John H Hutchinson

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
This FoIA request has been made necessary by the refusal of Cllr Hackett to reply to my email and several prompts.

They relate to the Local Plan as discussed in Minute 37 & 38 "the Resolution of Council" of Council Minutes Monday, 10 September 2018 that can be read at
https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/document...

A. Was the Government's target of 12,000 new homes based upon WMBC's own assessment of housing need?

If these figures are in the public domain, where are they, please? An e-link will suffice.

B. How does Council's recognition of the importance of the Green Belt gell with its acceptance that there is insufficient brownfield land to accommodate the housing target given that there is no alternative to the use of the Green Belt to meet the shortfall?

E. With regards to Point 3 of the Resolution, what representations to the Government against the issuing of top-down housing targets have been made and what did those representations achieve, please?

F. With regards to Point 4 of the Resolution, what strong representations to owners of brownfield land have been made before and since the passing of the Resolution and what did those strong representations achieve, please?

G. With regards to Point 5 of the Resolution, what letters were written to Wirral’s MPs requesting they lobby Parliament to introduce legislation preventing land-banking and what replies did they receive?

H. With regards to Point 6 of the Resolution, what was the result of supporting the timetable for submitting a Local Plan and does that achievement continue, please?

J. With regards to Point 7 of the Resolution, what is the process for ensuring consultation on Green Belt sites and have local residents taken part and with what results, please?

K. Why does Council have problems meeting its annual targets of homes to be built?

L. The minute is confused regarding the number of homes that Peel can deliver. What is the number of homes that Peel can deliver on its land?

M. The minute says "Council therefore calls on Cabinet to work with, rather than against, Peel Land and Property Group".

By what means, please, has Council been working against Peel Group?

Yours faithfully,

John H Hutchinson

Dalton, Chelsea, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Hutchinson,

 

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

 

Please see our response below, as responded to by Cllr Pat Hackett.

 

A. Was the Government's target of 12,000 new homes based upon WMBC's own
assessment of housing need? 

If these figures are in the public domain, where are they, please?  An
e-link will suffice.

Local Housing need is calculated using the Standard method set down in
national Planning Policy and Government has directed that the 2014 ONS
projections should be used to calculate this. This gives the Local Housing
Need figure. The figures are in the public domain and can be found in the
Council Local plan Action Plan submitted to Government in April 2018.  

 

B. How does Council's recognition of the importance of the Green Belt gell
with its acceptance that there is insufficient brownfield land to
accommodate the housing target given that there is no alternative to the
use of the Green Belt to meet the shortfall?

The Council is seeking to meet its housing and employment needs within the
existing urban area meaning that Green Belt release will not be required.
The approach will be set out in the Council’s draft Local Plan at
Regulation 18 and then this will be consulted on in January 2020.

 

E. With regards to Point 3 of the Resolution, what representations to the
Government against the issuing of top-down housing targets have been made
and what did those representations achieve, please?

The Council has responded to Government consultation on the ONS
projections and the results of this are on the MHCLG web site. Wirral
argued that the 2016 ONS projections should be sued but Government have
directed that the 2014 ONS projections should be used

 

F. With regards to Point 4 of the Resolution, what strong representations
to owners of brownfield land have been made before and since the passing
of the Resolution and what did those strong representations achieve,
please?

All owners of brownfield sites have been contacted and the Council is
working with them to bring forward development for their sites. This has
resulted in a number of additional sites which can now be included in the
housing trajectory reducing the pressure on the Green belt.

 

G. With regards to Point 5 of the Resolution, what letters were written to
Wirral’s MPs requesting they lobby Parliament to introduce legislation
preventing land-banking and what replies did they receive?

My understanding is that the previous Leader (Councillor Phil Davies)
wrote to the Secretary of State and had a number of discussions with our
MP’s. This is an issue which is still under discussion nationally I
understand but I am not aware of any current legislation. I cannot recall
seeing a response from Government on this matter but assume it will come
nationally once they have resolved a number of other issues.

