West Lancs consults on 15-year local plan

West Lancashire Council has started consultation into its preferred options for the local plan, including release of green belt land for housing and Edge Hill University.

The largely rural borough contains more green belt land than any other in England. The council says land must be released for development to allow growth in Burscough and Ormskirk.

The proposal is to reserve land at Yew Tree Farm in Burscough for 500 homes, 27 acres of employment land and new community infrastructure. There would also be 250 homes at Grove Farm, High Lane, Ormskirk, and 27 acres for Edge Hill University in St Helen's Road, Ormskirk.

Further sites would be ring-fenced in green belt for 'Plan B' development if required due to excessive demand at a later stage.

The council states: "It is anticipated that the Yew Tree Farm and Grove Farm sites will only begin to be developed from 2020 onwards, allowing time to deliver sites within existing built-up areas first and to resolve waste water treatment infrastructure constraints affecting those sites. No more than 60 ha of Green Belt will be required for release to meet development and associated infrastructure needs for 2012-2027. This is only 0.17% of the 34,630 ha of Green Belt in the Borough. Taking into account the other land to be removed from the Green Belt and safeguarded, a further 75 ha of Green Belt will also be released, bringing the total Green Belt release to approximately 135 ha, which represents 0.39% of the existing Green Belt. Therefore, over 90% of the Borough will still be designated as Green Belt and this will be preserved and protected from development in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework."

The overall local plan contains a higher housing target of 4,650 new homes, compared to 4,500 in previous plans, but fewer homes in Skelmersdale. There is also a lower target of 205 acres for employment land.

The consultation runs from 5 January to 17 February.

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