St Helens Local Plan approved by cabinet

The St Helens Local Plan: 2020-2035 will now go before full council on Wednesday, December 19
The St Helens Local Plan: 2020-2035 will now go before full council on Wednesday, December 19
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The St Helens Local Plan has moved a step closer to being adopted after it was approved by cabinet.

After securing endorsement from the Labour cabinet, the ‘submission draft’ version of the St Helens Local Plan: 2020-2035 will now go before full council on Wednesday, December 19.

Coun Andy Bowden, cabinet member for balanced development, housing and economic opportunity, said the plan is a “balanced plan for the borough”.

The deputy council leader said: “It looks at our existing needs, together with our future development plans and strikes a balance between growth, aspirations and the quality of life of our communities.

“It ensures that critical infrastructure such as schools, doctors’ surgeries, highways etc are not put at risk because of new development.

“And those areas that will see new, increased development will be the areas that will benefit from investment and infrastructure.

“The plan will act as the foundation for our borough’s future and the creation of homes, jobs and opportunities and I ask that colleagues support it and agree the recommendations.”

Melanie Hale, the council’s development service manager, said the plan was “significantly different” from the ‘preferred options’ plan shown in 2016.

Since then two new brownfield sites, land at the Cowley Hill works and the former Suttons distribution centre in Thatto Heath, have been brought forward for housing development, which has reduced the need for green belt release.

Other green belt sites that were previously earmarked for housing have also been ‘safeguarded’, which means they cannot be developed over the next 15 years.

These include the Eccleston Park Golf Club site and land south of the A580 between Houghtons Lane and Crantock Grove in Windle, both of which were previously earmarked for housing.

The plan also includes the Haydock Point site, owned by Peel Logistics, on agricultural land north east of Junction 23 of the M6, which was previously earmarked as an employment site.

Peel has earmarked the site as a logistics hub and has previously said the development represented a potential investment of around £161 million and would generate around 2,500 full-time jobs.

Part of a major housing site in Bold that was previously safeguarded has been brought forward in the plan, although the majority of the 133ha site will be delivered after the Local Plan period.

Ms Hale called the development a “major opportunity” for St Helens.

Another change has been made in relation to the Omega South Western Extension on land north of Finches Plantation in Bold, which was also previously safeguarded.

St Helens Council has also agreed to allocate 31.2ha of land adjoining the existing Omega South employment area to help Warrington Council deliver its employment needs for its emerging Local Plan.

The two sites at the former Parkside colliery sites remain the two largest employment sites in the plan.

The number of houses proposed has also decreased since the preferred options plan.

The plan proposes the delivery of 486 homes per annum, down from 570 previously.

Subject to approval by full council, an eight-week publication period will begin in January to allow the public to view the plan and submit representations to the council.

The plan will then be submitted to an independent planning inspector in the summer, with the council aiming to adopt the Local Plan in 2020.