Green Belt Review


Pip : Green Man or a threat to the Green Belt?

We are pleased to publish a letter from The Prof an extract from the introduction to his brilliantly researched Wirral Green Belt Review 2018 explaining why Wirral residents need to wake up and take action against threats to Wirral’s Green Belt. It would appear that there is a growing realisation that that threat lies closer to home and that the approved narrative from Wirral Council that the villains are the Peel Group and bullying bureaucrats from central Government simply doesn’t stack up – especially in the light of the proposals for the Hoylake Golf Resort.

So instead of bogus consultation meetings and political point scoring in the local newspapers Professor David Gregg (‘The Prof’)  is kindly providing facts and figures and a cogent argument as to why local activists need to be informed and get involved to protect the Green Belt. Although his analysis is about the impact of housing development at Poulton Lancelyn it serves as an excellent template for Green Belt activists . If anyone would like a free e copy of The Prof’s book get in touch with us :

Hello! Now the time scale for green belt site assessment against the national and local development criteria has been slashed to zero it is essential that local action groups make and submit their own analyses to the planning process.

As I mentioned I have done this for site 1984 at Poulton Lancelyn. I have published and am now circulating this independent report to locals, councillors, Alison McGovern and various heritage, wildlife and countryside activist groups. On several key grounds the aim to ‘fill in’ the whole GB land area east of the M53 from Prenton, south to Raby Mere is very damaging and totally unjustified on the Council’s own criteria. Somebody has gone insane. My local group will be gearing up action over the next few weeks but I thought you might like to see the report now. I am providing e copies free to any local Wirral residents affected.

                                                                          The Prof.

A Strategic Housing Land Availability Study is being undertaken by Wirral Council as part of the generation of the Core Strategy Local Plan to be submitted to the DCLG Secretary of State. Part of this process involves identifying sites within the Green Belt to be made ‘available’ by landowners and developers for housing development and their subsequent ‘release’. The NPPF of 2012 requires local authorities to boost housing supply and this has recently (March 2018) been reinforced by the Prime Minister in the new draft NPPF proposals. Fifteen councils were singled out for condemnation by the then Secretary of State for failing to define a Local Plan and deliver an adequate level of new housing. Wirral is one of these councils. Secretary Sajid Javid has recently said of Wirral

‘In the 13 years that have passed since the 2004 Act was introduced your council has failed to meet the deadlines set out in that timetable.’

The threatened consequence is direct government intervention in the housing development process. The last Local Plan was written in 2000. The policy on Green Belt in the draft 2018 NPPF remains essentially unchanged (3). However there will be increasing pressure to build on Green Belt land which is why the listing of ‘available’ sites for development in the Wirral is important. If a site is not on the list it will not be considered, given the long list of ‘available’ sites in total (~110). The aim of local resident groups at this stage should be to prevent and protest local site listing and then ‘release’ for development. The question of redefining the Green Belt and building on green belt land sites appears to have arisen because of ‘land banking’ by developers in other Wirral areas. Council leader Phil Davies informed Secretary Sajid Javid in an official letter (31.01.18) that

‘Planning permission is currently in place for 16,098 new homes including 2,577 on existing urban and previously developed sites and up to 13,521 dwellings at …Wirral Waters…
The Council’s current SHLAA to April 2017 shows potential for a further 4,531 dwellings, subject to viability…’

At an intended target rate of house building of around 800 per annum the above implies we have a 26 year supply in hand. In addition ~6,000 existing houses are claimed to be lying empty.

According to Cllr. Davies, progress on ‘housing led regeneration has been hindered’ by the cut back in Conservative central government funding. Given this background the pressure to release and build on Green Belt land must seem obscure to the ordinary Wirral resident (but read on). The unfortunate attitude of some local councillors appears to be that until a landowner or developer makes a planning application residents can go back to sleep. This presumably reflects a complacent view of current ‘national’ policy.

‘National policy states that Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances through the preparation or review of the Local Plan and that inappropriate development in the Green Belt should not be approved except in very special circumstances.’

But a new Local Plan is being written and ~110 Green Belt sites have been put forward by ‘landowners and developers’ including site 1984 ; GB parcel SPO42, adjacent to Colmore Avenue and Poulton Green Close and further south to a point near Lancelyn Farm. If all these Green Belt sites are ‘safe’ why have so many landowners put them forward formally, as available for development ? Is this simple land speculation or prior knowledge? Also, very special circumstances are with us: an alleged national shortage of ‘affordable’ housing and the government’s desire for some major political ‘virtue signaling’…

5 thoughts on “Green Belt Review

  1. To add to the Prof’s excellent summary is the change to the procedure for greenbelt boundary review contained within the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF2), published 24 July 2018. The NPPF2 paragraph 136 (formerly paragraph 83) states: “Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans”. This new requirement for exceptional circumstances to be “fully evidenced and justified” reaffirms the Government’s support for the preservation of the greenbelt.

