The government has confirmed that it will not be recovering seven planning appeals by Leverhulme Estates regarding applications to build nearly 800 homes on green belt land in Wirral.
This latest development comes after Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood and Wirral Council Leader and Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Stuart and Cllr Jean Robinson visited Downing Street last month to present a letter calling on the Prime Minister to protect the green belt in Wirral and to instruct the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to recover the appeals.
However, in a letter to Margaret Greenwood MP and Cllrs Paul Stuart and Jean Robinson, the government’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities, Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, wrote:
“I understand your concerns and I fully respect these…However, after careful consideration we have concluded that the appeals should not be recovered. A decision will therefore be issued by the independent Planning Inspector.”
Reacting to the news, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “It is extremely disappointing that the government has decided not to recover the Leverhulme Estates planning appeals.
“We have repeatedly heard from the government that they will protect the green belt, but when given the opportunity to do so in Wirral, they have failed to.
“The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State Michael Gove had an opportunity to step in and save Wirral’s green belt. Their decision to sit on their hands and ignore the wishes of local people is devastating.
“People in Wirral West have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to see houses built on the green belt. We need new housing to be built on brownfield sites and Wirral Council has worked hard to develop a clear plan for this.
“The outcome of the Leverhulme Estates appeals is now in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate.
“We must now wait and hope that all of these appeals will be rejected by the inspectorate and that the green belt will be saved for this and future generations.”
What is a recovered appeal?: Planning appeals can also be ‘recovered’ for a decision by government ministers. A recovered appeal is one where instead of an inspector making the decision, he or she will write a report that will make a recommendation on how the appeal should be determined. This will then be passed to the secretary of state to make the decision, taking into account the inspector’s recommendation.