Green Belt Information Further reading about the green belt

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LATEST UPDATE JANUARY 2019...

The publication of the Council’s Final Plan and supporting documents has now commenced from Thursday 17th January and will run for an 8 week period to 5pm on Wednesday 13th March.

The good news is that it has been recognised that less houses are needed and, hence, less Green Belt. However, whilst HA16 has been “safeguarded” this does mean that it will no longer be afforded the protection of being Green Belt. ECRA will continue to oppose any building on Green Belt and will be preparing a robust response to the submission.

WE NEED YOU TO ACT NOW & RESPOND TO THIS PLAN! Copies of the plan as well as the preferred document for you to submit your comments to the Council can be found at;

https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/localplan

However, ECRA are here to support you. We will be holding a number of Information Events (keep your eyes peeled on the Calendar page) and will be circulating a ‘user friendly’ Comments Form to allow you to submit your views.

Look out for the next ECRA Times on your door mat, the latest facebook posts and website updates for all the latest news.

TOGETHER WE CAN DO THIS!

Throughout 2019 ECRA, with Windle, will continue its campaigning work to ensure that our GREEN BELT is protected by providing effective and clear evidence to the Planning Inspectorate when required.

What has happened to date…

Eccleston Community Residents Association – ECRA – was formed when 16 local residents volunteered as representatives on the Steering Group for a Campaign to save the destruction of GREEN BELT land in and around Eccleston and Windle.

The Group have undertaken a substantial amount of voluntary work including:

  • Regular meetings to plan a campaign strategy to ensure a positive outcome to protect the Green Belt.
  • The formation of Communications, Fund Raising and Technical sub groups. These teams are working tirelessly raising awareness of the issues and gathering data to prepare our case for the Planning Inspectorate when required.
  • The setting up of the ECRA campaign website and social media links to raise awareness and inform residents of developments
  • Holding meetings for local residents to present the clear picture that supports the fact that there is no need to build over a thousand new houses on the GREEN BELT in Eccleston and Windle.
  • Attending rallies and protests outside the Town Hall to make Councillors aware of the strong feeling against the Draft Local Plan proposals.
  • Distributing thousands of leaflets on a regular basis throughout the year to keeping residents informed of developments and relevant information including raising awareness of the traffic and infrastructure impacts of the proposed plans.
  • Creating awareness with the placement of signs throughout Eccleston and Windle for which the support from residents is very much appreciated.
  • Meeting with the Chief Executive and Head of Planning for St Helens
  • Engaging with local MP’s and Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor and responding to a Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) consultation on housing and employment land need.
  • Meeting with Prospective Developers for Eccleston and Windle sites to emphasise our objections to building on this valuable agricultural land.
  • Engaging with Eccleston Councillors who are fully supporting our cause to preserve the unique nature of Eccleston within the St Helens borough.
  • Engaging and working with other St Helens protest groups who are all running their individual campaigns.
  • Engaging and working closely with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) as well as monitoring the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) for news and trends on planning matters.
  • Monitoring Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announcements and Government legislation on relevant planning matters eg Brownfield
  • Responding in great detail to a number of Government consultations on housing and housing need calculations in order to influence planning policy reform in respect of Green Belt development, including writing to the Housing Minister and the Prime Minister.
  • Determining the support that is needed from professional experts on planning and the legal aspects of the campaign that will be necessary when the Local Plan is challenged at hearing in front of the Planning Inspectorate. Expert support is essential if we are to win our case
  • Organising a series of events to raise money to engage that expert, including Quiz Nights, Coffee Mornings, Social Evenings and Raffles.

 

What are the facts?

St Helens’ Council is required by law to produce a future plan for development and housing, and in December 2016 they produced the “Local Plan Preferred Options” for consultation.

This plan proposed to build 17,100 new homes across St Helens over a 30 year period, increasing the population by 39,300 people – almost a quarter more residents than the current 177,000.
To accommodate this growth there are 6 sites in Eccleston and Windle which potentially could be “removed” from Green Belt and will initially contribute 2477 homes adding 5,700 people – a whopping 49% increase in the local population.

5695 responses from concerned residents and businesses were received during the consultation period in December 2016 and January 2017 and have since been analysed by St Helens Council.

On the 24th October 2017 we were informed that the release of the next version of the local plan, which takes into account the views of the responses, was significantly delayed. A further delay was announced by Mike Palin, St Helens Council Chief Executive in September 2018.

Council approval for the next version of the Local Plan – known as the proposed submission version – is now expected early in 2019. This will be the version of the plan that the council wants to see adopted, subject to inspection by the independent Planning Inspectorate. Depending on the outcome of the inspection, the council hopes to adopt the Local Plan in 2019 and implement it through the borough until 2049.

As a consequence of the proposed developments and such an increase in population;

  • Eccleston and Windle's road and utility infrastructure, educational and healthcare facilities, which are already under considerable strain, will be overwhelmed.
  • The green space, ecology and ancient hedgerows will be lost, destroying the essential semi-rural character of Eccleston and Windle.
  • Prime agricultural land will be lost, adversely affecting the local farming industry reducing local future food security for the increased population.
  • Substantial mitigation will be required in respect of ecological and wildlife ecosystems to ensure the development is fully sustainable.

What happens next?

When the ‘proposed submission’ draft of the Plan is released it will be followed by an extensive period of publicity, in which the public and other stakeholders will, once again, have an opportunity to fully express their views on the Plan. We will need your help!

The Plan will then be subject to independent examination by a Government Planning Inspector, who must be satisfied that the Plan is ‘sound’ before the Council can adopt it. The Council hope to be able to adopt the Plan in 2019.

Whilst this timescale is longer than anyone had originally anticipated it will enable St Helens Council to respond to a number of factors which are outside their control. These include:

  • The results of a Government consultation on changes to the way in which the level of need for new housing is to be calculated.
  • Enabling the Plan to take into account emerging evidence concerning housing and employment needs being gathered at the City Region level.
  • Undertaking work to confirm the effects of the Plan in relation to transport and other infrastructure need, this work is being undertaken in consultation with Highways England.
  • The ongoing update of a Brownfield Register and other supporting documents. This will confirm, for example, the amount of previously developed (‘brownfield’) land that is suitable for housing.

The following documents have been written by ECRA in response to a number of consultations including:

Please click any of the three links above to view the relevant document. Thank you.

Contact ECRA

If you have any questions about the ECRA or what we're doing, please don't hesitate to send us an email on

Thank you.

Click here to get help with your response to the council