Leverhulme plans for 240 homes on Greasby greenbelt land rejected as the past collides with the present

By Ed Barnes

9th Feb 2023 | Local News

Anti Leverhulme protestors outside Wallasey Town Hall. Picture: Ed Barnes
Anti Leverhulme protestors outside Wallasey Town Hall. Picture: Ed Barnes

240 homes on greenbelt land near Greasby were rejected after concerns were raised about the remains of a Stone Age site "6,000 years older than Stonehenge."

The homes would have been built on land surrounding Greenhouse Farm (also known as Appleby's Farm), and the proposal was the latest in a series of applications by the Leverhulme Estate to build homes on countryside and farm land across Wirral.

Leverhulme said the 240 homes, 76 being affordable, will become "an attractive extension to Greasby providing beautiful homes, set on leafy streets, reflecting the design ethos of Leverhulme" with "new green spaces including a community orchard, wetland features and play areas."

In total, eight housing applications have been submitted by Leverhulme that would see more than 1,000 homes built as well as plans for a green space.

All nine applications have now been rejected by Wirral Council but Leverhulme has already appealed the eight decisions made last year. They have asked for a public inquiry which is expected to begin in the summer.

Nigel McGurk, Leverhulme's head of land and planning, said it was making the applications because "this need has arisen because of Wirral Council's failure over many years to provide for any meaningful delivery of new homes, especially affordable homes."

The plans have been opposed by councillors in every party who argue the local authority's draft Local Plan, which has a policy to only develop on brownfield sites, will provide enough houses on the Wirral. The final application was rejected unanimously at a meeting on February 9.

Those opposing the application, with petitions of more than 6,000, said the plans would put pressure on local services, pointed to a lack of public transport in Greasby, and called for a proper excavation of the site.

Previously a Neolithic blade from the Stone Age, Roman coins, and the foundations of old settlements 6,000 years older than Stonehenge and older than the Egyption pyramids have been found.

According to one campaigner, Liverpool Museums described it as "almost certainly to be the earliest dwelling found in Britain."

Phil Simpson, a leading campaigner, said: "This proposal is purely for greed not for need. If the landowner, Leverhulme Estate, really wants to demonstrate building houses for our communities in Wirral, then they would be better advised to work with our council and build houses people tell us they need."

Gail Jenkinson, who started a petition that got over 5,000 signatures, said the plans put homes already at risk of flooding along Arrowe Brook at even more risk.

She said there were 12 sewage overflow sites between Arrowe Park and Moreton and wanted "no development near Arrowe Brook until sewage infrastructure is replaced and is proven to be fit for purpose"

She added: "I and the Greasby residents at risk of flooding implore you to reject this application and safeguard my residents' homes and the public health."

David Burgess-Joyce, a councillor for Greasby, said the people against the application were in favour of houses being built, adding "this is not a room full of Nimbys."

He said he "felt lucky to live here" and criticised developers saying the council has "seen an assault from those who wish to make hay at our expense."

Before councillors went to a vote, Chair Stuart Kelly said Leverhulme had accepted the application failed on two tests to build on the greenbelt and he believed the third, that there were "very special circumstances", did not apply in this case.

He added it undermined Birkenhead regeneration projects and "on all counts the application fails and should not proceed tonight."

     

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