Possible government intervention on Leverhulme plans

The government is currently considering intervening in a decision on whether controversial homes can be built on Wirral’s greenbelt.

This comes as an inquiry over whether to allow 788 homes to be built by Leverhulme Estate across the Wirral continues. The plans have faced serious opposition with hundreds turning out to protest and thousands signing petitions.

Eight housing applications have been rejected by Wirral Council though Leverhulme said it has only appealed seven so far. These applications are the first stage of plans to build nearly 8,000 homes on the Wirral according to Leverhulme.

Leverhulme argue they would address Wirral housing needs, providing attractive and sustainable neighbourhoods but the plans were still voted down unanimously by councillors.

A letter was sent by Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood and Wirral Council leader Paul Stuart on 5 June calling on Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove “to give this your immediate attention and take action as a matter of urgency.”

In response, Baroness Jane Scott said, “The Government is currently considering whether these appeals should be recovered for decision by Ministers on behalf of the Secretary of State (Michael Gove), as you have requested.

“I can assure that the representations he has made will be taken into account when deciding on recovery.”

If the decision was recovered, this would mean that ministers, not Planning Inspector Katie McDonald, make the final decision. The inquiry is scheduled to close on July 4.

MP Margaret Greenwood said, “I stand with Wirral West residents who are campaigning hard to protect the green belt in Wirral. The majority of the sites in question are in Wirral West, and my constituents have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to see it built on.

“There have been public demonstrations and petitions with tens of thousands of signatures. The strength of public opinion should not be under-estimated. Wirral Council has clearly set out how the borough’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas.

“It is right that the government should look closely at these planning appeals. The public inquiry into the planning appeals by Leverhulme Estates is set to end early next month, so time is of the essence.”

Cllr Paul Stuart added, “Leverhulme Estates’ plans would have a massive impact on Wirral’s unique character and beautiful countryside, damaging the quality of life of those who live and work near it.

“Their plans are just the first phase of proposed unwanted and unwarranted green belt development. The Secretary of State should step in and protect the green belt in Wirral.”

An artist’s illustration of plans for 290 homes near Irby that was rejected by councillors Credit: Alan Baxter Ltd on behalf of the Leverhulme Estate. Commissioned for use by LDRS partners

Main image: Protestors at a rally over the Leverhulme planning applications. Credit: Edward Barnes. Commissioned for use by LDRS partners

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