Prescot Councillors Respond to Greenbelt Controversy
Two Knowsley councillors have responded to Prescot Online readers’ concerns about the council’s newly adopted Local Plan.
The main objection related to the removal of protected status from roughly half of the borough’s greenbelt, meaning owners will be able to sell the land for residential development.
Councillors Gillian Flatley and Denise Allen, both representing Prescot East on Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, explain why they voted for the Local Plan below.
Statement from Cllr Gillian Flatley (Labour, Prescot East)
I feel the same as everyone else that Knowsley Council has had to release greenbelt land, but there was no other viable option. When the Government Inspector appraised the original Local Plan, he stated that the plan was sound in principle, but there was an issue regarding the amount of land that was available to build on. Knowsley council had identified brown field sites.
Now, I don’t know where the Government get their statistics from that say Knowsley need to build 8000+ houses in the future, but that was their call. The borough had to look at the sites available, which unfortunately were greenbelt. All of the land is privately owned, and it is up to those owners to decide whether they want it to be developed.
To me, the Local Plan is more than just the release of greenbelt status. It’s about the sustainability of the borough. Now I know that people hate the councillors and say, “Get rid of them, they’re a waste of money.” But the borough is so much more. If Knowsley is swallowed up by Liverpool or St Helens, what will happen to services and jobs? I don’t know the answer to this.
Also, the plan discusses the regeneration of our towns, and to me that is vitally important. That is the reason I became part of the council. Hard decisions had to be made. I was not coerced into voting for the plan—I was looking at the bigger picture and the future of KMBC.
Statement from Denise Allen (Labour, Prescot East)
[This was originally published to Facebook in response to direct queries from members of the Prescot Online Chat group.]
The local plan started in 2009, and we were asked to put forward a five-year plan. When it was presented, it was rejected, and [then-government minister Eric] Pickles insisted on a 13-year plan, and we had to redo it. Within this 13-year plan had to be a further increase in houses. and this had to take in some of greenbelt land as there was not enough brown belt land to cover all the housing.
Of the greenbelt land that has been released, none of it is owned by the council. It is owned by different individuals. These landowners can choose if they wish to sell this land—not the council. This greenbelt that has been released is horticultural land, private land, which is not accessible to the public and never has been. The council have no control of this whatsoever.
Those places that are already parks, etc, like Stadt Moers, will remain as parks and are not included within the greenbelt land that has been released. Also, no houses will be built on any of the flood plains.
One last thing: Because we do live in a deprived area, we are reliant on the government to support us with the revenue support grants. However, the government is stopping all the revenue support grants in two years, Therefore, to maintain the income for the essential services in the borough, there needs to be more income. Therefore these extra houses will bring in some of the income that we will be losing because of the revenue support grant being cut. I hope this helps in understanding why people voted for the Local Plan.
More about Knowsley’s Local Plan
In the video below, Councillor Mike Murphy, Cabinet Member of Regeneration and Economic Development, explains why he believes the Local Plan is important to the borough:
Read the Local Plan Core Strategy yourself at www.knowsley.gov.uk (PDF).