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Sefton Local Plan submission

CPRE Lancashire and CPRE Sefton District Group submit joint comments.

Both CPRE Lancashire Branch and Sefton District Group wish to support Sefton Council in the adoption of a Local Plan as soon as possible that adequately meets the Borough’s economic, social and environmental needs over the plan period with policies and land allocations that will best protect the countryside for the benefit of future generations. However, we believe there are aspects of the Publication Draft Local Plan (PDLP) which may be unlawful, and which could cause it to be found unsound, principally due to the proposals to develop Green Belt land contrary to the protections afforded by specific policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

We have reviewed all the Green Belt sites proposed for re-designation for residential or business development in the PDLP and, it each case for which we take a contrary view, we invoke the policies of the NPPF to give detailed justifications why the land should remain Green Belt. If the Examining Inspector were to agree with our conclusions for each of these sites, it would mean that, while it would be removed from the land supply, there would also be a corresponding downward adjustment to the Housing Target, so compliance with the 5-year housing land supply rule required by the NPPF would remain unchanged.

The encouraging news is that the Department for Communities and Local Government published its latest subnational household projections on the 27th February 2015 which provide 2012-based data to replace the 2011-based interim SNHP data. Household growth rates for Sefton are in the lowest category and lower than earlier projections; however, these figures have yet to be incorporated in the PDLP. We have been assured by the Council that, when it revises the PDLP, it will allow ample time for the public to comment on the updated document before it is sent to the inspector for the Examination in Public process.

We have highlighted that Best and Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land, viz. Grades 1, 2 and 3a, should be saved for the benefit of future generations.

CPRE thinks previously developed land (brownfield) be re-used in advance of needless countryside development. Sefton has considerable brownfield land, much assessed as suitable for housing. Elsewhere in Lancashire, planning authorities are focusing more effort on reusing Brownfield, and we are urging Sefton Council, to unlock the potential of brownfield land for future development.

The Branch and District Group also held a hustings event on the 19th March 2015 with all the parliamentary candidates for the Sefton Central constituency participating and there was unanimous support for the reuse of brownfield as a priority and for land with Green Belt designation to have continued protection. There was also unanimous support that the Local Plan should represent the ambitions of the local electorate.

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