Cllr Paul Stuart, the leader of Wirral Council, and Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, have written to Michael Gove, the government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to call on him to ‘recover’ a series of planning appeals by Leverhulme Estates relating to proposals to build nearly 800 homes on Wirral’s green belt.
This would see the Secretary of State himself take responsibility for determining the planning appeals.
It follows two previous letters from Wirral Council to Michael Gove, which haven’t yet been responded to, and a point of order from Margaret Greenwood in the House of Commons on the issue.
The Secretary of State can recover planning appeals in a number of cases, including when they involve proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals for significant development on the green belt.
A public inquiry into the seven appeals by Leverhulme Estates is currently ongoing. All of them relate to planning applications which were previously refused by Wirral Council.
The Secretary of State has the power to step in at any stage before the planning inspector issues her decision. The public inquiry into these appeals is scheduled to end on 4 July.
Writing to Michael Gove, in their letter Cllr Paul Stuart and Margaret Greenwood MP say, “Wirral Council wrote to you on 12 April, and then again on 5 May, to request that you consider ‘recovering’ the appeals for determination by yourself…It is within your powers to do this.
“It is, therefore, extremely disappointing that Wirral Council has not received a reply to that request. As you will be aware, Margaret Greenwood MP raised this matter as a point of order in the House of Commons on 24 May.
“There is huge opposition to building on the green belt in Wirral. This has been made clear, for instance, through public demonstrations and numerous petitions which have gathered tens of thousands of signatures.
“Moreover, the development on the green belt that Leverhulme Estates is proposing risks seriously undermining the position taken by Wirral Council in its draft local plan that the borough’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas, meaning that the exceptional circumstances required to justify amending the boundaries of the green belt do not exist.
“There are just a few weeks left for you to protect the green belt in Wirral.
“We, therefore, call on you to give this your immediate attention and take action as a matter of urgency.”
Image: Wirral West Labour MP, Margaret Greenwood, and Labour Cllr and Leader of Wirral Council, Paul Stuart
Paul Stuart image credit: Ed Barnes/LDRS