    NPPF2 paragraph 137 establishes new tests: “Before concluding that exceptional circumstances exist to justify changes to Green Belt boundaries, the strategic policy-making authority [this might be the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority or it could be Wirral alone] should be able to demonstrate that it has examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development. This will be assessed through the examination of its strategic policies [by a Planning Inspector during the Local Plan inquiry], which will take into account the preceding paragraph, and whether the strategy:

    a) makes as much use as possible of suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land;
    b) optimises the density of development in line with the policies of chapter 11 of this Framework, including whether policies promote a significant uplift in minimum density standards in town and city centres and other locations well served by public transport; and
    c) has been informed by discussions with neighbouring authorities about whether they could accommodate some of the identified need for development, as demonstrated through the statement of common ground.”

    So, to protect the greenbelt, it may be necessary to increase development density in existing urban areas (building further upwards, basically). More residential development is needed in Birkenhead and Wallasey, where most of the redundant brownfield land is located. There needs to be a wholesale review of the siting of employment and light industrial land to maximise the opportunities for residential development in areas adjacent to the docks. In fact, the current draft Local Plan has policies for exactly this – calling them ‘satellite communities’ that would be encouraged to grow up around the Wirral Waters site.

    According to the initial application of the Government’s new housing supply/demand methodology, Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Borough Council need to identify more housing land, whereas Wirral and Sefton need to identify less. This may well have changed now that Peel Ports has stated that it will only be building a fraction of the dwellings it has received planning permission for. Nevertheless, there is still a significant opportunity for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to assess how constituent authorities that need to identify more land could assist those with an overprovision or relevant restrictions (i.e. greenbelt preservation) by assimilating some of this demand into their own supply figures.

    In addition to fighting individual proposals, civil society groups should be preparing their evidence for the Local Plan inquiry and would be well-advised to prepare their evidence with NPPF2 paragraphs 136-138 in mind.

  2. Re: Council Leader Phil “BIG BOY” Davies’ monster WIRRAL GROWTH 30 foot phallus. The beast that no-one has yet “envisioned”……

    Apparently, it’s a fat, coiled python with a brace of whopping, hairy basketballs that he’s been bragging about on dodgy, amateur videos and in the Echo and the Globe for years. The one he keeps threatening to unzip, hoist aloft with both arms, swing around his head in public, whooping, knocking OAPs over and sending frightened children scattering……

    Has the liar been approached unawares, pounced upon from behind and de-bagged yet ?

    Has he been pinned down, struggling, red-faced, veins popping, glasses steamed up, with a knee on his throat and the mystery “billion pound equipment” fished out of his string Y-fronts, then exposed under a magnifying glass as a trifling, flaccid, withered, two-inch, two-bit micro-entity?

    I think we should be told, before the truth leaks out.

  3. G’day Bartie

    Sorry can’t bring myself to call you by your first name it is far too close to that orrible Fucking Liar from west Kirby.

    Do you think the punters from his seat in Tranmereidre or BirkenBloodyHell give a shit about building golf resorts with opulent building sites on green belts in Daviesland.

    He makes them think its all Thatchers fault and shits all over them.



    Get some new honest faces in for a few years and then change them again before they become fat greedy pigs like Jones Jones Davies Davies Williamson Doughty.

    If they were as honest and decent as they are fat it might be a better place in the Clown Hall.

    Bart and Leakie Help keep up the great work XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  4. Two excellent writings by Professor Gregg and Philip Barton which need to be widely publicised amongst the thinking residents of the Wirral.
    Unless we make a firm stand against the shenanigans of this appalling council, the developers will have a profitable field day, Davies his beloved Hoylake golf course and the residents a significant loss of the green areas on our peninsular.

    I doubt the two pieces will be featured in the Wirral Globe or Liverpool Echo which seem very much the mouthpieces of the council.
    Did you see the recent feature in the Echo on line with no less than seven of the futuristic artist impressions of the wonderful developments coming our way? Backed up of course by the usual photograph of Councillor Davies who likes to impose himself to the forefront of all this claptrap.

    I encourage all my friends and acquaintances to log on to Wirral Leaks and read the truth behind the propaganda pouring out from Wallasey Town Hall.

  5. Having recently attended a meeting at the Greasby Community Centre, I realised that we are in the grip of inscrutable, self serving councillors, who are now frantically ‘fast tracking’ a Wirral Local Plan, which bears no comparison with reality and the needs of Wirral’s residents, and whilst lookIng for more informed opinion I stumbled across your very interesting site which will be required reading from now on.
    Keep it up.

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