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Strategic plans for Liverpool City Region engulfs West Lancashire and threatens preventable countryside loss

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 12:57

Farmland in Sefton that has been proposed for housing Farmland in Sefton that has been proposed for housing Photo: © Jackie Copley

CPRE Lancashire has submitted comments on Liverpool City Region (LCR) Strategic Housing and Employment Land Market Assessment (SHELMA).

The Lancashire Branch of the CPRE jointly with its District Groups in Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, West Lancashire, and The Wirral Society (part of CPRE Cheshire) has submitted its response to Mike Palin the Lead Chief Executive for Housing and Spatial Planning in the Liverpool City Region.

The SHELMA is a very important document since it will play a fundamental role in determining the development plans of the six Local Authorities of the LCR (namely, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens and Wirral), with the addition of West Lancashire for the purposes of this study.

CPRE Lancashire has raised the following key issues:

  • The draft SHELMA does not adequately take account of the very great impact that the hugely expanded Port of Liverpool will have, not just on the LCR, but on the whole North Region coast-to-coast.
  • The predictions of the draft SHELMA of land use arising from logistics purposes are based on unplanned speculative proposals by developers, when what is required are strategically sited planned multi-modal logistics centres, with associated logistics land allocations focused on maximising the use of rail both for freight and passengers. There should be no major new roads built other than those designed to service these strategic logistics centres.
  • Because the analysis of the draft SHELMA is based on speculative rather than planned use of land for logistics warehousing, it will perpetuate the development of more land than is necessary, resulting in an unnecessary loss of countryside and farmland; it will also increase the already unacceptable levels of congestion on existing motorways and the local road networks connecting to motorways. The draft SHELMA does not address the issues of noise and air pollution associated with transport.
  • Further, the draft SHELMA would consolidate the unfavourable level of investment in the North Region as compared to that in the south. Upgrading transport cross-Region (as opposed to North/South) is recognized as a necessary condition for economic development and remedying the persistent low productivity of the North Region. Between 2016/17 and 2020/21, investment per head in transport in the whole of the North of England will be little more than one seventh that of London alone, and a corresponding disparity exists for the other investment metrics for the South East as compared to the North Region. We believe the SHELMA should contribute to the creation of planning policies aimed at the regeneration of brownfield sites in the urban areas of the North of England and attracting investment for that purpose.
  • We believe the SHELMA should not include West Lancashire in the LCR Housing Market Area (HMA). Just as North Cheshire and North East Wales are linked but are distinct HMAs, we believe the linkages of West Lancashire to its LCR neighbours are not strong enough to make it part of the LCR HMA.
  • We believe the housing requirements for the constituent authorities are much too high, being based on excessively optimistic economic growth forecasts, notwithstanding the economic uncertainties associated with BREXIT.
  • Currently, the government is consulting on its proposal to introduce a new method for estimating the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing and there is little doubt that the new method will become part of government policy. If that expectation is realised, the draft SHELMA projections will have to be reassessed. We reject the Government’s proposed new method for estimating OAN for housing on the grounds that it is based on a simplistic arbitrary model of housing markets which in the main would result in much higher rates of housebuilding in the South of England than in the North, thus still further accentuating North/South divide.
  • The draft SHELMA fails adequately to address issues specific the needs of rural communities, particularly concerning affordable housing and housing suitable for various categories of older households.

CPRE believes a beautiful, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live. Millions of town and city dwellers recharge their batteries with a walk or a bike ride in the local Green Belt, spend weekends and holidays in the countryside, or enjoy fresh local produce. People who live in rural areas keep our countryside beautiful and productive.

Unlike many environmental charities, CPRE has no vested interests – we own no land, rely solely on donations and we are politically independent. We make decisions with the head not the heart, as much as we love the countryside, and we are possibly the only green group which has a completely holistic approach. Planning is all about looking at the bigger picture when resolving conflicts of interest, and our wide remit means we consider both rural and urban matters when commenting on policy.

See the attachment below for CPRE's response to Liverpool City Region Strategic Housing and Employment Land Market Assessment. 

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