MP Bill Esterson warns the fight to save Formby's greenbelt coul

Bill Esterson, Nina Killen and Peter Maguire



Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said the fight to save Formby's greenbelt could be a long hard battle after it came to light that David Wilson who is one of the shareholders in David Wilson Homes, is a Conservative Party donor.

David Wilson Homes has revealed plans to build 300 homes on the current farmland to the east of Savon Hook and Alt Road.

The plans have sparked anger amongst Formby's residents who have since organised a campaign group to oppose the development.

After seeing the plans for himself at a public exhibition last week, Bill Esterson said he would oppose the plans which will not only destroy greenbelt in Formby, but would set a precedent for the whole country.

Bill said: "Along with hundreds of Formby residents, I went to see an exhibition at the Gild Hall by David Wilson Homes. The exhibition was about a proposal to build up to 300 houses on green belt land between the Formby Bypass and Liverpool Road.
 
"The representative of David Wilson Homes was very confident that the company would be granted planning permission. He has reason to be confident. David Wilson is a shareholder in David Wilson Homes and is listed by the Sunday Times Rich List as a donor to the Conservative Party.
 
"In their turn, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government has recently made changes to the National Planning Policy Framework which gives the greenlight for developers to build on the greenbelt, just as David Wilson would like to do here in Formby.

"Ever since the Tories and Lib Dems announced their NPPF changes, I have repeatedly raised this point in parliament. Despite government ministers claiming that the greenbelt is protected by the NPPF, here in Formby we are seeing the reality as we have a developer claiming the opposite and telling residents that he can and will build on greenbelt."
 
Bill has been contacted by a growing number of Formby residents who are opposing the development. He is compiling the complaints which he will be giving to Sefton Council's planning committee once the formal application is made by the developer.
 
Bill said: "I raised a number of concerns with David Wilson Homes, concerns which have been raised with me by residents of Formby, Hightown and Ince Blundell. These concerns included traffic, school places, health services, shops and flooding. Most people I have spoken to are especially worried about the impact on traffic and the fact that much of the land already floods. 
 
"From what I have seen and heard this site is not suitable for development for the reasons given by residents.

"I believe that we should be protecting our green belt as far as possible. Green belt was created by Clement Attlee’s Labour government after the Second World War as a barrier between towns and villages. We still need green belt for that reason."
 
While the MP agrees that there is a need for affordable housing in Sefton, he said there are alternatives to building on the greenbelt.
 
Bill said: "We do need affordable homes in Sefton. I have two children who will need somewhere to live one day. Many people cannot afford homes to rent or to buy. We will need more homes but in my view we need to build these on former industrial land or use the 6,000 empty homes in the borough.
 
"But while we have a government which is being financed by big business developers, they will be fixing the rules in the developers' favour. Developers can make much more money by building on greenbelt. As businesses, they want to make as much money as possible.

"So, we face a challenge from David Wilson Homes. It is clear that the new rules have given developers a big opportunity – the same thing is happening in Burscough. 
 
"So far I have seen nothing from the developers, which shows that they can deal with the flooding without making things worse for existing residents. I have also seen nothing to suggest that the roads won’t be more clogged. Once a developer gains a toe-hold on green belt in Sefton, many residents are concerned there will be little to stop other developers building where they want to. 
 
"Along with many residents, councillors and parish councillors, I will be challenging proposals for building at Formby or elsewhere in our green belt." 

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