Rainford Action Group

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Press Release – 14/02/2019

Campaign group putting together “robust response” to St Helens Local Plan

– Rainford Action Group says no evidence green belt land needs to be destroyed

– Group working with experts to make “compelling case” to the Planning Inspector

– Brexit and the climate crisis show the importance of saving protected land.

Rainford Action Group is preparing a “robust response” to the St Helens Local Plan and will make a “compelling case” to the Planning Inspector that destroying protected land in St Helens is “unjustifiable”.

The group has enlisted expert professional advice following a fundraising effort.

These professionals are helping Rainford Action Group respond to the St Helens Local Plan, which was approved by St Helens Council last year. A consultation on the plan closes on March 13.

The council included a huge piece of grade one agricultural land in Rainford for development. Testing on the field, which is owned by the estate of Lord Derby, began this week.

But Rainford Action Group says the site, between Higher Lane and Rookery Lane, should be saved. It’s been earmarked for 259 new houses.

James Wright, chair of Rainford Action Group, said: “Planning law states that green belt land can only be released if exceptional circumstances are shown to exist. The Draft Local Plan barely mentions exceptional circumstances and provides no evidence to justify destroying protected land. There are no exceptional circumstances in St Helens so the green belt should stay exactly as it is.

“Throughout this whole process there has been this pretence that St Helens is some kind of boom town with people flocking to live here. The reality, as all residents know, is very different.

“However much we may wish the situation to be different, wishful thinking doesn’t count in planning law. This borough has had a falling population for 30 years and has some of the lowest house prices in the North West. The facts don’t support a green belt review so protected land must be saved.”

The group is currently drawing up its response to the Local Plan with the support of professional planning experts.

James Wright said: “We’re putting together a robust response to the plan and believe we have a compelling case that destroying protected land is unjustified.

“With Brexit now days away, the ability to grow our own food in this country has never been more important so destroying some of the most fertile land in the country would be reckless in the extreme. And with each new day bringing fresh details of the climate crisis our planet faces, we should be looking to save rural land not build on it.

“We hope as many people as possible respond to the planning inspector and point out the obvious flaws in this latest plan.”