Margaret Greenwood MP Raises The Issue Wirral Council Are Reluctant To Address
As our members will already know, we are vehemently opposed to our council leader’s seemingly unstoppable quest to foist upon us, his project to build a ‘Golf Resort’ plus 200 ‘luxury’ houses on North West Wirral’s Green Belt. Rod Tann, our Chairman, wrote to Councillor Phil Davies in June asking many questions about his project, for which we are still awaiting a reply. In the meantime, the ‘Stop The Golf Resort’ group have stepped up their action to help spread the word about the Golf Resort plans to a wider demographic – with results.
As well as setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, they have been out and about Wirral collecting signatures against the development and have met with local MP, Margaret Greenwood to further reinforce her awareness about the public’s continuing opposition to the scheme. This opposition has now escalated after it has been revealed the council want to spend £50,000 of council tax payer’s money on a transport study for a new link road for Golf Resort traffic, as if enough public money hasn’t been spent already! Furthermore, the opposition to the scheme has attracted the interest of the BBC who featured it on their North West edition of the Sunday Politics show, in which they interviewed people opposing the scheme including our Chairman. Nobody from Wirral Council appeared on the programme though they did make a statement supporting the idea for tourism.
Having assessed the public feeling, Margaret Greenwood has organised a public meeting about the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort which we are hoping a council representative will attend to answer questions. Seeing as this is very much an Executive leadership project, we would expect no one less than Council Leader, Phil Davies to attend and answer questions about something that he clearly holds as a personal ambition for the area.
The meeting will take place at Hoylake Community Centre, Hoyle Road, Hoylake, CH47 3AG on Saturday 9 December between 9:30am and 11am. We sincerely hope Councillor Davies will be in attendance to explain why we should be as excited as he is about sacrificing our Green Belt for what is at the end of the day, a political initiative.
“Things come in threes” So the saying goes, but in this case, we have no less than four worrying Greenbelt issues to contend with at the time of writing.
1. Hoylake Golf Resort
Wirral Council’s very own ‘vanity project’ rumbles on, threatening to remove a large piece of Greenbelt land between Hoylake and West Kirby for a so-called ‘Golf Resort’. We, along with many other people in the locality believe the idea is doomed to failure and is actually part of a more elaborate plan to remove the land from the Greenbelt for future housing expansion. This would be a long, drawn out process, but removing the Greenbelt status with outline planning permission would be the first step to a very lucrative goal. Call us cynical if you like, but we’ve been watching Wirral change since the 1920s and this has many hallmarks of a different, long-term plan.
However, in an unexpected twist, we saw Wirral’s current council leader, Phil Davies publically declaring his support for Wirral’s Greenbelt against Government housing targets. Our Chairman, rightly so, wrote to Councillor Davies welcoming his statement to support the retention of our Greenbelt and recognising the difficulties in satisfying unrealistic housing targets set by central Government. Although we welcome his open commitment to protecting Wirral’s Greenbelt, we do find it at odds with the council’s current investment policy to remove a large swathe of land from Greenbelt and build a golf course, Hotel and ‘luxury’ houses in its place. We can only hope our council have a change of heart and echo the commitment of their leader’s words to retain the few green jewels left in Wirral’s crown. In the meantime, we ask supporters of Greenbelt to sign the online petition against Hoylake Golf Resort.
2. Saughall Massie ‘Community’ Fire Station
Far from being welcomed by the local community, the saga of this proposed ‘community’ Fire Station continues, despite being refused planning permission in December 2016. Although we welcomed the Wirral Council Planning Committee’s decision on the matter, we were quite alarmed that the majority of the Planning Committee did not put the retention of the Greenbelt as a major deciding factor.
They were certainly correct in identifying the negative impact it would have on adjacent residents in sheltered housing accommodation, but we find their overlooking of the Greenbelt issues quite worrying. It seems that the Planning Committee are mainly concerned with judging any resubmitted application on the content which addresses improving the negative impacts the original plans had on local residents. However, there seems to be little concern shown amongst the committee for their obligations to Wirral’s own UDP and National Planning Policy Framework regarding the building on Greenbelt.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority have also applied to have ‘Jenny’s Wood’ (a piece of land home to a wood of young trees on the surrounding Greenbelt) to be exempt from an Environmental Impact Assessment which is another hurdle that slows down the planning application process. Environmental Impact Assessments are the responsibility of those making planning applications on sensitive areas and we believe that having had their original plan rejected, they should not be exempt from any part of due planning process when the loss of precious Greenbelt is at stake.
The Wirral Society will continue to play their part in trying to ensure that the decision-makers on this unwanted application are made well aware of the many reasons why the move to this site is both unnecessary and unsuitable. You can register your opposition to the resubmitted plans on the council’s planning portal and we ask as many readers to do so to send a clear message supporting the retention of the Greenbelt.
3. Eastham Greenbelt Issues
We learn from the Eastham Village Preservation Association that a piece of Greenbelt lying within the ancient Eastham Village is under threat from housing development.
Old Anselmians Rugby Club wish to redevelop land they own inside Eastham Village with a view to building 21 houses, a new clubhouse and 150 space car park, plus a new access road. Eastham Village is also a Conservation Area, which makes any such application doubly contentious.
Thornton Hough Community Trust inform us that the Greenbelt within their area is under threat from Leverhulme Estates who have plans to build a ‘Continuing Care Facility’ at the heart of the village. Anyone who has visited Thornton Hough knows that it is quite like a time capsule to old Wirral, probably very much in keeping with the era of ‘Nomad’ himself, Norman Ellison.
Some things are better left untouched and Thornton Hough is certainly well worth protecting so we would ask people to support the village Community Trust and sign their online petition against any future development of the village.