Prescot Councillors Respond to Greenbelt Controversy

By on Monday, January 18, 2016

localplancoverTwo 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).

30 Comments

  1. Clive Smith

    Monday, January 18, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    The comment about sustainability made by Gillian Flatley (note I did not use the title counsellor as this would imply respect, something which none of these councillors have earned). If Knowsley were broken up we would get our services from the surrounding boroughs and most of the council jobs would migrate to them also. It appears to me that the real losers in this scenario are the councillors themselves. The trough in which they have their snouts firmly placed could get taken away and this is nothing more than a desperate attempt at self preservation. The term “Despot” is more often used to describe a dictator who rules with an iron fist and who prevents people from speaking out against him. Given that Knowsley is ruled by one party and taking into account their appalling undemocratic conduct during the recent months it might well be a description that fits them too. #DespotKnowsley

    • Marie Williams

      Monday, January 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Well said that is exactly what it is. I only hope that Knowsley is split up between the other authorities. That is what these Councillors are afraid of because they will lose the posts and their noses will no longer be in the trough. Denise Allen lives in Knowsley and all 3 of her family have their snouts in the trough.

    • Tony Ely

      Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      So Clive if Knowsley was broken up into neighbouring authorities would much change.Same government policies, same cuts, sane local plan same councillors seeking sustainability in response to Austerity. Bigger trough you would think. I agree about poor consultation but the ballot box does not lie Labour councillors elected again and again so they must be doing some things right. It will remain a one party state as you put it until democratic alternatives are voted for.

      • Marie Williams

        Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 7:34 pm

        Because people vote for a monkey on a stick if it has a red rosette on.

    • deborah hickey

      Friday, February 5, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Gillian Flately says there was no other viable option..yet the councillors had 3 options to vote on,,two of which involved regenerating and developing existing land and buildings, and would have meant to loss of greenbelt. But they all chose to vote for the third option..which was primarily..release greenbelt land.There are so many things that are fundamntally wrong with their plan, and the decision they made…but one thing that really gets me, is why on earth, build new business premises.new business/industrial parks..when you have so many lying derelict and unused throughout the borough? Kirkby in particular has acres of disused industrial premises..its a wasteland.Why not regenerate these for business use…or demolish and use for house building? Could it be that there are no financial incentives to do this? Only new builds bring in the money? Another point, which is quite concerning..it would appear that the greenbelt land in Prescot, adjacent to the bypass, and owned by Whitakers, is already sold for housing, and the sale was agreed before the final vote to release greenbelt. Existing residents in Knowsley Park Lane area were aware of this more than a year ago, and many were trying to sell their houses to move, before this new development began.Looks like selling the greenbelt was a done deal a long time ago.

  2. Frank Fitzmaurice( Knowsley TUSC)

    Monday, January 18, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Councillor Denise Allen says that new housing will be a source of revenue, but the residents of those houses will need the services of the council which the said revenues will pay for. Unless councillor Allen is saying that they intend to make a net profit on the new residents then this is a circular argument. Greenbelt land is still greenbelt land whether it is publicly or privately owned and building on it will be detrimenntal to the environment. Also when land is rezoned as being for housing its price increases enourmously. This is another cost that will have to be borne by the least wealthy people in the country while a favoured few enjoy a vast windfall. Why did Knowsley council not insist that all brownfield sites were utilised before any greenfield sites were approved?

    • deborah hickey

      Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Frank,this is what I,ve been thinking…seems very short sighted and naive at best,to say the council will need the extra revenue generated by new housing, in order to pay for services in the borough.I presume the income they talk of is via council tax from the new houses?.but as you say..these thousands of new homes and residents will increase demand for services..especially schools and social services…so in actual fact..knowsley won,t ‘benefit’ or gain financially at all, because the extra council tax will be swallowed up, providing extra services for the extra residents!!!! Apologies if I.m missing something here, and my assumption is wrong! But from my understanding..the explanation given re this increase in knowsley coffers just does,nt make any sense at all, and seems completely illogical!

  3. Sandra Hughes

    Monday, January 18, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Seems scary that 8000+ people are going to suddenly move in to the borough, without children and without jobs! Where will their children go to school and where will these people work? Jobs are scarce and good schools over subscribed. Can you let us know, will the government give the councils money to build schools and bring in more manufacturing businesses? Knowsley will be more like benefit borough with home taught kids!

