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July 23, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson

In the last three years, I have asked more questions in parliament about the threat to our green belt than on any other subject. 

These have included questions to both Conservative and Lib Dem Ministers about why they changed the planning rules so the government can impose a local plan on us if they want to and why developers will have a free for all under their plans unless councils agree to large scale building in the green belt. 

In Sefton that means large scale building is likely in Maghull, Formby, Melling and Thornton with smaller development elsewhere. 

The government has made clear that unless councils come forward with a local plan that the government likes, then matters will be taken out of the hands of local people. 

As a result, it is clear that we will have to fight hard to mitigate the effects of the development and to try to keep any building proportionate to the size of the existing towns and villages especially in Sefton Central. 

If the building is to go ahead, it is vital that those who live here now benefit from the changes which appear likely to happen. 

As a result, I am pressing the government and my Labour colleagues in parliament to make sure that we have a decent level of high quality affordable homes which in part at least are allocated to people already living here. 

In addition, we need to make sure that the roads can cope with the increase in traffic and that there are enough school places and new shops for the new housing and those living there.

If we start with what’s in it for the existing community, we can at least see new development as potentially beneficial. 

The problem with the approach being adopted by the Tories and the Lib Dems is that their planning framework means developers can build executive housing where they want and potentially avoid having to build affordable homes for the local community. 

If we are to see a significant increase in the size of Maghull, Formby and Melling, we will have a tough fight on our hands. 

That fight will be against both the government and the developers who after all are among those who pay money into the coffers of the Conservative Party. 

Who knows, maybe the developers are planning to start giving money to the Lib-Dems as a thank you for the profits which they are going to make thanks to all the changes in the planning laws.

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