The Battle For, Or Of, Aughton

We’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again. Aughton’s agricultural land to be plundered for housing development. Developers wanting to create an extra “village” in Aughton’s countryside. A “village” only the developers, and the landowners, want. 

And it comes with bribes galore. Talk of starter homes for young people as well as an elderly quarter and a dementia and end-of-life care facility. The developer David Wilson Homes says there are wider benefits to the plan including the possible creation of a country park and an extension to Town Green Primary School which would give it two new sports fields.

 But as it happens the local campaigners are ready, focussed, to fight its inclusion in any new local plan. It must be in the Aughton blood. It’s a natural reaction to want farming on farm land, on the finest class of agricultural land.

 MP Rosie Cooper has already indicated she will back efforts to block development on the site. Perhaps like the residents she has an aversion to these filthy rich companies seeking to impose their will on them.

DWH hasn’t lodged a planning application. It has launched a website showcasing its plans which it hopes could be included in the council’s next Local Plan. Locals think otherwise.

The plan is not likely to be adopted until December 2023 and will outline which areas of land are to be developed and for which purposes. DWH wants its proposed site, from near Moor Hall across land bordered by Prescot Road, Parrs Lane and Maltkiln Lane, to be included in the Local Plan, removing the obstacles which currently prevent it from being developed for housing.

DWH know it will face strong and vocal opposition. Down at the Old Cock & Bull,

Aughton Parish Council, they are monitoring developments. But from previous experience they will be insignificant. And the Aughton Residents Group (ARG) has already informed DWH of its objection to any such proposal.

Rosie Cooper suggests “Should the development proceed to a full planning application, I will be supporting local residents in opposition and calling for the council to adhere to their Local Plan, which clearly gives no indication that this land should be used for housing. The council have already had to take legal action to defend its local plan and I would hope they do all they can to resist these predatory applications”.

The ARG group leader Colin Atkinson has spoken against developments in front of the council’s planning committee and at a subsequent public inquiry. He’s given feedback directly to DWH and urged residents against such a developer to make their feelings known as well.

In the group’s response to the proposals, it says it is against the development for reasons including the use of Greenbelt and high quality agricultural land and reducing housebuilding target.

They accused DWH bringing distress and uncertainty to residents of this area of Aughton who have endured years of battling against unwelcome and unnecessary profit driven housing schemes which take little or no heed of local views or the irreparable damage done to or loss of precious greenbelt.

The developer argues that the council has a shortfall against its target for building homes due to focusing on areas of low demand. It says new family and affordable homes are required to ensure that there is a labour force which can drive economic growth, rather than forcing young people to leave the area in order to find a home they can buy.

It claims its plans could lead to better drainage infrastructure in surrounding areas which are prone to flooding and road safety improvements at the school. This is bullshit. Developers improving drainage would be a first. The County that can’t interest itself in drainage is hardly likely to suddenly provide it in Aughton just because DWH is in town?

From Sam Stafford, Regional Strategic Land Director for DWH, “We are at the initial stages of promoting a potential new development in Aughton on a site that we believe is worthy of consideration by West Lancashire Borough Council for its new Local Plan.

“There will be many advantages to this scheme, including providing affordable homes for local people, a possible extension to the local primary school, an “Elderly Quarter” which could offer a wide range of accommodation to meet the needs of older residents, along with the potential for a country park”.

What IS worthy on the site is crops, crops, crops! Food, food, food! It’s what farmland is for. Now, DWH, take the advice of one elderly resident and bugger off!

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