By Tom Duffy
On his Website, the MP says that Sefton Council should reconsider the Local Plan and give local communities a far bigger role in drawing up a new version.
Bill Esterson said Sefton’s latest draft of the plan releases “far too much greenbelt to developers”. Sefton Council, he says, is in danger of allowing big business developers to build on great swathes of Sefton’s greenbelt with little or no benefit to local people.
Bill said: “My starting point is that we should not have any major development in the green belt. . . . . I have said from the start of this whole process that we need to protect the greenbelt. But I am afraid that Sefton’s latest draft of the Local Plan does not do that and in my opinion it does not benefit the people who live in Sefton Central.”
“As part of the consultation on the previous draft of the Local Plan, I, together with hundreds of constituents who also contacted me, submitted representations in which we called for the protection of the greenbelt and for the removal from the plan of a large number of houses which had been earmarked for greenbelt land. I am therefore very disappointed that instead of removing housing from the greenbelt, they have actually added to it.” ”In my view, this local plan is unfair. The plan, and the loss of greenbelt, disproportionately impacts communities in Sefton Central, in particular in East Sefton and in Formby.” The MP said Sefton should instead create a community-based taskforce which has responsibility for drawing up a plan which is in the interests of the community. Bill Esterson says: “The latest draft plan. . . …… meets the needs of big business developers, not local people……..we should be doing everything we can to protect our communities from developers whose aim is to make as much money as possible and who frankly are not interested in what happens to people living here now.”
“Local authorities are under pressure to release greenbelt to developers. But the key is to draw up a plan with the communities and those who live there instead of imposing a plan on them. A plan which has the consent of local people makes a lot of sense.”
“In Liverpool, the city council has come up with an excellent approach to the plan. They are in the process of pulling together a taskforce which is made up of residents, community groups, and councillors. I would strongly urge Sefton Council to follow Liverpool’s example when it comes to this issue.” ”I have written to Margaret Carney calling for Sefton to have a rethink. Sefton needs to look again at the figures. How much housing is needed here in Sefton? Campaigners point to Department for Communities and Local Government figures which they say show Sefton requiring a fraction of the new homes featured in the current plan.” ”Developers want to build on the greenbelt because they can make more money from building there. Homes built on the greenbelt are simply not going to be affordable to buy or rent as that’s not what the developers want to build.”
“So, a plan that relies on major building in the greenbelt is not going to help solve our housing needs but it is going to put pressure on roads, on drainage and on health services. Any plan needs to take local needs into account, which is a big reason for greater community involvement in drawing up the plan.” “The time has come to put existing communities first, to listen to the people living here now and to have a rethink about the local plan that protects the greenbelt. ”
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