It’s not often we hear about use of The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, in respect of Sefton Council…yawn!
But suddenly, in cocktail hour in many of the homes of the opponents of the WLBC Local Plan, we have had an important document thrust upon us. The WLBC Chief Executive, no less, has decided that the “Local Plan Review Preferred Options – Initial Feedback”must be noted.
Unmet housing needs, Sefton Council, Green Belt boundaries
She writes “The matter is likely to be the subject of a key decision, which has not been included on the Forward Plan and the general exception procedure set out at rule 15 of the Constitution cannot be followed. In accordance with rule 16 of the Constitution the Leader has obtained the agreement of the Chairman of the Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committee and this notice setting out the reasons that the decision is urgent and cannot reasonably be deferred is being made available on the Council’s website and at the offices of the Council.
“The reasons that the decision is urgent and cannot reasonably be deferred is that the Local Development Scheme, setting out the timetable for the preparation of the Local Plan Review, expects a Publication version of the new Local Plan to be put before Cabinet in June 2019. Given that, after the 12 March meeting, there is no Cabinet meeting scheduled until 11 June, this item needs to be urgently brought before Cabinet to enable Cabinet to provide a decision on the options for meeting unmet housing need arising from Sefton in the new Local Plan. This matter is one that is central to setting a housing requirement for the new Local Plan, which in turn affects what sites should be allocated, how Green Belt boundaries should be amended and a number of other policies. Therefore, in order to be able to prepare a Publication version of the Local Plan by June, officers need the input of Cabinet at the 12 March meeting”.
Bombshell or nutshell?
In a nutshell, as a 9 page email letter from the Sefton Council Interim Head of Economic Growth and Housing, dated 11th December 2018 to John Harrison, Director of Development and Regeneration West Lancashire Borough Council, must be “Cabinet should be aware of the representation of Sefton Council to the Local Plan Review Preferred Options consultation (attached at Appendix A for ease), and in particular their comments on their estimated unmet housing need from 2035, which would be as follows: • 2035-2040 – 500 dwellings from Southport • 2040-2050 – 1,000 dwellings from Southport • 2040-2050 – 500 dwellings from Formby…”
And readers will surely dwell on “8. Overview A number of specific issues have been identified above where further cross-boundary cooperation is required and where the desired outcomes for Sefton may include changes to the emerging West Lancashire Local Plan. These include housing, employment land, transport, energy, air quality and ecological issues, and we would want to work positively and proactively with you on all of these as your plan progresses. More generally, Sefton Council looks forward to maintaining effective co-operation with West Lancashire as part of the on-going cooperation with its neighbouring authorities including West Lancashire and authorities in the Liverpool City Region.
As the Western Parishes are the target of such thoughts, we might assume Halsall readers and its parish council might be incensed enough to approach none other then the WLBC Chairman of Planning who is, yes you’ve guessed it, the Halsall elected member Cllr Maureen Mills. Who would want to be around when that happened?