“Green Belt homes plan is madness”


OUTRAGED councillors at Appleton say they are horrified at proposals to build more than 9,000 houses on Green Belt land in South Warrington.

The plans will mean that all fields in Appleton will be built over, the character of Stretton and Appleton Thorn villages and the landscape of Higher Walton will be destroyed forever, they say.

Cllr Judith Wheeler (pictured) said: “It is madness to destroy beautiful countryside with some of the highest landscape value in Warrington.

“If the Green Belt has to go, it should be where the land is unattractive and has no amenity value and that means not all of south Warrington.

“The town would be made poorer by the loss of this countryside. It is not just local people who love their area, many from across the town appreciate the green space on their doorstep.

“Just take a walk, cycle or drive through the area and you realise that putting all our fields under concrete is criminal.”

Cllr Wheeler says that with the exception of the Omega development, most of northern and eastern Warrington will be largely untouched by the plans. Yet the area is equally suitable and more sustainable.

“The 2017 Government White Paper on Housing states that ‘maintaining existing strong protections for the Green Belt, and clarifying that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements’.

“There are dozens of brownfield sites in Warrington that should be developed first before turning to other areas.

“Fiddlers Ferry is a potentially vast area that could contribute to Warrington’s housing needs and this does not appear to have been considered in the council’s plans.

“Regenerate the town centre, make it an attractive place to visit – it isn’t at the moment.

“Build on the brownfield and then, if Warrington is still an employment boom town, needing more housing, move onto the greenfield sites, put the infrastructure in and we will accept our share of housing.”

Cllr Wheeler says the council talks of a “garden city” – but says she has yet to meet anyone, anywhere in Warrington, who wants the town to become a city.

“A prosperous and attractive town yes, a city no.””



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  1. When city status is some councillors’ mindseye there is no limit to what they will do; regardless of the aims and objectives of the people who elected them and whose interests they are supposed to represent and put into effect. It is increasingly clear there is a world of difference between what the people of Warrington want and what their supposedly elected representatives say they should have.

  2. Over 300 000 increase due to net migration last year. That means a Birmingham needs to be built every 3 years. This is our part of the price to pay for EU principle of free movement. I feel sorry for the south Warrington residents that voted for Brexit, but the remainers deserve everything they get.

    • Those that voted Brexit thinking that immigration would stop were deceived and will be disappointed. Those that voted Remain probably realised that either way there would be no change in immigration but hoped the retention of EU laws would protect them somewhat from our own greedy self-serving government, must also be disappointed. There were no winners – just losers all round.

      • SHA, project fear didn’t work the first time around, and if you think net migration would reduce dramatically if we stay in, you must be living in cloud cuckoo land. Or maybe you have just been lied to.

  3. She may not have mean’t it to sound as such but Cllr Wheeler’s quote is the best example of a NIMBY yet; “most of northern and eastern Warrington will be largely untouched by the plans. Yet the area is equally suitable and more sustainable”. In other words build anywhere except Appleton. She is obviously blissfully unaware of the 1300 houses on Omega, 1900 on Chapelford, 155 on Dawson House, 100 on Lingley Mere, 99 on Gemini – I could go on. Sankey’s character has already been lost due to mass development and roads in the area are heavily congested so its perhaps time that Appleton and Stretton took some inevitable development.

