Thank you to everyone who has been in touch with Cllr. Vida Wilson, Colin Baldwin and Gary Bennett since our latest news update started landing on doormats.
This followed our February Newsletter which revealed some of the counter proposals to the draft Local Plan and invited residents to sign up for email updates.
We've had several questions about the Green Belt from residents and, ahead of our next update, will answer those now:
Q: I keep hearing about the Local Plan. What is it? - Mrs E, Kingfisher Way
A: Since 2004, every council has been required, by law, to have a Local Plan. Wirral was one of just four in the whole country that failed to comply. This meant that instead of having land protected from development or listed for regeneration (as a Local Plan would provide), developers have been free to apply to build anything, anywhere. Their failure to produce a Local Plan was one of the reasons why Labour lost their majority in the Town Hall in 2019.
Q: Why is there talk of delaying the 'Local Plan'? - Mr P, Saughall Road
A: Because Green Belt was not protected by a Local Plan, Leverhulme Estates recognised that their best chance of building on it was to get planning permission BEFORE a Local Plan was introduced. However, their various planning applications were refused by Wirral's Planning Committee earlier this year.
This led to appeals by Leverhulme to the independent Planning Inspectorate. As a result, it has been revealed that the Town Hall agreed to delay hearings on the Local Plan, to allow the appeal by Leverhulme to be heard first, without the Local Plan in place.
Q: How does this affect Saughall Massie's Green Belt? - Miss K, Saughall Massie Road
A: We know that several developers have put in counter proposals to build on the Green Belt around Saughall Massie - including Taylor Wimpey (who have said that 180 houses can be built next to the Arrowe Brook, Diamond Farm and Acton Lane) and Russell Homes (who have said they can build 555 houses on land near Saughall Massie Road and Woodpecker Close).
Until these developers know if their counter proposals have been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, they (probably) won't go to the expense of preparing and submitting specific planning applications. If they do, Colin, Gary and Vida have pledged to let residents know.
Q: Labour says they now support the Green Belt - Mr D, Hoylake Road
Well, with a council election coming up, they would say that, wouldn't they! Remember:
- The Labour Councillors on the 'Cabinet' before 2019 voted to build the failed 'Golf Resort' on Green Belt at Hoylake
- They also secretly listed Saughall Massie's Green Belt for development of 974 houses
- They voted to build the fire station on Green Belt in spite of the work of Cllr. Chris Blakeley
- They delayed and dithered on the Local Plan
- And, as recently as two weeks ago, at a meeting of the Council's Planning Committee, Labour's Spokesman supported an application to build on former grazing land.
Q: So what are you doing about it? - (anonymous)
A: Well, as soon as Vida, Colin and Gary learned of these specific new threats, we delivered a leaflet to homes in the area. We have followed this up with our newsletter and, later this month, an email to everyone who has registered for updates.
Councillor Vida Wilson first became involved in local issues to fight to save Fender Farm from development, working with councillors Chris Blakeley, Lesley Rennie and Ian Lewis. Vida has a strong track record on this issue.
Following Vida's appointment last month to the Saughall Massie Conservation Area Society Committee, we've written to everyone in the village to let them know too.
As soon as the Planning Inspectorate rearrange their public hearings for the Local Plan, Vida, Colin and Gary will report back:
- on this website
- in letters/newsletters
- emails to residents
- to the 3,900 followers of our local Facebook page.
Q: What was the vote in the Town Hall about? - Mrs S, Acton Lane
A: At last Monday's meeting, all councillors voted to challenge the decision to delay the Local Plan hearings until the Leverhulme Appeal had been heard. However, during the meeting, it was revealed that the Labour-led Council had already agreed to the delay.
That means any letter the Council sends asking for Local Plan hearings will not carry as much as weight as we would have liked.
Q: But, in the meantime, our Green Belt is safe isn't it? - Mr B, Saughall Massie Lane
No. The draft Local Plan can be 'considered' by the Planning Committee but it won't carry as much weight until it is reviewed by the Planning Inspector and approved by Parliament.
In the meantime, any planning application must be considered 'on it's merits' by the Council. That's why we (Colin, Gary and Vida) are doing everything possible to oppose the threats to the Green Belt around Moreton and Saughall Massie.