St Helens Council apologise after Local Plan letter confusion

It is understood that numerous councillors raised concerns about the letter, anticipating that it could cause confusion and unease with residents
It is understood that numerous councillors raised concerns about the letter, anticipating that it could cause confusion and unease with residents

Thousands of additional letters were sent to residents after a first batch failed to provide crucial information about the St Helens Local Plan.


Residents across the borough received a letter earlier this month with information about the submission draft of the plan, which is currently open for representations.

The letter informed residents they lived near to a site or multiple sites that had been identified for development, including homes, factories and warehouses.

However, residents who live near safeguarded sites also received a letter – although no explanation of what safeguarded land actually was, was provided.

Safeguarded land is a site that is earmarked for development and removed from the green belt, although it will be protected from development throughout the 15-year period the Local Plan covers.

The letter said: “This letter has been sent to you because your house is close to one or more site(s) that the council has identified for development (homes, factories, warehouses, etc).”

It continued: “For some sites, there are also other consequential changes (outside the site) proposed to the green belt boundary.”

It is understood that numerous councillors raised concerns about the letter, anticipating that it could cause confusion and unease with residents.

The concerns prompted Jonathan Clarke, the council’s development plans manager, to send another letter just days later.

Mr Clarke wrote that the “clarification” in the letter only applies to those sites which are proposed to be safeguarded.

“Please accept my apologies for any confusion that may have arisen from these points,” Mr Clarke said.

“The advice set out in my original letter from last week (concerning how to view the draft plan, the deadline for submitting any representations, the council drop-in sessions and the next steps) remains unchanged.”

One of the councillors who raised concerns about the letter was Labour’s David Baines, ward member for Windle.

Windle has a 53-hectre safeguarded site that has been earmarked for 1,027 homes.

Coun Baines said: “I’m pleased that council planning officers have sent a second letter to areas close to the safeguarded sites put forward in the Local Plan submission draft.

“While the first letter sent by planning officers contained important information about how to make submissions and details of the drop-in sessions, it didn’t clearly state that the sites were safeguarded or what that means.

“With something as important and as detailed as the Local Plan it is vital that residents are given the correct information.”