    • Cllr Judith Wheeler is not being a ‘nimby’, she is a political careerist playing pathetic party-political point-scoring games and all this ‘horror’ and ‘outrage’ is just hypocritical.
      Cllr Wheeler and fellow SW Lib Dem councillor’s ‘campaign’, ‘HCA Rethink South Warrington’, now ‘Sustainable South Warrington’, misled local residents into believing that ‘previous permissions’ given to HCA meant that the developments couldn’t be stopped and that the best people could hope for was to ensure that adequate infrastructure was included. This is total rubbish! The ‘previous permissions’ have no bearing whatsoever on the present plans submitted.
      Councillor Wheeler’s arguments against the developments are merely political posturing.
      Note in the above article she says, “not all of South Warrington” and “put the infrastructure in and we will accept our share of housing”.
      Who is she referring to when she says ‘we’? her political comrades perhaps but certainly not the residents of South Warrington, the majority of whom don’t want to lose any green land to housing. And, why should we? The ridiculous housing targets put forward in the draft local plan are not ‘being forced upon us by central government’ as has been implied but are merely the result of local politicians (of all parties) ‘fantastical, aspirations’ for ‘New City status’.
      Cllr Wheeler says she “has yet to meet anyone, anywhere in Warrington, who wants the town to become a city”. Truthfully, that should have been ‘any member of the public’ – because she will certainly have met many councillors who do crave ‘New City status’.
      BARBARA, do not be taken in by wily politicians. This setting up of a North / South divide is a commonly used ‘divide and rule’ tactic, it is to try to prevent the various areas of the town uniting – because united we can easily get these horrendous housing targets scrapped.
      There is enough land, including brownfield and plots which already have permission, to meet Warrington’s needs for housing well into the future. The ridiculously high targets in the draft plan are not needed and are certainly not wanted by the people of Warrington – and we don’t need to accept them!
      Don’t be fooled into believing that the proposed developments are ‘inevitable’. No greenbelt /green fields need to be lost anywhere in our town.
      Wherever they are they are precious, not just to the people who live close to them but to everyone, they are the ‘breathing lungs’ of our town and our survival depends on them.

  4. There is some confusion here. Any aspiration for Warrington to be designated a city rather than a town is not a priority for most councillors. Providing housing is. There really is not that much brownfield land left. We bemoan the loss of major manufacturing in the town – but every former steelworks is covered with housing.

    But the government came up last year with promoting “garden villages, towns and cities” which would get special government support. Technically the proposed area at Appleton would be a “garden village” (under 10000 homes) but the concept of garden cities is a familiar one (Hampstead, Welwyn, Letchworth) that arose from the ideas of Ebenezer Howard (Ebenezer the garden city geezer)

    The council has resisted greenfield development (e.g. Peel Hall) but (a) we need more housing and (b) the law is on the developers’ side.

    I could point out that Cllr Wheeler’s party was in government when the planning system was shredded to encourage more development, particularly housing, so “the default answer to a planning application is yes”.

    • It has been evident for a long time Steve, that city status has been seen as a prize worth having in the minds of some, if perhaps not all on the Council. Hasn’t Terry O’Neill been reported as keenly seeking city status for the town? He has also been reported as saying, in the context of borough wide traffic congestion, something like “Not a single house will be built until the infrastructure problems are resolved”. Most reasonable people in Warrington recognise the need for more housing, particularly affordable and social housing, but those presently living here also know from their daily journeys that the town’s infrastructure, not the individual localised infrastructures for developments scattered across the borough, has been a pressing priority for several years (decades?).
      Why have successive administrations pressed ahead so long approving (and apparently encouraging as you say) development after development whilst paying at best scant regard for the infrastructure?

    • Having just read the Local Plan Consultation documents and followed that with a very brief examination of the website, I think you should seriously reconsider your assurance Steve that any aspiration for Warrington to be designated a city rather than a town is a low priority for most councillors.
      The website documents contains such phrases as “Overall approach – Warrington New City…Warrington Garden City Suburb” “ of Warrington New City”
      But any doubts on this score are dispelled in this comment: “The Council believes planning for this [the preferred option] level of growth provides a unique opportunity for Warrington to make the transition from New Town to New City…”(sic)
      It seems this present administration like some of its predecessors has some questions to answer.

  5. There is no confusion here CLLR STEVE PARISH, other than that which you are trying to cause.
    As POSITRON has pointed out, there is ample evidence that seeking ‘City Status’ is a priority for WBC – and supported by many councillors.
    Providing housing is a priority – but the housing proposed is not the type of housing needed by the people of Warrington. A quick look on Rightmove will show you that there are plenty of homes up for sale & rent – the problem is that the people who need homes can’t afford them. They will be far less able to afford the £500.000 + or the ‘affordable’ £400,000 homes proposed!
    This “garden village” will be nothing but a dormitory estate for newcomers who work elsewhere.
    Re the ‘concept’ of the garden village – the ‘New Towns’ were supposed to incorporate these ideals and we all know what an off-target, cock-up became of that!
    You say, “the council has resisted greenfield development, e.g. Peel Hall”. I’d say, resisted up to now because if this site had been given permission then the ‘housing target’ card couldn’t be played to try to get permission on the SW sites. Peel Hall can be back on the agenda – and the ‘affordable need’ card pulled out at any time in the future.
    As for your trite, “the law is on the developer’s side”. You are attempting to use this as a scare tactic and like Cllr Wheeler attempting to mislead people into thinking there is no option but to accept these developments. It won’t work! I suggest you study up on recent planning policy and research recent case histories.
    There is no reason why the housing need of Warrington people cannot be met without encroaching on green land. There is enough brown belt sites and sites for which developers already have planning permission but have been allowed to ‘land bank’.
    Why don’t you just be upfront and say the real reason all of you councillors – of all parties – are so desperate to promote the building of multi-thousands of band D housing to be built?

