Wirral Leader’s Refusal to Consider Green Belt Sites Led to Local Plan Intervention

Place Northwest  letter here

“There has been a consistent failure to produce a Local Plan since the last Plan was adopted in 2000. The council has failed to meet milestones in published Local Development Schemes at least six times since 2004,” Javid said.

Wirral’s defence was that plan-making had been delayed by the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies and withdrawal of Government funding, but highlighted progress in that the council was forming part of the Liverpool City Region’s Single Spatial Plan.

However, Javid replied: “These do not appear to be exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are not unique to Wirral.

“Enabling development in the short-term without a plan is not a justification for failure to produce a plan as this undermines the plan-led system, and many other councils have prepared a Local Plan from existing budgets.

“The Council has recently proposed a revised publication date of
September 2019 a delay of some further 18 months.”

“There are no exceptional circumstances to justify why your council has made such little progress over the years… there is no justification for the length of time your council is proposing to take on further evidence gathering.”

The delay to 2019 was incredibly set in Feb 2017

“Let me be clear, this Council will seek to meet its obligations and provide the homes needed to meet our economic growth ambitions; improve the quality of housing on offer for residents; and meet the needs of our most vulnerable people to enable them to live independently.

“We will achieve this by identifying all possible options for building new homes on existing sites and development locations. This administration is committed to not building on Wirral’s Green Belt.

Councillor Davies informed that the results of consultation had not identified any significant additional development opportunities to meet the likely identified need for new housing, over and above the sites already included in the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, the report recommended that officers be authorised to undertake and consult upon a wider review of potential development options, that would not, at this stage, commit the Council to any future land releases but would enable it to more precisely determine the environmental and other constraints that may apply to any future development sites, including land in the Green Belt designated in the Council’s existing Unitary Development Plan.

This was not a search for further evidence.  The Council had a full SHLAA and a Green Belt review, it was an attempt to kick the issue into the long grass until after the elctions.

You could of course argue that if Peel Waters was in public hands and not the hands of Britain’s worst (and slowest) developer Peel Holdings there would be no need for Green belt release at all.

At the same time Wirral is proposing 150 @executive Homes’ to fund development of its municipal golf course as a ‘resort’ you couldn’t make it up.