Save Wirral’s Green Belt. Uproar at Leverhulme plans to build 830 homes on greenfield sites

The Leverhulme Estate has identified around 140 acres of green belt land for residential development in Wirral and has submitted early-stage proposals to Wirral Council in the form of Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Opinions, identifying the sites and outlining its intentions for each.

Hundreds of Wirral residents have voiced their concerns on the many Facebook local community groups that cover the areas where they live.

Wirral Council has a brownfield first policy but will need residents’ support in order for this to be implemented.

The sites are at Barnston, Irby, Pensby, Heswall, Raby Mere and Greasby. Wirral residents are being asked for their views on the proposed developments via a consultation that closes on 15 January.

It should be taken into account that the council can only refuse the proposals due to certain criteria as listed in the National Planning Policy Framework. Objecting to the proposals by claiming a loss of their personal view over greenfield sites is not a consideration, however devastating this might feel.

The objections that can be raised that will be taken into account are:
(a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
(b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
(c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
(d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
(e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Other site-specific factors people could include in their comments include the impact on wildlife, especially if a site is of biological importance or suffer the loss of public rights of way.

Links to the pages on the Wirral Council website where you can view the proposals and submit your comments are set out at the end of this article.

“We are in the midst of a biodiversity and climate crisis and our green open spaces have never been so important,” said Labour Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committtee at Wirral Council. “We need to protect them for environmental reasons and we need them for our own well-being and the two are very much connected.

“Our green open spaces should be available for residents and visitors to use and enjoy, not gated off for a select few. We want to see the improvement and regeneration of our urban areas, particularly Birkenhead, and have a brownfield first policy for the upcoming Local Plan which we intend to stick to despite any moves by the Government to reduce greenbelt protection or increase developers’ rights.

“Residents can and should object to unwanted plans to build on their green spaces but objections must be based on Greenbelt functions (if the land is designated Greenbelt) and Planning Law if they are to be effective.”

Margaret Greenwood, Labour MP for Wirral West said, “It is a matter of very real concern that Leverhulme Estates have submitted proposals that may impact on around 140 acres of green belt land in Wirral.

“People in Wirral West value the green belt highly, not just for the quality of life that it affords, but also for the wildlife habitats that it provides and the role it has to play in helping us face the challenge of climate change.

“In May 2019 Parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency. This crisis is here now and we cannot afford to simply ignore it. We all have a responsibility to protect nature and biodiversity and to look after the environment that future generations will inherit.

“I urge everyone in Wirral West who cares about the environment to submit their objections to these proposals as soon as possible.”

Leverhulme, Wirral’s largest landowner with over 5,000 acres, says its Vision is in step with the Government’s ‘Building Beautiful Places’ plan published in July.

The plan calls for “beautiful, environmentally sustainable and life-enhancing communities” in which “good quality design will be paramount.”

The Leverhulme Vision brochure has a passage that reads, “While supportive of Wirral Council’s commitment to brownfield regeneration, the reality is that there will need to be some release of Green Belt land in order to meet the
Borough’s housing need. Leverhulme offers a vision and scale of opportunity that enhances Wirral for everyone.”

It is, however, hard to reconcile their claim that the plan “enhances Wirral for everyone”, whilst building on green belt sites and by going against Wirral Council planning criteria.

The full Leverhulme Vision brochure (PDF) can be seen by visiting this link: https://leverhulme.net/content/files/Leverhulme-Vision-Brochure-for-Website.pdf

Get involved and help save our Green Belt! This is the list of sites that are affected – click the links to register your comments:

Land at Milner Road and Barnston Road, Heswall – SCR/21/02377 Includes proposals for up to 120 homes

Land west of Barnston Road, north of Gills Lane – SCR/21/02379 Includes proposals for up to 160 homes

Land east of Thorncroft Drive Gills Lane Pensby – SCR/21/02381 Includes proposals for up to 15 homes

Land East Of Raby Hall, Raby Hall Road, Raby Mere – SCR/21/02383 Includes proposals for up to 85 homes

Land east of Glenwood Drive, Irby – SCR/21/02384 Includes proposals for up to 310 homes

Land east of Dale View Close, north of Gills Lane, Pensby – SCR/21/02385 Includes proposals for up to 100 homes

Raby Hall, Raby Hall Road, Raby Mere, CH63 0NN – SCR/21/02386 Includes proposals for up to 40 homes

Wirral West Labour MP, Margaret Greenwood, “I urge everyone in Wirral West who cares about the environment to submit their objections to these proposals as soon as possible.”

Image: GOOGLE

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