St Helens’ green belt plan ‘wasting money’

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Campaigners have accused town hall chiefs of “throwing away taxpayers money” ahead of their planned protest outside tonight’s full council meeting.

Rainford Action Group say St Helens Council’s Local Plan, which would see homes built on green belt land, goes against Government policy.

Groups opposed to wide-scale development on St Helens’ green belt say Theresa May’s comments in the House of Commons last week indicate that proposals in the St Helens Local Plan would be rejected if put before an independent planning inspector.

The group intends to take hundreds of protestors to Victoria Square where they will stage a “noisy” demonstration while councillors hold their monthly full council meeting.

James Wright, chair of the Rainford Action Group, said: “The Prime Minister’s comments and the huge number of responses to the consultation show the St Helens Local Plan should be radically rewritten and the proposals for building on the borough’s green belt removed.

“We’ve said all along the population growth predictions, housing need estimates and employment figures in the Local Plan are unproven and do not justify concreting the countryside of St Helens.

“As councillors consider how they should save money to cope with the financial shortfall the council faces, one way would be to review their Local Plan. To take it forward any further in its current form would be throwing away taxpayers’ money and a gross waste of the council’s limited resources.”

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last week, Theresa May confirmed the government’s stance that green belt land should only be built on as a last resort. That commitment followed the recent housing white paper published by the government that stated the green belt could only be developed in “exceptional circumstances”.

The full council meeting will take place tonight at 6.15pm, with the protest starting at 5.30pm.