Bor­ough blue­print in bal­ance as Tory group urges re­think

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THE West Lan­cashire Con­ser­va­tive group will lead a bid to fight the pro­posed Lo­cal Plan at a coun­cil meet­ing next week.

The Tories will raise a mo­tion call­ing for al­ter­na­tives to be con­sid­ered in­stead of the ex­ist­ing plans which could see al­most 16,000 homes built in the bor­ough by 2050.

The pro­posed Lo­cal Plan out­lines the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the bor­ough, in par­tic­u­lar in terms of new hous­ing and em­ploy­ment space.

The pro­posal has been ap­proved for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion by both the plan­ning com­mit­tee and the cab­i­net of the Labour-run coun­cil, but the Con­ser­va­tives are de­ter­mined to fight it. Our West Lan­cashire, led by for­mer Con­ser­va­tive leader Cllr Adrian Owens, has also con­sis­tently ob­jected to the plans, though Labour say it is the best way to en­sure that the bor­ough’s fu­ture can be de­cided lo­cally.

Among the crit­i­cisms the pro­posal has faced are the loss of Green Belt land and the de­ci­sion to build over 6,000 new homes, in ad­di­tion to West Lan­cashire’s needs, to meet the needs of the Liver­pool city re­gion.

The mo­tion, which has been put for­ward by Cllr Ed­ward Pope, will be heard at a full coun­cil meet­ing next Thurs­day and ar­gues that im­ple­ment­ing a 30-year Lo­cal Plan is “un­prece­dented” and that it is un­re­al­is­tic to ac­cu­rately fore­cast so far ahead.

Cllr Pope said: “The pro­posal for a new 30-year Lo­cal Plan 2020/50 is un­prece­dented, given that it has not been pos­si­ble to iden­tify any other coun­cil that has adopted such an ap­proach.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to ac­cu­rately fore­cast the bor­ough’s pop­u­la­tion growth, fu­ture hous­ing and em­ploy­ment needs for more than 30 years ahead.

“The pro­posal to plan for 15,992 new homes and a huge amount of land for em­ploy­ment use can only be a very rough es­ti­mate.

“Apart from want­ing a huge in­crease in the an­nual tar­get for both house build­ing and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment, the Pre­ferred Op­tions pro­pose to pro­vide land to meet the fu­ture hous­ing and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment needs of Mersey­side – 6,256 new homes and hun­dreds of acres for em­ploy­ment use as part of an un­cer­tain prom­ise of sup­port with a pos­si­ble rail link for Skelmers­dale. The pro­posed re­lease of up to 1,500 acres from the Green­belt or Safe­guarded land is cause for con­sid­er­able con­cern.”

An­nounc­ing the con­sul­ta­tion, which runs from to­mor­row to De­cem­ber 13, direc­tor of de­vel­op­ment and re­gen­er­a­tion John Har­ri­son said: “The pro­posed new Lo­cal Plan will be an ex­cit­ing blue­print for West Lan­cashire’s fu­ture.

“It will en­able the coun­cil to bet­ter man­age new de­vel­op­ment in a way that cre­ates more sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vides homes for all parts of the com­mu­nity and in­creased em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple.”

Cllr Ed­ward Pope says 30-year plan is ‘un­re­al­is­tic’

Cllr Adrian Owens is ob­ject­ing to the plans

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