The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed seven appeals by Leverhulme Estates who wanted to build around 800 homes on the green belt across Wirral.
In her decision, the Planning Inspector Katie McDonald wrote, “The very special circumstances necessary to justify the developments do not exist and there are clear reasons for refusing the developments proposed.”
The decision is available to view on the Planning Inspectorate’s website
Wirral Council had previously refused all seven applications which were for homes on land in Barnston, Heswall, Irby, Pensby, and Raby Mere.
There has been widespread public opposition to the proposals.
A public inquiry took place as part of the appeal. Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, who has consistently opposed Leverhulme Estates’ proposals in parliament and in the media, spoke out during one of the sessions of the inquiry, alongside the leader and deputy leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Paul Stuart and Cllr Jean Robinson respectively.
The three also wrote to government housing secretary Michael Gove over the appeals, and they hand-delivered a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street as part of the campaign against Leverhulme Estates’ proposals.
Leverhulme Estates have a separate appeal pending with the Planning Inspectorate for 240 homes that they want to build on green belt land east of Rigby Drive in Greasby. This application was also previously refused by Wirral Council. People have until 3 October to send their comments to the Planning Inspectorate, and they can do so via this link: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase.aspx?CaseID=3327219&CoID=0
Commenting on the Planning Inspectorate’s decision, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “I am delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has dismissed the seven appeals by Leverhulme Estates.
“The green belt is immensely important to the health and wellbeing of those who live in and visit the area.
“It also has an important part to play in restoring wildlife and mitigating the impact of climate change. This is a great result for Wirral West.
“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has campaigned to save the green belt in Wirral.
“It has been an incredibly important campaign and a testimony to the passion which people feel for protecting the environment. I have been proud to campaign alongside them.
“People in Wirral West have made it abundantly clear all along that they do not want to see houses built on the green belt.
“Wirral Council’s draft Local Plan sets out how the borough’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas. They should now be allowed to get on with this without interference from developers who want to build on the green belt.
“It is still a matter of real concern that Leverhulme Estates have a further appeal pending for hundreds of homes that they want to build on green belt land in Greasby. They should withdraw this; their plans are not wanted in Wirral. I would urge local residents to register their concerns with the Planning Inspectorate.
“I call on Leverhulme Estates to drop their plans to build on Wirral’s green belt once and for all.”
Wirral Council’s Leader, Cllr Paul Stuart, has welcomed the decision by a planning inspector to back the authority’s refusal of plans to build on part of the borough’s Green Belt. He said, “It is great news the Planning Inspector rejected Leverhulme’s appeals and preserved our Green Belt, supporting the regeneration of the borough with our Brown Field First Local Plan.
“From the beginning, our communities, elected members, and the Council has made it clear that safeguarding the Green Belt is of utmost importance, and all involved have dedicated considerable efforts to achieve this outcome.
“I extend my gratitude to everyone who campaigned against these planning applications and participated in the appeal hearings. A special thanks goes to our hardworking council officers who played a vital role in securing this result.
“Nonetheless, there is still much work ahead. The Local Plan examination hearings have resumed this week, and they will greatly contribute to our ongoing efforts in protecting the Green Belt, while also meeting the housing and regeneration needs and desires of our borough’s residents.”
Nigel McGurk, Head of Planning and Development for Leverhulme, said, “Leverhulme is disappointed with the decisions reached by the inspector. As part of our long-term vision we wanted to make a significant and early contribution to the identified needs of Wirral, but the inspector has not supported this.
“The very real and deeply embedded issues facing Wirral regarding the chronic lack of housing supply, in particular the urgent requirement for family and affordable housing, remain the same, and will not simply go away.
“Unfortunately for those in need of housing, Wirral Council’s current trajectory will continue to fail to deliver the mix of housing that the borough requires.
“We will continue to promote the Leverhulme Vision for deliverable, sustainable communities, most immediately via the Local Plan process. We look forward to ultimately contributing to the acute housing needs of the borough.”