Artist's impression of a Leverhulme development

An example of what Leverhulme had hoped to deliver through its Leverhulme Vision project. Credit: via Mason Media

High Court rejects Leverhulme case for nearly 800 Wirral homes

Wirral Council’s original refusal of the developer’s plan to build on 110 acres of Green Belt has been upheld for a second time, with a High Court justice adding their voice to the Planning Inspectorate’s decision last year.

Leverhulme Estates had submitted eight applications seeking to build 788 homes and a 56-acre park on various plots of Green Belt land. The project included 300 affordable homes and was meant to address what the developer referred to as the borough’s “acute” housing need.

Wirral councillors rallied against the applications, saying that its emerging local plan shows how it can meet its housing need while still protecting the borough’s Green Belt. The applications were thus systematically refused in 2022.

Leverhulme appealed the decisions last year, only to have the Planning Inspectorate side with the council.

The developer then approached the High Court, arguing that the agency had not factored in Wirral’s five-year housing land supply or the status of the council’s local plan when making its decision.

Justice Lang failed to be moved by the developer’s case, which she described as “inarguable”, according to media reports. She said the Planning Inspectorate had evaluated the appeal correctly, ordering Leverhulme to pay both the council and the government’s legal fees.

Following the decision, Leverhulme has maintained that Wirral needs new family and affordable homes.

“Leverhulme remains, through all the processes taking place, best placed to help unlock Wirral’s housing shortage now and for future generations and to do so in an appropriate, viable and sustainable manner,” said Nigel McGurk, head of planning and development for Leverhulme.

“Wirral Council’s current trajectory will simply fail to deliver the mix of affordable and family housing that the borough urgently requires,” McGurk continued.

“Leverhulme will continue to highlight this and awaits with interest the response of the planning inspectors regarding the next steps in Wirral’s local plan process.”

The Wirral Local Plan 2021-2037 is currently undergoing a review by the Planning Inspectorate, having been submitted for examination in 2022. The plan includes the provision for 13,360 homes without any land release from the Green Belt.

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Credit to Wirral Councillors and the High Court for safeguarding invaluable greenspace for the next generation of Wirral residents!

By Anonymous

We don’t want houses built on our green belt!

By Elizabeth Knight

I don’t know how they, (Leverhulme Estates), have the audacity to mention “affordable”housing for local people, as that funnily enough is exactly why Leverhulme Estates was set up by Lord Leverhulme to look after local people, agreed times have moved on, but ask the current Leverhulme senior management team what affordable rents do they offer their rental properties for now & how quick are they to maintain them? They do not need to line their greedy pockets further at our expense.
It is unfair that they simply keep pushing knowing how the expense to keep doing this will harm our local council.
They must not be given a green light here or it will show how money talks…a bit like the recent Post Office scandal.

By Tina Davies

Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. Its true, more affordable housing may be needed, but not at the expense of green belt land, at least as long as brownfield land is available.

By Barbara Serres

McGurk’s comments are becoming increasingly divorced from reality and desperate. They’ve lost twice, this time with costs. This is nothing to do with housing need, and everything to do with greed. With their dominant land holdings on Wirral Leverhulme could be a force for good. Why don’t they just get together with the council and work with the community, not against them?

By Peter

Wirral ended up taking a much more thoughtful approach with it’s new plan focusing on urban redevelopment than many other nearby Councils.

But if they ever want the Borderlands railway line to be electrified, which is their policy, then they need to permit development around the existing training stations. This would help shift car traffic onto trains, improve labour mobility and reduce emissions.

Maybe next time Leverhulme can focus on transit oriented development and not solely cashing in. Seems like a bad play by the property owners and the planning authorities all round.

By DenseCity

It seemed such a forced ham fisted approach from the start, offering absolutely nothing back or in mitigation. What were they smoking over there?

By Geoff

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