Council reiterates commitment to building on Rainford greenbelt

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Council chiefs have responded to a government white paper which appeared to throw cold water on their plans to build on greenbelt land in Rainford.

The Rainford Action Group hailed the development, saying it is pleased the government has renewed its commitment to protecting the green belt and reiterated that green belt development should only happen in “exceptional circumstances”.

Read the group’s response here

However, town hall chiefs say it will not effect their plans, insisting only a fraction of the borough’s greenbelt land will be turned over to developers.

Coun John Fulham, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth, said: “As a council, we have been very successful in the past at directing development to brownfield land.

“Since the green belt was established, St Helens has not had any significant changes to its green belt.

An assessment of St Helens’ housing land need and supply was carried out by independent assessors, who found that there was a requirement for more housing in all the key settlements within the area, in order to create a wider choice and greater affordability for local residents

Coun John Fulham

“However, at some point, developable and deliverable brownfield sites are going to run out.

“The current Plan, the Core Strategy, highlighted this pressure. Going forward, the Preferred Options propose 59 per cent of new homes will be built on brownfield sites, but there are insufficient numbers of these sites to accommodate all our housing and employment needs for the Plan period up to 2033 and beyond, and this will mean that green belt land will need to be released.

“An assessment of St Helens’ housing land need and supply was carried out by independent assessors, who found that there was a requirement for more housing in all the key settlements within the area, in order to create a wider choice and greater affordability for local residents.

“A wider selection of housing stock is needed, ranging from executive homes and including affordable homes, as well as a number of specialist homes such as bungalows and Lifetime Homes which can be adapted to support the needs of those with a disability or the elderly.

“The Council will keep its list of brownfield sites under annual review through its SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment), and if further sites become available we will take that into consideration when calculating our land requirements for the next stage of the draft Plan.

“Residents are encouraged to review the preferred Options Plan, in particular Policies LPC01: Housing Mix on page 94 to 97 and Policy LPC02: Affordable Housing Provision on page 98 to 101 which sets out that 30 per cent of

new housing on greenfield sites would have to be affordable housing.

“The majority of brownfield sites would not be required to provide any affordable housing.

“If proposals are approved, only a fraction of land would be released from the local green belt, leaving over 7500 hectares or 56 per cent of the borough green belt which is still a considerably higher proportion than other Merseyside Boroughs, and 20 per cent higher than Cheshire East.

“Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester have been transformed over the past 15 years and with the significant appetite to invest from the private sector, it is now St Helens’ turn to capitalise and capture the growth that has been going on around us.

“This is the first time that green belt land has been released in St Helens, and now is the time. If we do not capture and shape the growth open to us, then the investment, jobs and homes will go elsewhere and in these volatile times that’s not a price worth paying.”