    • The affordable housing and social housing needs to be built within the environs of Warrington, not created by funding from developers in Warrington to assist Torus’ actions in neighbouring boroughs.

  6. Reply to what? You seem to know better than councillors do what we want, even what we think. Councillors have little to do the calculations of housing need (because some councillors, mentioning no names or parties, would just say not in my ward).

    Anyway, talking about a “city” means nothing in terms of the local plan, and for those who want to know the government guidance, here you go:

    To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should:
    •use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework, including identifying key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing strategy over the plan period
    •identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable1 sites sufficient to provide 5 years worth of housing against their housing requirements with an additional buffer of 5% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to ensure choice and competition in the market for land. Where there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing, local planning authorities should increase the buffer to 20% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply and to ensure choice and competition in the market for land
    •identify a supply of specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15
    •for market and affordable housing, illustrate the expected rate of housing delivery through a housing trajectory for the plan period and set out a housing implementation strategy for the full range of housing describing how they will maintain delivery of a five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target
    •set out their own approach to housing density to reflect local circumstances.

  7. CLLR STEVE PARISH. Are you for real? Do you seriously expect us to believe this twisted take on the truth?
    You say, “talking about a “city” means nothing in terms of the local plan,” so why is the housing target set so high?
    As you quoted; Govt guidance ……local planning authorities should:
    •set out their own approach to housing density to reflect local circumstances.
    Warrington does not have a ‘need’ for the amount of housing proposed and most certainly no ‘need’ for the type of housing proposed for Appleton, Stretton, Grappenhall.
    However, WBC’s ‘approach’ is not just to deal with housing need it is geared to mass expansion to progress their aspirations to turn Warrington into a city.
    Central Government is not forcing mass expansion on us, it is WBC who are attempting to do that!
    As for your saying “Councillors have little to do (with) the calculations of housing need”.
    I can well believe that! but I can’t think of any reasonable excuse why they should not!
    We would expect that our councillors should be keeping a close eye on how housing need is calculated -to ensure that the calculations truly ‘reflect local circumstances’ and not just the aspirations of developers and members of the executive board and council officers. We would expect them to effectively scrutinise decisions. We would expect them to ensure that the public are informed of all proposals for the town’s future and to ensure that effective, public consultations are held. We would expect them to be putting in some time and effort to work for the interests of the people they are paid to represent!
    However, they all seem to be backing the ‘mass expansion’ plans which the vast majority of the people oppose.
    Now, STEVE, without any more bull****, can you just answer the question,
    “WHAT IS THE REAL REASON all of you councillors – of all parties – are so desperate to promote the building of multi-thousands of band D housing?”

  8. I’ll be brief. We can scrutinise it all we like – and I spoke at the last local plan public inquiry against the elevated figures that the Peel-led LEP then wanted – but in the end it’s the government inspector who says whether we’ve got it right. The last thing we need is the plan being rejected for not having enough housing (or even for too much).

    As to whether we need loads of band D housing I’ll make two comments. Developers like to build houses that sell and that tends to be band D (roughly). And the recent Appleton applications had objectors to social housing (I’m not sure if the Libdems concurred) so there’s nimbyism and exclusivity to contend with.

    Feel free to argue about the actual numbers but the only reason councillors will support new housing is that it’s needed.

    • No one would argue there is a not a need for more housing in Warrington, as there is in virtually every other area of the country. However, just how much and of which types of housing there is an increasing difference of opinion between the people and this council. You stated “any aspiration for Warrington to be designated a City rather than a Town is not a priority is not a priority for most councillors.” But it is an overriding priority for this council and abundantly clear from their preferred option of the Local Plan their estimates of the Town’s housing “needs” have been determined to accord with achieving City status.

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