We support the concept of garden villages to ensure new development is planned, but in practice we fear the Halsnead 174 hectare site in its semi-rural setting will hamper the regeneration of more centrally located urban previously developed (brownfield) land.
The masterplan must do all it can to bring about development sensitive to the surroundings, with adequate infrastructure to ensure it is as ‘sustainable’ as possible in the future.
It is worth highlighting that during the consultation stages of the Core Strategy, adopted in January 2016, CPRE Lancashire objected to the release of this land from Green Belt designation as we believed exceptional circumstances were not demonstrated. This was due to highly ambitious growth assumptions used in the jobs and housing need calculations. Furthermore if the land covered by Policy SUE2c is released for development we think it ought to be phased for later in the plan period, to ensure everything possible is done to deliver new homes on existing vacant and underused previously developed land before countryside is bulldozed. In the Liverpool City Region, Knowlsey is second to Liverpool in terms of the largest amount of vacant and underused brownfield land (213 hectares latest National Land Use Database figure).
We have highlighted to Government that there is a real contradiction in its National Planning Policy Framework, as on the one hand it promises to protect Green Belt land, yet on the other it requires Councils to plan for ‘excessive’ jobs and housing accelerating Green Belt development across Lancashire, including Merseyside and Greater Manchester. It also allows developers to cite viability issues to trigger further greenfield allocations, a clear conflict of interest.
If the land is to be built, clearly it should be the subject of a masterplan to coordinate the actions of the multiple owners (including Knowsley Council) in order facilitate Smart Growth, which is a sustainable approach to planning that emphasises compact and accessible urban communities and which opposes urban sprawl and car dependency. Smart Growth seeks traditional ways of planning towns based around local services, ease of walking and cycling and good public transport, especially rail-based. It looks for ways to re-build our lost sense of community.
See below for CPRE Lancashire’s full submission on the draft Halsnead Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document consultation.