Comments about the latest attack on local democracy in Aughton by housing developers show the feelings still held by the public and the local Residents Group. Previous attempts to develop cheaply on shovel ready agricultural land showed the appalling lack of support from elected ward members who live outside the ward. But local parties should nail their colours to the mast now.
“The proposal by Barrett/David Wilson Homes re the above to build 500 houses adjacent to Parrs Lane on Green Belt Land needs to be strangled at birth”. No argument with that!
“The developers have invited comments by way of a “Consultation” with local residents. We know from experience that this is merely a cosmetic exercise and it is highly unlikely to result in any meaningful alterations to their planning application when that is eventually put to WLBC”.
A) The proposed development lies in the Green Belt and no amount of obfuscation can avoid this.
B) The agricultural land in question is undoubtedly of the “Best and Most Versatile ” type and as such NPPF 2018 deems it to be primarily way down in the scale in sustainability for building on.
C) As recently (in planning terms) as 2013 WLBC confirmed that the Green Belt Boundary would rest at Parrs Lane and as we know a previous Pre Planning Submission at this site to WLBC under the banner of Aughton East was rejected. This was before NPPF 2018 which actually strengthened the case against such a proposal. Incidentally the revised NPPF seriously undermines the suitability of the Parrs Lane “safeguarded” sites and this must be reviewed as part of the New local plan and not be rolled forward without regarding current guidance and statuary policies.
D) The proposals include reference to the Plan “B ” sites on the opposite side of Parrs Lane on which other would-be developers wished to build approx 500 houses. This was rejected by WLBC, with the support of ARG who gave evidence at two appeals which the developers lost mainly because they were attempting to raise the issue of “exceptional circumstances” to try to force WLBC to grant permission on “Safeguarded Land” by way of build targets not being met.
E) The current Local Plan is believed to be delivering new houses at a rate which is comfortably in excess of those build targets and this is confidentally expected to be the case at the next review date in 2022. This clearly removes any special pleading from developers on these grounds.
F) It is acknowledged that the Local build targets likely to be imposed as a result of the National Review will result in WLBC actually LOWERING the targets that the current Local Plan is accounting for.
G) At a new target of 193 per annum over 15 years WLBC are likely to need 2895 new houses over that period .A proposal to build 1000 house on prime Agricultural Land in the Parrs Lane area would be completely unjustified and totally unbalanced taking up as it would over 30% of the total build target for the whole borough.
H) The local infrastructure including Schools and Roads are not capable of absorbing development on this scale .It is inappropriate and unsustainable regardless of the vague undertakings given by Barret/Wilson.
I) The Council is duty bound by National Policy to keep a record of brown-field sites and to encourage them to be developed for housing before any Greenfield Belt sites. The Parrs Lane sites clearly do not comply in this respect and it is reasonable to assume both brown-field and “windfall” developments will comfortably provide the undemanding new national targets during the term of a new Local Plan.
j) There is a specific referral in NPPF 2018 under the reference to the “Guide to assessing development proposals on Agricultural Land”. The guide states “LPA’s and developers should refer to relevant government policies and legislation when considering development proposals that effect agricultural land”.
Such policies “aim to protect BMV land and soils. There should be no SIGNIFICANT, INAPPROPRIATE and UNSUSTAINABLE development proposals”. In such cases Natural England will use these policies to advise on such development proposals as a Statutory Consultee”.
There is no doubt that any and all potential proposals at Parrs Lane will fall under this guidance and that WLBC will be obliged to consult with NE .Something they may be reluctant to do particularly as many far less contentious sites will no doubt emerge when “a call for sites “is made.
This, below, is the only use for the “Best and Most Versatile” agricultural land in Aughton. Who will stand up for it?