    • Denise allen

      Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8:51 am

      If additional school are needed they will be built. It will not be 8000 people moving in to knowsley there will be some moving in but there are people from knowsley always looking for houses in knowsley. Some of these are going to be bigger houses so that when people have larger families they can stay on the borough rather than moving out

      • deborah hickey

        Friday, January 29, 2016 at 9:44 am

        yeh..I see your point there Denise..but then, surely, when people move from a house in knowsley..to a larger/new house in Knowsley…other people will move into their ‘old’ house? So whatever way you look at it..there will be more people living here, who will require Knowsley services,increasing Knowsleys spending?
        With regards extra schools being built, if they are needed..how does that happen? who is responsible for school building..from demonstrating need, acquiring the land and planning permission, and ultimately paying for it?… Is it Local Government or National ? I genuinely do not know..not asking rhetorical question here..just trying to understand and make sense of this!

  4. J L Taylor

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    What will be the situation if the private land owners don’t sell the land to the extent that 8000 houses can’t be built. What number of houses can be built exhausting all the available brownfield sites?

  5. Collette Milne

    Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Councillor Flatley states “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.” This is incorrect KMBC planning dept generated the 8000 figure all by themselves. The full 186 page report is available at link below. Chapter 9 has the detail.
    http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/pdf/TR01_Planning-for-HousingGrowth-Technical%20Report-Submission13.pdf

    • Tony Ely

      Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      You seem to be up on alot of things Colette concerning the overall issue of greenbelt and its possible development.Truth is though that residents of Knowsley Village have largely been mis-informed about our village by the saveknowsleyvillagegreenbelt campaign committee . The greenbelt surrounding the village was always safeguarded from development beyond 2028 and this was reaffirmed by the inspector, Call a Public Meeting for a post mortem on your Campaign as has been requested for months,have a straight debate and stop hanging off the coat tails of other valuable campaign groups.The people of Knowsley Village have been taken for a ride without even realising it.

      • Marie Williams

        Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 7:37 pm

        If Knowsley don’t build 480 houses per year they can built on the Safeguarded sites.

        • Tony Ely

          Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 9:18 pm

          Marie you need to understand that no houses can be built on safeguarded land in Knowsley Village before 2028 unless the local plan is consulted on again and then planning permission granted.

    • deborah hickey

      Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Thanks for this..I will have a good read.I,m sure it,l be very enlightening

    • deborah hickey

      Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Think I may have posted my previous reply in wrong place!..it was in response to Collette Milne’s comment and link!

  6. D. Johns

    Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Well sais Clive Smith.
    Knowsley is STILL trying to justify itself 40 years on! Being blunt, local residents would get a better deal if it was abolished with some parts moving in with St Helens and the rest integrated with a ‘Greater Liverpool’.
    The only losers will be the highly paid execs who have ravaged the borough with poor decisions.

    Knowsley is just a tiny tiny borough – it has failed. Time to stop the waste and evolve.
    This greenbelt issue is just another disaster, blame the government etc….8000 new houses. Really?? Who the hell would want to live here!!

    Local councillors have caved in again and again following their Labour whip instead of representing their local residents wishes.

  7. Dean Miley

    Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Tony Ely. You wouldn’t in any way be connected to the Labour Council in Knowsley would you? We all know what safeguarded means with respect to the greenbelt. Should the council not meet the demand for new homes such sites can be brought forward. I imagine that will be the next thing that will happen. The Knowsley Councillor if they want to save their skins would be better off working out how to get their schools from the bottom of the school league tables. They might find that council tax payers would actually want to come and live here. Is that not obvious to you because it is to me. Knowsley would be better off it were disbanded and subsumed into the better run councils around it.

    • Marie Williams

      Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Dean, he was a Labour Councillor but lost his seat to the Green Belt Representative. He acts like a spoilt brat who has lost his dummy. His expenses.

      You are right about schools in the Borough. Like the rest of our Councillors Tony Ely thinks we are all thick.

      • Tony Ely

        Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10:44 pm

        Marie rather than resort to personal insult and character assassination without even knowing me perhaps you may enlighten me on why i believe you and others are thick. If you live in the village you can always speak to me face to face to get an understanding of who i really am. For the record i am proud to be a Labour supporter,trade unionist and believer in the democratic use if the ballot box. What i dont believe in is deception of the electorate as this is undemocratic. Oops must go just dropped my dummy, ps check the public records and see how proud i am of my achievements and my colleagues whilst elected to the town council in response to greenbelt issues.

