The Formby Parish Council has begun the process of going through the recently published ‘Emerging Publication draft of the Sefton Local Plan’. Our overriding aim is to take steps to protect the special environment that is Formby, and we do require a robust plan to prevent over-development. However, there are several issues in connection with the brief given to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9th December 2015, we believe to be incomplete and misleading.
First we repeat our objection to any building on the green belt.
This Council was not consulted by Sefton on this final draft nor on the additional sites included in this draft, and nor were the other nine parish councils in Sefton, which we believe contravenes the duty to consult and certainly is in breach of the recently updated Parish Charter for Sefton.
For Formby we are alarmed at the inclusion of employment land sites both North and South of the Formby Industrial Estate when we would have expected only one to be selected. We do recognise the need especially in the context of the planned expansion of the Liverpool Container Port by Peel Holdings for extra business premises which was already acute before the Peel plans but the inclusion of both sites is excessive. We are also concerned with the extra housing development at Brackenway, Formby, especially as this area is subject to frequent flooding and surface water problems. The inclusion of the Ravenmeols Centre not before mentioned comes as a surprise in that another local amenity is possibly threatened together with the loss of green space in that locality.
The Draft still presses for the need for extra development despite the population in Sefton projected to be lower than it was ten years ago. Although we understand the changes in society we believe that the figure of 470 dwellings per year, the level of building in the last 30 years, we would suggest is more than enough to cover the needs of the community.
The Local Plan relies on the integrity of developers to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is provided and with the need to maintain numbers of dwellings built each year there is pressure to relax this requirement. Could the percentage of affordable housing required on each site be sufficient or subject to later change? We have seen this happen in Sefton previously. We are also concerned with the extra pressure on social welfare, on health services such as doctor’s practices and particularly local schools.
We are told that few amendments if any are expected on this version of draft Local Plan before it goes to the examiner. With regard to Neighbourhood Plans we believe that notwithstanding the contents of the Local Plan and having to conform with the Local Plan the Neighbourhood Plans still gives us some control over planning issues in our local areas. If we don’t try then we will have missed the chance forever and so while such influence may be limited we must try to ensure we retain our local character and protect our environment.
We sincerely believe that this approach is reasonable and necessary for the sake of our community, and it is our aim to make representations to the examiner in due course
Cllr. Geoff Gaskin Co-Deputy Chair Formby Parish Council and Chair of Formby Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee
6 January 2015