Bill Esterson agrees with National Trust that Tory-Lib Dem Gover

Nina Killen, Peter Maguire, Bill Esterson and Catie Page

 

Sefton Central's Bill Esterson has agreed with the National Trust who has this week written to the Labour MP to warn that the greenbelt is at risk as the Tory-Lib Dem Government is making planning decisions that "do not serve the interests of people living in our cities, towns, villages or countryside".

The National Trust has released the 'Localism at Risk' report which highlights the trust's concern for the future of the greenbelt, one year after the publication of the Tory-Lib Dem Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The NPPF was introduced in March last year and effectively gave the greenlight to building on the greenbelt.

In his letter to Bill Esterson, National Trust director of the North West, John Darlington, wrote: "One year on from the publication of the NPPF and the National Trust's 'Planning for People' campaign, we have worked with the Local Government Information Unit to evaluate the impact of the changes and how far they have helped local authorities to put communities at the heart of planning.

"Today we released Localism at Risk, a report which highlights areas for concern: Over half of Local Plans are not in place - including in Sefton, leaving communities at risk of speculative development; Greenfield sites are at risk as brownfield sites, many of which already have planning permission, are increasingly being deemed uneconomic to develop.

"We are therefore asking the Government to: Extend the deadline for local authorities such as Sefton to adopt their Local Plans, giving all communities time to input into the future of planning for their area; and rethink criteria to ensure brownfield sites are prioritised within housing allocations.

"Without a coherent plan-led approach we believe poor planning decisions will be made that do not serve the interests of people living in our cities, towns, villages or countryside.

"I hope you will be supporting us in advocating this approach by asking the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government and the Planning Minister to respect the primacy of the views of local communities when judging the conformity of Local Plans, and to stop overruling Local Authority decisions to reject development on greenfield sites."

Bill Esterson has repeatedly raised concerns about the future of the greenbelt with the Government.

Bill said: "The long-term future of the greenbelt is an issue which I have raised countless times with the Government. The National Planning Policy Framework clears the way for developers to build on the greenbelt.

"The Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Patterson and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Nick Boles, have both made clear that the Tory-Lib Dem Government will over-rule local authorities who oppose developers' plans to build on the greenbelt.

"You can't get clearer than that. This Tory-Lib Dem Government is on the side of developers and not the community.

"I support the National Trust's campaign and reiterate my repeated calls on the Government to 'respect the primacy of the views of the local communities' and to stop 'overruling Local Authority decisions to reject development on greenfield sites'.

"But I fear the Tories and Lib Dems in Government are being duplicitous. While they proclaim the desire to strengthen localism, their obvious priority is to the developer."

Bill said he feared that unless the Tory-Lib Dem Government changed direction, plans to build on the greenbelt site off Liverpool Road in Formby will be just the tip of the iceburg.

Bill said: "Developers have earmarked greenbelt in Formby for hundreds of houses. That will just be the start.

"No matter how many petitions we all submit, the Tory-Lib Dem Government's policy is to override the opinion of the local community, those who will be affected by the plans, in favour of developers.

"That is not localism.

"I will continue to campaign to protect our greenbelt in Formby and the rest of Sefton, and I will continue to push the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, the Planning Minister and the whole of the Tory-Lib Dem Government, to revise its planning policy and finally start listening to the community.

"I welcome the National Trust's involvement in the campaign."