Liberal Democrats warn of new threats to Green Belt

April 6, 2022 8:00 PM
By Cllr Ian Marks (Lymm North & Thelwall)

At Council logoLocal Liberal Democrats are concerned about the likely onslaught from developers and builders at the 'Examination in Public' of the Local Plan.

The Plan was passed by Labour at the Warrington Council meeting on Monday, despite opposition from Liberal Democrats and other groups. The officers' report made it very clear that many developers were very unhappy about their sites being removed from the plan due to the Council's decision to reduce the housing requirement and reduce the Green Belt take.

wp-content/uploads/imarks.jpgAt the Examination in Public the developers will be there in force with their well-paid consultants and lawyers in support. I am the Deputy Chairman of the South Warrington Parish Councils' Planning Group, and we will be fielding our planning consultant and barrister to fight the opposing case on behalf of all the residents who do not like the current version. We accept there must be an approved Plan which is sound, otherwise the Council will lose control of development and the developers will get their way.

We oppose the current Plan because:

  • The housing targets set by the Government are still too high
  • Exceptional circumstances have not been demonstrated to justify Green Belt release in many places
  • There is little control over making developers build on brownfield sites before the easy pickings of green fields
  • A lack of physical and social infrastructure
  • Greater dependency on road travel generating congestion and pollution
  • Insufficient concern for meeting climate change aspirations

Residents in Thelwall were shocked to find that 310 houses are now planned for Thelwall Heys. A Public Inquiry in 2004 found this area should not be developed because it functioned well as Green Belt. It is prone to flooding and is a much-valued open space. There is also the possibility of the new east-west rail route going slap bang through the centre of it at some future date.

There is already uproar at the recent decision of the Labour Council's planning committee to give premature permission for the vast Six56 logistics site on Green Belt next to the motorway. There is no rail access to this site and the low skilled jobs created there will steadily disappear with increased automation.

In Lymm there is concern that building on Green Belt will harm the identity and character of the village. The proposed site behind Sainsburys would generate more traffic on a narrow and already congested Rushgreen Road with hazards for pedestrians. Building would lessen the gap between the settlements of Lymm and Oughtrington. The saving grace is the proposed new medical centre. The two Statham sites would generate more traffic congestion. They are near to a Grade 2 listed building, prone to flooding and noise and air pollution from the motorway.