Formby Labour MP Bill Esterson to organise public meeting to dis

Bill Esterson, Nina Killen and Peter Maguire


Formby's Labour MP Bill Esterson is organising a public meeting for the people of the town to have their say on plans to build as many as 300 houses on land off Liverpool Road.
 
Developers David Wilson Homes and Barratt Homes held an exhibition last week outlining preliminary plans for a major development on farm fields to the east of Savon Hook and Alt Road.
 
Although the site itself is designated greenbelt land, a spokesman for the developers told Bill Esterson at last week's exhibition that the land is still owned by the farmers but the companies have "an option to buy" the largest stretch of land directly alongside the bypass.
 
Bill joined Formby Labour Councillors Peter Maguire and Nina Killen at the exhibition to see the plans for themselves and also to quiz the developers.
 
The Labour Councillors also stayed at the exhibition throughout the day to gauge the views of locals about the developers' plans.
 
Bill Esterson said he had been contacted by lots of residents with concerns about the potential scheme.
 
Bill said: "In the very short time since this public exhibition was announced, I have been inundated with residents' concerns and I know that my Labour colleagues on the council have had the same level of correspondence.
 
"All of the points made to me are points which I will be putting directly to the developers and also to Sefton's Planning Department.
 
"At present the developers say the plans are in the very early stages and that no application has been submitted, but they clearly have Formby in their sights for a major housing development.
 
"But before they do, they have explain to me, the people of Formby and Sefton's Planning Committee just how they plan to contend with the issues which the residents have raised. These include concerns over drainage. I have seen for myself the frequency each year that the land which they have earmarked for building floods. It regularly looks like a lake. How are they going to deal with that without simply moving the problem onto other areas, which could be the existing nearby housing or the bypass itself.
 
"We also need to know how the developers plan to deal with the already congested roads around the site. Liverpool Road heading out of Formby to the bypass is already regularly gridlocked. If these houses are built, then we are looking at potentially another 450 cars on the roads. That's a major increase in traffic which needs to be factored in.
 
"Then there's the issue of the extra strain on the existing infrastructure. Can the sewers cope? Are there enough schools? Will the GP surgeries be able to contend with hundreds more people on their books?
 
"These are the issues which people have raised with me and which we all need answers to."
 
Bill said although he was pleased the developers were consulting with Formby's residents before submitting any formal plans, the company had already admitted it was taking advantage of a lack of long term plan for housing in Sefton.
 
Bill said: "The companies' spokesman confirmed to me that they were swooping in on this land now while Sefton still didn't have its long term housing plan finalised.
 
"They see this as their opportunity to come in here and make as much money as they can. They are a business and that's just what they will do.
 
"I have concerns about the very short notice of the public exhibition and the fact that it was held during the summer holidays, when many people would be away.
 
"But I was delighted that hundreds of people did take the time to see the plans for themselves."
 
Bill is now arranging a public meeting for Formby residents to come along and have their say.
 
Bill said: "The developers tell me that they will be back in October with some firm plans and they make no secret that they will be submitting an application to build housing on the land.
 
"So I, together with Formby's Labour Councillors and the parish councils will be arranging a public meeting to ensure that everyone has a chance to have their say.
 
"We will arrange the meeting for shortly after the summer holiday period.
 
"We all agree that there is a need for more affordable housing in Formby. Young people here are struggling to get themselves on the property ladder and are having to move away to find a home they can afford to live in. We need to solve that problem for the good of Formby but not for the good of big business developers. Any development has to be in the right place and I am also very concerned that once we open to door to development on one piece of greenbelt it will tell developers that Formby is open for development."
 
Bill said recent government changes to planning laws opened the door to developers to build on greenbelt.
 
Bill said: "The Tory-Lib Dem Government recently changed the National Planning Policy Framework, which essentially gives the greenlight to big businesses to come in and build on the greenbelt.
 
"The greenbelt was established by the Labour Party in the years immediately after the Second World War to safeguard the 'green lungs' of the country outside the sprawling urban conurbations.
 
"Our greenbelt contains areas of important natural interest and also valuable agricultural land.
 
"These need to be safeguarded for future generations. And that's why I will continue to campaign to protect out greenbelt.
 
"And that's why I urge everyone in Formby to come along to the public meeting which we will be holding in September.
 
“I am prepared to listen to plans from developers but so far I have seen nothing to convince me that this proposal is in the interests of the people of Formby or the environment. Unless that changes, I am likely to oppose any plans for building on this piece of land.”