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Wirral argues for housing reduction in face of population estimates

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Wirral Council’s leader Cllr Phil Davies has used figures released by the Office for National Statistics as proof Wirral was right to tell ministers that it “should not have to slavishly follow the Government’s national formula” on housing targets, as household growth in the borough is set to be lower than predicted.

The estimates are likely to add fuel to the ongoing dispute between Wirral Council and the Department for Communities & Local Government over Wirral’s Local Plan. Wirral had been heavily criticised by the Government for its lack of Local Plan earlier this year, with then-Housing Secretary Sajid Javid writing to the authority due to “consistent failure” and “no exceptional circumstances to justify… such little progress.”

The council hit back following the letter, arguing the Government was “dead wrong” and said the local authority “neither welcomed nor appreciated the Secretary of State’s overtly political intervention.” When the draft Local Plan was released in July, the council said it was pushing a “brownfield-first” strategy and was resistant to Government figures which would see it need to release Green Belt.

Wirral was set a target of 12,000 homes by 2035, or approximately 800 a year, determined based on the Government’s formula using economic and demographic data.

However, the Office for National Statistics has released revised figures which Wirral Council said indicates the target should be much lower, closer to 500.

Cllr Phil Davies said: “Yesterday we received notification from the Office of National Statistics that the base figures for household growth for Wirral are to be downgraded to more accurately reflect the real changes in population we are experiencing here in the borough.

“The new ONS figures published indicate that the number of new homes actually required is in fact less than 500 – nearly half of the number first proposed.

“We have argued that the original figures were too high and were leading to a miscalculation which threatened our Green Belt. Indeed, I wrote to the minister advocating that we should not have to slavishly follow the Government’s national formula – and we have been proved right.

“We now need to review what this means for our Local Plan and we will be writing to Government ministers to reaffirm our commitment to developing a robust Local Plan but urging them to take these new calculations into account so we can protect our Green Belt.”

Wirral is currently consulting on its draft Local Plan; comments are open until 26 October. More information can be found at:  www.wirral.gov.uk/localplan

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The irony. It’s self perpetuating. No economic or housing growth due to lack of ability to grow, lack of capability or willingness to support growth (stifled by no sites and/or fit for purpose plan). The economically mobile businesses and residents leave and / or don’t come – evidenced in population estimates. So we don’t need any growth! The right sites in the right places please.

By Wirral Resident

a peninsula of perennial parody … no wonder everyone wants to leave … last one out switch off the lights !

By wot no peeps !

The Wirral’s sluggish growth can be attributed to the underperformance of the city centre. Well paid professionals would love to move into a nice big house in a decent area, if there were the jobs for them to move for. If the jobs were there in Liverpool city centre, the Wirral would be a prime candidate for housing growth, both in its urban and suburban areas.

What’s the point of people decrying lack of development if you aren’t going to address the reason? If you want growth, it’s not housing you need to look at.

By Mike

Mikes comments spot on, LCC should be encouraging office led development and spec sites as Salford did. The economic benefits are felt much wider afield than a residential led development boom.

By J

Just look at Birkenhead, the Precinct is losing many major shops with a knock on effect to the rest, and the market is becoming more like a giant car boot sale

By Geoff Jones

There are NO suitable brownfield sites left – that’s right – let’s stick all the housing in the East of Wirral and let the over 50’s well off enjoy rolling fields in the West. Lack of supply = increased house prices in the exact areas you need family housing to attract new blood and allow local kids to grow up and remain in the area. The collapse of community beckons.
The economic vibrancy of the West of Wirral is dying as no-one can afford to live there. Bet there are plenty of school places in West Wirral. This is a contrived effort to let those NIMBY’s in huge properties continue to avoid housebuilding in their back yards – collapse the population in West Wirral to reduce housing numbers. Where is the integrity?????

By Housing professional

Deals have already been done, this is why we see Councillor Davies scurrying back to central government.

He could just use the latest ONS data as the NPFF tells him to do, but that wouldn’t keep the done deals on track.

Dont be fooled Wirral, the Local Plan will steam role ahead and take your greenbelt with it, For an Area like Wirral there is no actual need for this extra housing, there is however a need for additional employment.

This will end in a complete mess as Mr Davies thinks he can make it look like its all the Governments fault. When he does finally submit a local plan however It is likely to be rejected.

By Wirral Planner

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