A “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance” – What is ACTUALLY in the “leaked” document which is supposed to show that Green Belt sites are “safe”?
You may have seen recent reports in the Liverpool Echo that “leaked” documents show that 20 Wirral Green Belt sites will be “saved” from developers.
We have now been passed a copy of that “leaked” report and, unfortunately, it DOES NOT show that ANY Green Belt sites are safe.
We understand that on 12th November 2018 there was a meeting between Wirral Council’s (Labour) Cabinet and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). This was a technical briefing by Council Officers about the Local Plan to explain how sites in the Green Belt Review would be ranked against criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
However, at that meeting, the Cabinet Members indicated their “POLITICAL PREFERENCES” for the Green belt sites that they wished to save (rejected) and those that they preferred to be developed (accepted).
One week later, on the 19th November 2018, the Cabinet and the SLT met again and a “Local Plan Progress Update” document was presented which listed the Cabinet’s agreed POLITICAL preferences. This is the document that was leaked to the press.
The Cabinet Members should have known that POLITICAL preferences CAN NOT decide which sites can be released for development and which can be “saved”. Sites can only be released for development following a thorough TECHNICAL ASESSMENT in accordance with Green Belt Criteria and Guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Sites can ONLY be released after due process when the public consultation process has been completed and they have been included in the adopted Local Plan.
Wirral’s Local Plan is not due to be formally adopted until the end of 2020. The public consultation process is still on-going. The deadline for the consultation on the “Sustainability Appraisal and Equalities Impact Assessment” is Wednesday 8 May 2019.
For the Government Local Plan Inspector to accept that the Local Plan is “sound”, it must be “positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the NPPF. Sites chosen by “Political Preference” would NOT stand up to scrutiny by the Local Plan Inspector and a Local Plan prepared on this basis would be found to be “un-sound”.
Therefore the “leaked” document CAN NOT and DOES NOT show which sites have been “saved” from Developers.
Following the Echo Article, the Chief Executive of the Council issued a statement which said:
“Wirral Local Plan process remains ongoing. The full list of Green Belt sites identified for potential release was agreed at Cabinet in July 2018. This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. Any decision to amend the list of sites will be taken by Wirral’s Full Council in due course. We actively encourage all consultees and residents to take part in future consultations on the Local Plan.”
The Echo then amended their article.
It must be made clear that absolutely NO DECISION HAS BEEN TAKEN ABOUT ANY OF THE GREEN BELT SITES
Furthermore, Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member Phillip Brightmore is distributing leaflets in his Pensby and Thingwall Ward where he is standing for re-election in the Wirral’s most marginal seat. His leaflet refers to the “leaked” document and he infers that sites have been “rejected” because of his campaigning.
Not only are the sites that he refers to POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY ( which cannot influence the Local Plan ) but Councillor Brightmore is simply incorrect when he states that the “leaked” document reveals that all the “all the Green belt sites in Pensby, Thingwall, Irby, Heswall and Greasby were recommended for rejection”.
Indeed, the leaked document shows that some sites in Greasby / Franky and Irby Ward, Heswall and Pensby and Thingwall Ward HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ACCEPTED by the Cabinet as preferred sites to be released for development.
One of the largest sites to be “Accepted” for development by the Cabinet (of which Councillor Brightmore is a member”) is the site East of Pensby which is in his own ward. The site termed “East of Pensby” is suitable for 1705 houses.
We can reveal that the following sites were listed in the “leaked” document as the Labour Cabinet’s POLITICAL PREFERENCE for sites to be ACCEPTED for release to developers for house building.
South of Peter Prices Lane Bebington 265 houses
East of Poulton Rd Clatterbridge 213 houses
West of Blakely Road, Raby Clatterbridge 50 houses
West of Raby Hall Clatterbridge 43 houses
West of Plymyard Dale Clatterbridge 834 houses
South of Mill Park Eastham 307 houses
West of Rivacre Road Eastham 592 houses
East of Ferry Road Eastham 29 houses
St David’s Road Eastham 32 houses
East of Rigby Drive Greasby / Frankby / Irby 311 houses
North of Whitehouse Lane Heswall 71 houses
Chester High Rd, Gayton Heswall 281 houses
13 Acres Rd, Meols Hoylake & Meols 8 houses
North of Greasby Rd Moreton / Saughall Massie 682 houses
Garden Hey Nursery Moreton / Saughall Massie 27 houses
North of Barnacre Lane Moreton / Saughall Massie 25 houses
North of Saughall Massie Moreton / Saughall Massie
East of Garden Hey Road Moreton / Saughall Massie 47 houses
East of Pensby Pensby and Thingwall 1705 houses
West of Weybourne Close Upton 47 houses
West of Column Rd West Kirby 267 houses
North of Poulton Hall Rd Clatterbridge 939 houses
West of Dibbinsdale Rd Clatterbridge 341 houses
We must reiterate that these sites are the POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY of the Labour Cabinet and may not bear any resemblance to the sites which may or may not be released when the Local Plan is adopted following due process, consultation and technical assessment.
However, THE LEAKED DOCUMENT MAKES A MOCKERY OF LABOURS CLAIM TO WANT A “BROWNFIELD FIRST” POLICY. THE LEAKED DOCUMENT SHOWS THAT WIRRAL’S LABOUR CABINET HAVE AGREED A PREFERENCE TO BUILD MORE THAN 6000 HOUSES ON THE GREEN BELT.
Interestingly, many of the sites which the “leak” showed had supposedly been saved were in the areas around some of the most marginal wards, where the current Councillors are in danger of losing their seats.
The “Wirralleaks” website has described the leak as a “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance”.
This “fake news” was leaked by someone, just a few weeks before the local elections – you can make your own judgement as to who you think may have made the “leak” and why!
Please share this information to all your friends family and neighbours and ensure that when they vote in the upcoming local elections they are fully aware that, despite what Councillor Phillip Brightmore and others are saying, Green Belt sites on the Wirral HAVE NOT BEEN SAVED!…