        • Collette Milne

          Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 1:45 pm

          Knowsley Town Councillors were given a presentation explaining green belt land at Knowsley Village was to have green belt status removed,in a report to the then ‘Parish Council’ back in July 2011.It is item 61 in the July 11 minutes. The Town council does not publish the details but the borough council does. Looking at the borough council cabinet minutes June 11 item 5. page 15 the land at Knowsley village is listed a potential location for release from the green belt. It would have been nice if the Town Councillors listed as present 4 years ago could have shared some of this information with the electorate.
          Links below please copy and paste to browser.

          http://www.knowsleytowncouncil.gov.uk/town-council-minutes-2011-2012/

          http://councillors.knowsley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=5325&Ver=4&StyleType=standard&StyleSize=none

          • Tony Ely

            Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm

            This is exactly the point i have been making about the saveknowskeyvillagegreenbelt campaign leadership. The local plan is a borough plan not a town council plan yet the electorate of Knowsley Village were informed prior to the town council election that it was. Is this not deceiving the electorate. So convenient to post comments from 2011 yet nothing about 16 Labour town councillors informing KMBC in October 2014 it was against the local plan in full. SKVG needs to call a public meeting to debate this issue with the residents of Knowsley Village as soon as possible. This request has been made on numerous occasions however the elected member for SKVG on the town council appears remiss of his accountability for the next three years.

    • Tony Ely

      Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      With all due respect Dean it does nit make a difference if i am connected or not as we have freedom of speech in this country. By way of reference the land in Knowsley Village cant be brought forward for development before 2028 unless the local plan is consulted on again and even after that planning permission would still have to be secured.As far as your comments on Education i fully agree with you. On disbanding Knowsley how will that help as neighbouring authorities also have local plans and your forgetting the local devolution deal already done with the government.

  8. Dean Miley

    Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Tony, it clearly does make a difference. I highlighted your background to ensure people are aware of the context around your posts. I wouldn’t want them to think you were in any way unconnected to those making these decisions. Clearly disbanding Knowsley would be advantageous in the context of school selection. This will be a primary concern to the sort of people needed to keep Knowsley viable. We are talking about council tax payers, net contributers to the public purse. This is why they are releasing the greenbelt and in my opinion it is a flawed strategy, as Knowsley will remain unnattractive until the most fundamental issue is corrected. Only time will tell whether we or you are right about the land in Knowsley Village. For your interest, I am merely an ignored resident, not affiliated with any group. As a layman, I would put good money on the land in Knowsley Village being brought forward. One of the most lucrative pieces of land in the borough has just had its greenbelt status removed. What do you think is likely to happen given the amount of money involved? Your proud achievements on greenbelt issues, they are not looking so good at this point are they? The people of Knowsley Village look forward to many years of building misery. Thanks for your input.

    • Tony Ely

      Monday, February 1, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Dean i am not a borough councillor just a member of the local labour party in Knowsley. My posts are my own views the Polit bureau does not operate any more. Seems your agenda is more about disbanding Knowsley. If that happened tomorrow and we went into say neighbouring Liverpool you would be facing a 3.9 per cent increase in council tax, School selection can be by parental choice just because you live in Knowsley does not mean you cant choose a neighbouring authority school. Fundamentally i agree however as the learning centres have not produced the goods thus far so i cant really argue your point. Yes there is a response to austerity within the local plan however refer to the govt inspectors report and article if Tom Belger in Liverpool Echo. Land around knowsley village to be safeguarded until at least 2028 unless local plan is changed and consulted on again and then planning permission is granted.no building work misery until this is done.

  9. Marie Williams

    Monday, February 1, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Yes Tony, self praise is no recommendation.

    • Tony Ely

      Monday, February 1, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Marie how come you have nothing to offer this debate yourself and just jump on the posts of others. Ask yourself this Save Knowsley Village Greenbelt group has an elected member on Knowsley Town Council how come we have heard nothing from him in nearly 10 months when he was elected on one item saving the greenbelt.

  10. h greenwood

    Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    the green belt land is precious, you have all sold your souls to the devil, prescot is a treasured area, you have ruined it, too little too late, too much power, no brains, sorry but had to say it, disgruntled prescot resident, should of made a lot of prescot, it has fantastic history, you have ruined huyton, kirkby and prescot, and some parts of knowsley, all the character has been lost, yes i know its a poor borough but you have added to that, halewood has been ruined as well, get your act together and use brownfield sites first.

  11. M Green

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 8:23 am

    labour…..what a Joke.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *