Local Plan Options Cause Unnecessary Stress & Disruption

“Dave of Aughton Residents Group” writes  to the Champion that “The Preferred Options Paper states that the minimum housing level to meet West Lancashire’s needs from 2012 – 2050 is a total of 9,736. It then adds on a further 6,256 dwellings because ‘there may well be unmet housing needs arising in Sefton beyond their current Local Plan (post-2030)’ This would mean West Lancashire building an extra 64 per cent of dwellings above and beyond our own communities needs. And remember it’s mainly on prime productive agricultural land.

“I find this a bit strange because Sefton’s Local Plan only adopted in 2017 and running until 2030 indicates they have already have more than sufficient sites, in fact have spare capacity in Safeguarded land. It is also worth noting that Sefton have on average around 4,000 empty properties that should be the priority to meet any future needs.

“At the November Aughton Parish Council meeting when asked if there had been a documented request from Sefton for West Lancashire to meet their shortfall, Councillor Hodson, confirmed there had not.

“He would not, or could not, provide any written evidence to support the need for the additional 6,256 dwellings. Asked why he was prepared to cause so much unnecessary stress and disruption to his constituents on what appears to be a speculative and over ambitious desire to turn swathes of West Lancashire’s Greenbelt into housing estates, he basically said it’s all complex and strategic. [No attempt to define complex and strategic for the benefit of the public!]

“It seems that a major factor in wanting a new Local Plan that extends to 2050 is to justify including Sefton’s possible needs that will not arise until the 30s & 40s. It’s worth pointing out that if these proposals are implemented in a new Local Plan all the sites will be out of the Greenbelt and become immediate targets in an “open season” for developers.

“I feel Councillor Hodson believes in the Preferred Options but it seems that in the their desire to be seen to be progressive strategic partners with the Liverpool City Region, our Borough Council have lost sight of to whom they owe their true allegiance, namely the current residents of West Lancashire”.

Dave of ARG might also have argued against the concept of the Ormskirk and Aughton settlement now prevalent in the mindset of WLBC. It is referred to in page 4  of the Labour glossy leaflet as “The development needs identified in the 30 year New Local Plan for Ormskirk and Aughton will be the same needs that would have to be addressed over 2-3 shorter term local plans spanning the same 40 year time frame and a 30 year plan is best placed to protect the green belt”.

Phrases like “sensible strategic planning”, “best outcomes”, “sympathetically developed”, “paced out over the next 30 years”, spill out of this leaflet like confetti. It just doesn’t seem sensible, best, sympathetic, or paced out, to me. It seems more like a developers’ paradise. And what are fields other than “shovel-ready” sites? As the CPRE states “Green Belt land is some of the most profitable for developers to build on due to it being ‘shovel ready’, surrounded by countryside and within commuting distance to major towns and cities making its release for development extremely desirable for house builders. This leaves councils to foot the bill for resulting infrastructure requirements, such as schools, shops and roads”.

CPRE reports, August 2018, that “Overall there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that is set to be released from the Green Belt, of which 78% would be unaffordable by the Government’s definition”. How many affordable and to whom in Aughton? Ask the Parish Council, who pay to be a CPRE member !

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