Maghull Labour Action Team fury as Tory-Lib Dem government plann

Bill Esterson, Steve Kermode, Lynn Gatherer, Patrick McKinley and copncerned Maghull residents at the Damfield Lane plans exhibition

Almost identical plans for a care village on Damfield Lane which were rejected by Sefton just two weeks ago are being resubmitted by the property developer because of Tory-Lib Dem changes to the planning law.

The plans for the unit were rejected by Sefton Planners just last month as the land is designated as 'urban green space'.

But the developer is in the process of resubmitting the plans because of changes to the country's planning laws which give developers an automatic default approval for building on greenspace and greenbelt.

The changes were rushed through Parliament just one week before the Damfield Lane developer made its announcement.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and members of the Maghull Labour Action Team, Lynn Gatherer, Cllr Steve Kermode and Cllr Patrick McKinley all attended last Thursday's drop-in session to see the developers' plans.

Speaking to residents, they said local people were horrified that the plans could be resubmitted so quickly and with so few amendments.

Lynn Gatherer said: "The residents I have spoken to are shocked that these plans have been resubmitted so quickly after Sefton Council Planning Committee rejected them.

"The plans were rejected on the grounds that they were building on urban green space. As far as I and the other residents can see, the development will still be on the same green space. Nothing has changed with the plans.

"But what has changed is the Tory-Lib Dem government's changes to planning laws which have come in just in time for this developer to resubmit the same plans which were rejected just days earlier.

"This really is a shambles and the residents and I are totally furious.

"Not only did the Liberal Democrats in Maghull keep these plans quiet from the community for over a year, but it is their party's changes to the planning laws which has opened the door for the developer to resubmit its plans."

Lynn Gatherer and Patrick McKinley with Gerry Crilly Maghull Labour Action Team is organising a public meeting to discuss the resubmitted plans.

Sudell Ward Labour Councillor Patrick McKinley said: "The Tory-Lib Dem changes to the planning rules have just made this fight much harder. But it is a fight which we must win to save our valuable greenbelt and greenspace here in East Sefton.

"To that end, we have organised a public meeting to discuss these plans at Maghull Town Hall on Friday (April 13) starting at 7.30pm.

"As the Tory-Lib Dem government has now given developers the greenlight to build on our greenbelt and greenspace, we need to come up with some very strong arguments against the plans.

"It will take us all working together to put a strong enough case together. But it is our duty to do that, for the future of Damfield Lane and for the future of all of our greenbelt and greenspace areas.

"The Damfield Lane developers are the first company I am aware of in Sefton to take advantage of the Tory-Lib Dem changes to build on greenspace. So the battle starts here."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson slammed the Liberal Democrats for rushing through the planning law changes with the Conservatives.

Bill said: "The biggest threat to the greenbelt and greenspace across East Sefton is the change in planning rules brought in by the Tory-Lib Dem government.

"The new rules mean that developers will be able to build on the greenbelt and on valuable greenspace like Damfield Lane, and there will be nothing that local people or local councillors will be able to do about it.

"The new rules mean that councils will not be able to stop developers because big companies will be able to afford expensive legal advice which will be beyond the resources of councils which have suffered massive cuts from the very government that has changed these planning rules.

"I recently met with planning Minister Greg Clarke, who confirmed that there is a presumption in favour of development and it will be up to local communities to prove that development shouldn't take place, rather than for developers to prove that it should. This is of huge concern given the influence that developers have and the number of large development companies that give money to the Conservative Party. It is clear to me that developers have paid for the rules to be changed in their favour.

"The Lib Dems are up to their necks in this and have gone along with the changes in planning law every step of the way. They should be ashamed of themselves.

"It is the people of Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree and Melling that will suffer because of the behaviour of the Lib Dems and their Tory friends."

Maghull Labour Action Team's public meeting to discuss the Damfield Lane plans will be held at Maghull Town Hall on Friday, April 13 starting at 7.30pm.

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