Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Liverpool Labour threaten City's green spaces - Flo Clucas 3 May

Liverpool’s Green Spaces threatened by council drive for 37,000 new homes, says Cllr Flo Clucas

Greenfield sites and open spaces in Liverpool big enough to cover the size of more than 100 football pitches are being earmarked for housing development, Lib Dem leader Cllr Flo Clucas reveals today.
Cllr Clucas fears an ambitious city wide plan for 37,000 new homes threatens the city’s prized green spaces.
She said: “In the 1980s the  City Council were accused of selling off the family silver. If this huge land disposal is approved the council will be accused of selling off the crown jewels.”
Cllr Clucas said alarm bells sounded when she read a council report calling for 37,000 new homes to be built over the next 16 years.
Initially 85% of the new homes were earmarked to be built in and around the city centre on brownfield sites. The other 15% were to be built in other parts of the city.
But in a recent change of plan it is now proposed to build 30% of the total – more than 11,000 homes – in Liverpool suburbs, with several thousand earmarked on green spaces and former schools and playing fields.
Cllr Clucas added: “When I saw the figures I realised the only way to create this high level of home construction would be to sell green sites and open spaces.
“I then discovered the council had hired a firm of development consultants to look at the availability of hundreds of sites in the site suitable for new housing.
“Each site has been carefully examined and scored as to its suitability, even detailing how many homes could be built on each site.
“What I find alarming is many of the sites would only accommodate small numbers of homes, but when you look at the locations on a map and add up the totals you realise this is the biggest ever assault on our cherished green spaces. This doesn't include potential developments within what is known as Liverpool's Green Wedge from Woolton to Calderstones and Sefton Park, which faces possible incursions as well.
“If the council is doing this merely as a fishing exercise, why go to the expense of hiring land experts to examine hundreds of sites.
“We should be insisting on using up brownfield sites for new homes. I was shell-shocked when I read the dozens of individual site reports.”
Consultants Roger Tym and Partners carried out the detailed examination of each site for the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.
Added Cllr Clucas: “I have copies of each assessment report and around 30 relate to what are described as Greenfield sites and another 16 relate to former schools and school playfield fields. This is potentially a serious assault on our green spaces in Liverpool.
“Building around 2,800 on these green spaces will ruin what is one of the ace cards we have in Liverpool – our wonderful green acres, envied by cities all over the UK.
Green sites earmarked for new housing span the city from Woolton, Allerton , Childwall, Aigburth, Anfield West Derby, Wavertree, Picton, Old Swan,  Knotty Ash, Greenbank, Croxteth to Mossley Hill where 280homes could be built in the grounds of the Univerity of Liverpool Carnatic and Dale Halls. More than 70 homes could even be built on the site of the council’s Greenhill Nursery, currently home of the city’s world famous orchid collection. The consultants say 77 homes could be created at Calderstones Park Mansion House and Stables.
Said Cllr Clucas: “We need to look at sites for new house building, but selecting dozens and dozens of greenspace areas is a backward step, I will fight to preserve these areas for future generations to enjoy.”
The details emerged as a result of a strategy document known as The Liverpool Local Development Framework which sets out the city's needs for housing and economic development over the next few decades. Part of the document's role is to allocate sites for housing and other other developments. The document recognises as significant the doubling of proposed suburban housing development to 30% of the planned needs.
“The document says the strategy is supported by consultation responses in 2010, but I have never been asked for my views of whether we should raid our green spaces and I don't know of any other people who have been asked,” added Cllr Clucas.