Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has questioned the role of parish and borough councillors in East Sefton over the plans for a marina in green belt in Lydiate.
The planning inspectorate last week dismissed an appeal by Lydiate Marina Ltd after Sefton Planning Committee had turned down the planning application
Bill Esterson said: “Lydiate Parish Council and Maghull Town Council both supported the plans and the landlady of the Running Horses was encouraged to refurbish her pub at a cost of many thousands of pounds because she was told that the marina would be built.
"The residents in this area clearly had legitimate concerns. You just had to look at how many people turned up to voice their opposition against these plans to see how many people didn’t want this. More than 140 people attended to show their opposition. The Labour Action Team gathered 250 names in a petition.
"I am concerned at the way this was handled by members of both Lydiate Parish and Maghull Town Councils both of which were run by the Lib Dems at the time the decisions were made to support the marina. Lib Dem members of both councils supported the plans and encouraged Lydiate Marina Ltd to apply for planning permission when development of this land is clearly inappropriate according to planning guidelines because it is in green belt and outside the built up area.
"The work done by the company must have cost many thousands of pounds, just like the work done by the publican at the Running Horses. At the last minute, the same parish and town councillors suddenly changed their minds when the scale of opposition became clear from the residents of Bells Lane and neighbouring roads."
At the planning appeal, Des Brennan of Sefton Council for the Protection of Rural England gave a presentation to the inspector, which showed that the planning application was not appropriate development of the green belt.
Des said: “Lydiate Marina Ltd focused their attention on permitted uses of the green belt but neglected to check whether the marina was appropriate development for the green belt. Planning guidance is clear and it is the responsibility of the applicant that harm done to the green belt can only be outweighed in very special circumstances. There were no such circumstances in this case as the planning inspector has made clear.”
Bill Esterson said: “It is clear that there should never have been a planning application for a marina at Bells Lane. It is also clear that Lydiate Marina Ltd should never have been encouraged to apply to build on Bells Lane in the first place. Decisions were taken by Lib Dem parish and town councillors to support the developer. Some of those councillors are also members of Sefton Council. Lydiate Marina is out of pocket because of this episode. The Running Horses are out of pocket. Sefton Borough Council has wasted public money on a lengthy planning process and many residents have faced uncertainty and worry about the proposals. All because of the actions of the Lib Dems in Lydiate and Maghull.
"The Lib Dems in Lydiate now have the nerve to claim that they prevented the marina going ahead but they took the decisions to support the development of Bells Lane in the first place and caused all the problems.
"To build in the green belt, under the current planning guidelines, a developer has to prove that the benefits outweigh the harm done to the green belt. A big worry for the future is that the Tory-Lib Dem government is bringing in new guidelines. Those guidelines will mean that residents will have to prove the harm is greater than the benefits, the opposite of the situation at the moment. Councillors will need to work much harder to stop inappropriate development under the new rules and the actions of the Lib Dems in Lydiate do not bode well for the future.”