Wirral West MP and Wirral Council Leader and Deputy visit 10 Downing Street with call for the Prime Minister to protect Wirral’s green belt

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04 Jul 2023
Margaret Greenwood MP, Cllr Paul Stuart and Cllr Jean Robinson have delivered a letter to 10 Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government to protect the green belt in Wirral. The letter also calls on the Prime Minister to instruct the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to recover a series of planning appeals by Leverhulme Estates.

The Wirral West MP along with the Leader and Deputy Leader of Wirral Council made the visit as they continued their campaign to get the government to step in and recover the appeals which have been the subject of a public inquiry. 

The appeals relate to seven applications for the development of nearly 800 homes on the green belt across Wirral, with Wirral West the area most affected. All seven applications were previously refused by Wirral Council which has set out in its local plan that the borough’s housing needs can be met on brownfield sites and land in urban areas.  

It follows an update from the government two weeks ago when a minister in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirmed in a letter to Margaret Greenwood MP and Cllr Paul Stuart that the government is currently considering whether the appeals should be recovered for decision by ministers on behalf of the Secretary of State. 

In their letter to the Prime Minister, Margaret Greenwood MP, Cllr Paul Stuart and Cllr Jean Robinson called on the Prime Minister and his government to protect the green belt in Wirral, and they called on the Prime Minister to instruct the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to recover the Leverhulme Estates appeals.

They wrote: 

“We call on you and your government to protect the green belt in Wirral. 

“We call on you to instruct the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to recover the appeals.  

“We have requested that the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities recovers Leverhulme Estates’ appeals on the grounds that they are proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals for significant development in the green belt. Officers at Wirral Council have also requested that the appeals be recovered on these grounds. 

“On 21 June, Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, confirmed that the government is currently considering whether the appeals should be recovered for decision by ministers on behalf of the Secretary of State.  

“We await further information from the department about this. However, time is short. The public inquiry into the appeals is set to conclude today, 4 July, and the Planning Inspector is expected to make her decision soon after. As you will be aware, the Secretary of State can recover the appeals at any point up until the time when the Planning Inspector makes her decision. 

“It is evident that Leverhulme Estates’ plans are not wanted by local people. The feelings of Wirral residents have been made clear to us through public demonstrations and numerous petitions which have gathered tens of thousands of signatures. There has also been widespread opposition to the plans in the press and on social media.
“The people of Wirral care passionately about protecting the green belt, both for this and future generations. This is a view that we, as their elected representatives, share.

“The scale of Leverhulme Estates’ proposals would substantially and permanently alter the semi-rural character of large parts of Wirral, particularly Wirral West. Once the green belt is gone, it is gone forever.”  

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