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Cabinet to reaffirm commitment to protecting Green Belt

Wirral Council is continuing to press the government to lower its home building targets as more details are revealed about the outcome of a consultation on the Local Plan. 

Cllr George Davies, Cabinet member for Housing and Community Safety, will present a report to the Council’s Cabinet on 17th December, providing an update on the council’s progress towards agreeing a Local Plan. 

The report will describe how more detailed technical assessments on every piece of land included in the consultation will take place over the first half of 2019 and will confirm the council’s commitment to preserving as much of the borough’s Green Belt as possible. 

Cllr Davies said: “Making sure Wirral residents have a choice of good quality, attractive housing is vital. We accept we have to have a robust Local Plan so we are able to meet those needs.

“We also have a responsibility to our residents. They have told us, unequivocally, during the consultation that they do not wish to see Green Belt land developed for housing. We agree, and we have told government ministers the same thing. 

“While we know we need a Local Plan and are committed to developing one within the timeframe we have set out, we are also promising to do everything we can to protect our local environment and the Green Belt, which is so important to our residents. 

“We have consistently lobbied government to allow us to use the recent, more accurate household projection figures published by the Office of National Statistics in September this year. Using these figures would mean there would be no need to release hardly any Green Belt land for development. 

“But at the moment, the Government are telling us to aim for the higher target. They’re refusing to allow us – or any other local authority in the same situation – to lower the projections. This means we must continue to plan for 12,000 new homes over the next 15 years. 

“Government are running a consultation on their decision to ignore the latest ONS figures. We’ve taken part in this consultation, firmly telling Government we believe the lower figures – the ones which protect our Green Belt – are right for Wirral. I am calling on every Elected Member on Wirral Council, of every party, to lobby Government in the same way.” 

Cllr Davies added that over the next six months, acting on the advice of specialists, a dedicated team of council officers will be tasked with carrying out the detailed technical assessments required on all land which was included in the consultation.

He said: “We will do this so we can ensure our Local Plan does what it needs to do. 

“I want to thank every Wirral resident who took part in this consultation. I want to reassure them that we are on their side, and pledge to do everything in our power to protect our borough and our unique environment.”

The Cabinet meeting takes places at 10am on Monday 17 December and will be live streamed from the council website, wirral.gov.uk.