 

H. With regards to Point 6 of the Resolution, what was the result of
supporting the timetable for submitting a Local Plan and does that
achievement continue, please?

Council on 14 October 2019 approved the latest version of the Local
Development Scheme which sets out the timetable for the Local Plan. This
is available on the website and by webcast. This is being achieved

 

J. With regards to Point 7 of the Resolution, what is the process for
ensuring consultation on Green Belt sites and have local residents taken
part and with what results, please? 

The Council will shortly be producing its draft Local Plan at Regulation
18 and this will be consulted on for eight weeks commencing in January
2020.

 

K. Why does Council have problems meeting its annual targets of homes to
be built?

Please read the Council’s Housing Delivery Test Action Plan, dated August
2019, on the Council’s website which provides the answer to this question
and shows the actions that the Council are taking.

 

L. The minute is confused regarding the number of homes that Peel can
deliver.   What is the number of homes that Peel can deliver on its land?

The extant planning permission is around 13,500 residential units. How
many they actually build will depend on the market, viability and density.
The Council is working with Peel to maximize the residential development
potential of Wirral Waters.

 

M.  The minute says "Council therefore calls on Cabinet to work with,
rather than against, Peel Land and Property Group".

By what means, please, has Council been working against Peel Group?

The Council has not been obstructing Peel. The Council is working with
Peel on an on-going basis to discuss delivery of housing in Wirral Waters,
grant opportunities, viability issues, transport infrastructure
requirements and other development related issues.

 

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
to ask for an internal review of the refusal of the information
requested.  Please direct any request for an internal review to
[Wirral Borough Council request email] and your request will be allocated for
review.

 

You do also have the right to complain to the information Commissioner, if
you are dissatisfied with the outcome of any internal review,
https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

I trust this assists you with your enquiries.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Chelsea Dalton

Information Management Officer

Business Management - ICT

Treasury Building

Argyle Street

Birkenhead

Wirral

CH41 1AH

Tel: 0151 666 5201

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John H Hutchinson

Dear Dalton, Chelsea,
Thank you for your response.

Regarding (A), may it be assumed that the figures quoted are those calculated by Council based upon the data that it has compiled and holds?

What is the total number of homes required to be built?

I shall be grateful if you will provide e-links as Council's website is complex and responds as required only if the precise question is asked. In cases such as this, it is always of assistance to provide the e-links.

For (B), thank you. I am sure that we shall all be glad to read that all of the Green Belt inside the Borough's boundary is safe from development.

If my omission of items (C) and (D) caused confusion, please accept my apologies. These were specifically directed to Cllr Hackett, for whose reply I am grateful.

For (E), I shall be grateful if you will provide e-links as Council's website is complex and does not necessarily respond as required.

For (F), I shall be grateful if you will provide e-links as Council's website is complex and does not necessarily respond as required provided that this does not breach any privacy conditions.

For (G), your response is incomplete as you have the understanding that I do not. I shall be grateful for a substantive reply to

"With regards to Point 5 of the Resolution, what letters were written to
Wirral’s MPs requesting they lobby Parliament to introduce legislation
preventing land-banking and what replies did they receive?"

For (H), I shall be grateful if you will provide e-links as Council's website is complex and does not necessarily respond as required.

For (J), thank you.

For (K), I shall be grateful if you will provide e-links as Council's website is complex and does not necessarily respond as required.

For (L), I shall be grateful if you will send me the e-link to the correcting minute.

For (M), the minute is clear in saying that Council is working against Peel Land and Property Group that is contradicted by your reply in which you say clearly that "Council has not been obstructing Peel."

Both cannot be correct. Which statement is true, please? One or other is an incorrect statement. Elected members or Tax-payers might have been misled.

I shall be grateful if you will send me the e-link to the correcting minute.

Yours sincerely,

John H Hutchinson