenty three years. The main reason for this is that currently there is huge uncertainty about the future and there is no consistency of planning periods across boroughs in the Liverpool City Region”.


  1. I’d actually have more respect for a snake oil salesman than Hodson.

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