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Councillor's warning Birkenhead faces 'years of dereliction' sparks backlash
CLAIMS that Birkenhead could be condemned to “years of dereliction” because of a proposed house-building policy change have been slapped down by the ruling Labour group.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Stuart Kelly insisted that plans to lift the council’s housing restraint policy – targeting regeneration priority areas for new homes – were ill-thought out.
He claimed it would see developers “scrambling to buy up plots of lands and build their luxury flats in settled residential areas while abandoning those areas of desperate need of housing and development.”
And he warned: “If we allow this change to go ahead we will be abandoning parts of Birkenhead to years of dereliction.”
Councillor Pat Hackett, cabinet member for regeneration and planning strategy, challenged Cllr Kelly to “get his facts right.”
He said the council’s ongoing programmes would continue to support regeneration of key urban sites and if the Green Belt was to continue to be protected, more areas for housing areas needed to be identified.
Councillor Hackett added: “The borough does not now have enough housing land to meet the national requirement in the national planning policy framework to provide a five year supply of specific deliverable sites.
“The latest housing assessment shows that this cannot be achieved without removing the additional restrictions of the interim planning policy, to enable other sites within the existing urban area to contribute.
“If the council does not maintain an appropriate five-year supply, it is likely to lose planning appeals and could have costs awarded against it for unreasonable behaviour. “The emerging core strategy would be considered unsound and a planning inspector may require a review of the Green Belt to be undertaken immediately.
"The only way to prevent this happening is to remove the interim planning policy, to enable the supply of housing land to increase.”
Councillor Hackett added: “I would encourage Cllr Kelly to work in a constructive manner through the democratic channels and the ongoing six- week consultation.
"He and his colleagues also need to challenge his Government that is pushing through these changes that we all have to work with.”