Leverhulme plans for development on land including sites in Heswall and Pensby rejected

By Ed Barnes

19th Oct 2022 | Local News

An impression of how the 290 proposed homes near Irby might look
An impression of how the 290 proposed homes near Irby might look

Six controversial planning applications that would see hundreds of homes built on green belt land in Wirral have reportedly been rejected.

The plans, from Leverhulme Estates, concern a huge area of the West Wirral countryside including land at Heswall, Pensby and Clatterbridge.

The applications that have reportedly been rejected proposed up to 504 homes, nearly half of the total 1,038 homes proposed by Leverhulme this year.

A seventh application, which would see 290 homes built, will move forward to a Wirral council meeting next week. This is because of the number of houses proposed by the application and has been recommended to be rejected.

The officer decision has not officially been confirmed by the Council but will be before the deadline of October 28.

The plans have faced significant public opposition from councillors and the public with councillors voting to "protect Wirral's green belt" last week and thousands signing petitions.

Leader of the Conservatives in Wirral, Councillor Tom Anderson said: "This is absolutely the right decision," adding, "it's time developers got with the programme."

Leverhulme said the planning applications would help the council achieve its housing targets and "create beautiful new places that are distinctively 'Wirral' and which deliver the right mix of house sizes and affordable housing to meet local needs."

Councillors from all parties argued that the proposals were at odds with Wirral's draft local plan that will see land already built on prioritised for development, known as brownfield.

Leverhulme now has the right to an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, a UK government agency, but Cllr Stuart Kelly, chair of the council's planning committee, believes the council could defend its position.

Cllr Kelly said: "I am confident council officers will be able to robustly defend the decisions and I am sure petitioners will also be ready to make their case to inspectors."

"These applications have caused a lot of concern amongst Wirral residents and they will be relieved that this part of the planning process is reaching a conclusion. 

"Six of the applications have been assessed by Wirral planning officers and found not to comply with our local planning policies in relation to protecting green belt land. They will now be refused by officers by the deadline.

"The seventh must be determined by a council committee because of its size. It comes to us with a recommendation to refuse. We will meet on October 27 to hear the arguments of the applicant and petitioners."

Reacting to the news, Cllr Anderson said: "Wirral residents and green belt campaigners will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that, at last, their voices are being heard. We've been saying it loud and clear for long enough – hands off our precious green belt. It's time developers got with the programme and followed what is set out in the long awaited draft Local Plan."

An application for a new green space by Leverhulme, intended to support the housing applications, is still being considered by the council. An eighth housing application, for 240 homes, near Greasby is also expected later this year.

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