The following are Green Belt at risk in our region
HS2 is currently in the consultation phase seeking powers from Parliament with a draft bill in 2014. The first shovel in the ground is planned for 2017 and the line planned to be operational by 2026. Nationally a very controversial scheme which you are either passionate for or against- there is no middle ground for this huge scheme to develop a high speed rail line. This will have significant environmental impacts for this region and the loss of green belt and farmland. That is inescapable whatever your stance on this proposal.
The planned line will run through Culcheth linear park skirting Kenyon, through Lowton St Mary’s, Golborne and on to Bumfurlong. Just before Bamfurlong it will go straight through Lightshaw Flashes SSS1 and Byrom Hall two nature reserves. There are plans to build a service and repair facility for HS2 rolling stock at Bamfurlong.
HS2 – Rail Interchange – Transport for Leigh
There is a view that states that much of the economic decline of Leigh was connected to the loss of rail links in the Beeching cuts of the mid 1960s. One of the key supporters of this project is the Labour minister Andy Burnham a local and the MP for Leigh. The scheme involves a diversion of the Manchester to Liverpool railway line so that it comes close to the south side of the A580 in the vicinity of Lowton and Pennington. The new Manchester to Liverpool line will be on a level with the HS2 line in a rail interchange. The idea is to bring rail connectivity to the region allowing access from Liverpool and Manchester to the HS2 line and improving rail connectivity to the region. The supporters of this scheme argue that if HS2 is coming here anyway the bulk of the environmental damage will happen so why not try to lever some benefits regionally and locally? Opponents of the scheme argue operationally the concept is flawed and there are local concerns over the road traffic access to the interchange. In terms of green belt there will be a huge loss.There is also an additional concern with the interchange in that the multiplier effect might drive demand for new hotels and housing estates with the HS2 access. To be fair OLV have engaged with Transport for Leigh to try to mitigate.
Whatever your views, HS2, the repair complex and the potential interchange will have profound biodiversity and environmental impacts the east of the OLV region.
Parkside Warehousing and Rail Freight
Locally a controversial scheme to build on 255 hectares, 600 acres of green belt land most of which is prime biodiversity habitat. The site is proposed both east and west sides of the M6 at Newton Le Willows and Winwick. The scheme would also come within a few hundred yards of the Highfield Moss SSS1 with biodiversity and drainage risk to the peat mire and hydrology of the SSS1 wetland.
The Parkside scheme was withdrawn in July 2010 for economic reasons. However the area is allocated in the St Helens MBC Core Strategy for such a proposal and currently for no other purpose other than that proposal.
Clearly with the high probability of HS2 and the rail interchange at Pennington 3 miles to the east, the loss of green belt at Parkside and dilution of the SSS1 would mean no green belt of significance until as far away as beyond Glazebury. In the other direction is the potential impact of Omega so with Parkside in the middle there is potentially an area from Glazebury to Rainhill (a distance of 17 miles) which within a decade could be complete urban sprawl.
This is a 575 acre development at Burtonwood / Westbrook about 4 miles to the west of Parkside. This is green space but is classified as brown field site not green belt. However the economic multiplier impacts over time might be significant. The concern is that in the future further pressure for housing on green belt in the Burtonwood area will occur after the absorption of the 1100 homes to be built on the brown belt of Omega.
There are plans to build 1000 homes in Lowton and Golborne which will have an impact on traffic and air quality in Lowton and surrounds. This area is already congested due to the existing road infrastructure. There are no plans to further develop the road infrastructure which will be expected to absorb the additional traffic. However these houses will not be built on green belt but on safeguarded areas- these are areas of green space but not formally designated as green belt by Wigan MBC.
At Cinnamon Brow, to the south of Winwick , there was a proposal by a developer, Satnam Millennium, to build 150 homes on green belt land in an environmentally sensitive area. This was subject to opposition by the local community in a well organised campaign. This went to appeal and the planning inspector ruled the developers plans were not sustainable development. The planning application was rejected. However the Warrington Core Strategy, is at the time of writing, not signed-off and the housing allocation not concluded. This area remains at risk therefore. However Appleton, Grappenhall Heys, Peel Hall and Pewterspear Green, which are potential locations for future housing development, have been removed from the Core Strategy following the Peel planning decision and Warrington have since announced the decision to build 1100 homes on brown field land at Omega. We are hopeful therefore Peel Hall is now safe although nothing can be assumed with development in today’s climate!
Ashton Road – Newton Le Willows
In the Core Strategy hearings Peel Investments (North) Ltd sought amendment to the Core Strategy of St Helens council via agents Semple Frazier.
In documents submitted in response to the Core Strategy Peel Investments (North) Ltd claimed that St Helens Council had not allowed enough land for warehousing in the Core Strategy and that land at Haydock, currently green belt, should be removed from the green belt, to allow its development for warehousing. At hearing sessions Peel later defined the land in question as being the cultivated farmland and ancient beech woodland bounded by Lodge Lane A49 (the top end of Ashton Road at the boundary between Newton-le-Willows and Haydock), the East Lancs Road A580 and Vista Road B5209. The Council’s response was “that the evidence submitted by Peel is insufficient to justify the release of the site from green belt”. ”
However subsequently the St Helens Core Strategy was amended for a small but significant technical clause for greater cross authority working in planning, see below. This leaves the door open for future development on this land provided a future opportunity arises in synergy with Halton (Peel have extensive operations at Halton). The land is protected within green belt at present but due to these circumstances must be considered at risk especially in today’s rhetoric and landscape.
Ref – St Helens Core Strategy Documentation
The Council has actually prepared a statement of common ground with Halton Council (EX029) on housing delivery and future green belt work. Merseyside authorities, at the District Planning Officers and Planning Policy Managers meetings, discuss the Duty to Cooperate regularly, and a procedure is being developed by them.
St Helens MBC 2013 Core Strategy Update
From St Helens council
Following the adoption of the St.Helens Core Strategy Local Plan in October2012, preparation has progressed on several documents. An essential stage in preparation is consultation and we are now starting consultation on the following: Call for Sites for Development and Allocations and Sustainable Development Local Plan Scoping St.Helens Council is preparing an Allocations and Sustainable Development Local Plan, which will identify where new housing, employment and other significant development will be placed, together with sites that should be protected against development. Your views are invited on the scope of this Local Plan. We will also be reviewing the Green Belt, including allocating land in it for development.
Essentially the council ,having ratified the broad core strategy for the borough to 2027, are now seeking to “flesh out the bones” of the CS which is at the moment just a strategic document. The council’s consultation ended in September 2012 and some members of OLV responded to the consultation. The council were suggesting a methodology for reviewing the future of the boroughs green belt asking the public what they think should be removed from green belt for development and what should be retained. The council also asked for calls for sites which are e.g. if a resident has a view that an area could or should be developed they can suggest those sites to the council. This consultation was to be welcomed, however this is part due to the council’s statutory obligation on community involvement.
The next phase in 2014 will be to suggest actual amendment of the green belt. Given the pressures on the council, the expectations unfortunately are that this will be a net loss of green belt.