The Local Plan
The story so far ...
West Lancs Borough Council's Local Plan proposes to develop a 74 hectare site with houses and industrial units on Green Belt at Yew Tree Farm on Higgins Lane, joining Burscough village to the nearby industrial estate and merging it with the hamlet of New Lane. The site will initially have 1000 houses, developed in two phases, but could potentially deliver a further 2000 in the future.
In addition to the initial 1000 houses, a further 350 will be built around Burscough and 250 South of Burscough on Green Belt at Grove Farm, closing the gap between the village and the town of Ormskirk. There is also provision to build a further 60 houses on Green Belt off Red Cat Lane. All in addition to approved ongoing developments.
The council consulted with the public in May 2011 on the options available, but because they thought the public were not very good at making informed choices, they thought they would help by making it clear which were their 'preferred' and 'non-preferred' options. The 'non-preferred' option focused on development in Ormskirk, both 'preferred' options focused on Burscough.
The majority of objections received were to the 'preferred option' of heavy development of Burscough, yet despite receiving far less objections, the result was that the 'non-preferred' option was taken out of the consultation.
The preferred options were then rehashed as the 'Local Plan Preferred Option' which proposed even more houses in Burscough than the core strategy 'preferred' option, which received so many objections. This was closed for comment in February 2012. Yet again many reasons why not to build so many houses in Burscough were put forward and these were acknowledged but not considered or responded to in the feedback report.
Burscough Action Group was formed because of the lack of recognition by WLBC of the objection made by Burscough residents to the planned massive development of Burscough. Many local residents have been motivated to join this group and have a louder voice by sheer weight of numbers.
We have gathered thousands of signatures on our petition thanks to the dedication of a few local residents and the wholehearted response of the people of Burscough and beyond.
Because of our campaigning the local plan has been changed:
- Flooding in Burscough is now clearly identified as an issue which needs to be addressed with the separate issues of surface water and sewer flooding being highlighted.
- Yew Tree Farm is now acknowledged as land in agricultural and recreational use rather than derelict scrub land.
- Listed buildings, protected trees and hedgerows adjacent to the earmarked sites have now been recognised.
We have made it impossible for WLBC to ignore that the majority of residents object to the massive development of Burscough. In September, with the help of an Aughton resident, we initiated a Parish Poll to help WLBC be absolutely clear on what residents think of their plans. The poll had a fantastic turn-out (despite the ms-information in the Champion newspaper) in fact better than many of our elected councillors can boast, and that's without extended voting hours and postal votes. Burscough left WLBC under no illusions; an overwhelming 96.3% don’t want WLBC to build a massive development disproportionate to the size of Burscough on greenbelt without thoroughly investigating and exhausting all suitable alternatives and prioritising non-greenbelt first. 1438 voted No to the question and just 55 voted Yes. There was an average turnout of 19.93% of the population of Burscough with between 14 and 40% at each polling station.
In October Burscough Action Group along with many other West Lancs residents put forward their comments to the Planning Inspector, we made 59 representations which questioned many aspects of the plan; these representations can be viewed here on the WLBC consultation portal.
The 'final' draft version of the Local Plan, along with the representations, was submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in October 2012 for an Examination in Public (EiP) with the Planning Inspector Mr. Roger Clews (read more). After interim comments from Mr Clews the council made modifications the 'final' draft version of the Local Plan on which the Inspector publicly consulted during June, July and August.Read BAG's representations:
- Turning a Blind Eye to the Sewer Network Capacity Issues
- Surface Water Mitigation using Sustainable Drainage Systems
- Priority Species and Habitats
- Justification to GN2: Hypocrisy of New Greenbelt Boundaries
- New Policy RS6: Giving the Developers a Hand in Developing the Greenbelt
- Lack of Traffic Mitigation
- Sites Ignored in Land Allocation Modifications to the Local Plan
- WLBC Misinform Land Allocation Modifications to the Local Plan
- Consultation based on a lie
Mr Clews published his Final Report on September 26th, where he largely ignored (or excused) objections about the manner of the consultation, the way the sites were selected and dismissed the objection of the local electorate for instance the 96% result at the Burscough Parish Poll received the comment that it only represents 20% of the electorate.
Under the most recent legislation governing Local Plan’s, the Inspector’s report is not binding on an Authority. The final decision for adopting the Local Plan now lies with the full Council on 16th October 2013. Many of the politicians know that ignoring the wishes of the local electorate to support the aspirations of developers will ensure they lose their seats so the decision is in their hands.