Wirral MP highlights green belt planning appeals in parliament

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11 May 2023
Parliament has been dissolved until after the general election and I am no longer an MP.

Margaret Greenwood MP has spoken in parliament about a series of planning appeals – the outcomes of which she says will particularly impact on people in Barnston, Irby and Pensby, and have implications too for those in Greasby. 

The Wirral West MP was speaking during Business Questions where MPs are able to highlight key issues and put forward topics on which they think the government should provide time for a debate. 

Wirral Council has previously refused a series of planning applications by Leverhulme Estates relating to the building of hundreds of homes on the borough’s green belt. Leverhulme Estates subsequently submitted appeals against all of those refusals and a public inquiry will now be held to hear all of the cases together. 

With that public inquiry set to begin on Tuesday of next week (16 May), Margaret Greenwood MP took the opportunity to raise the matter in the House of Commons. 

She said that Leverhulme Estates’ plans are “not wanted by local people” and that they are also contrary to what Wirral Council has set out in its local plan – namely that the borough’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas. 

The local plan is itself currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate. However, that process has controversially been put on hold while the Leverhulme Estates appeals are heard. 

Writing in March to Michael Gove, the government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Margaret Greenwood and Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley said that it cannot be in the public interest for the Leverhulme Estates’ appeals to be given precedence over the local plan examination. 

They called on Michael Gove to intervene with the Planning Inspectorate and put work on the Leverhulme Estates appeals on hold until Wirral’s local plan is finalised. 

Speaking after her intervention, Margaret Greenwood MP said: 

“People in Wirral West are extremely anxious about the planning appeals that Leverhulme Estates are pursuing. 

“The appeals relate to applications for the building of housing on the green belt. 

“Wirral Council have already refused planning permission for these developments, and local people have made their feelings abundantly clear. They want to see the precious green belt protected both now and for future generations.   

“The council has set out clearly in its local plan that Wirral’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas.  

“We therefore have a situation of conflict between what, on the one hand, local people and the local council want, and on the other, what developers want. 

“Leverhulme Estates’ proposals would substantially and permanently alter the semi-rural character of Wirral West. They also run contrary to Wirral Council’s regeneration plans for the urban areas of Wirral and they would cut the people of Wirral out of decisions that should rightfully be theirs on where major development should take place in the borough. 

“Once the green belt is gone, it is gone forever. We need much stronger protections for it. We need affordable housing to be built on brownfield sites and to high energy efficiency standards. 

“I have repeatedly called on Leverhulme Estates to abandon their plans to build homes on the green belt in Wirral, and I take this opportunity to do so again.” 

There is information available for anyone who might want to attend the hearings and take part at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/4dmcyrc6

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