Wirral Core Strategy Local Plan - Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study
Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, Growth, said:
“As part of the extensive and detailed process of producing a Local Plan for Wirral, it is vital we have a full understanding of the employment land we have, and what we need in the future. This becomes even more important when we consider the huge investment interest in Wirral at the moment, through developments such as Wirral Growth Company. This report provides Cabinet with a thorough study of our employment land, and will help us as we move through the process of developing our full Local Plan during 2018.”
Councillor George Davies introduced a report by the Principal Forward Planning Officer that informed that in January 2017 Wirral Council had asked its retained consultants – Lichfields (assisted by Lambert Smith Hampton) to prepare a Borough-wide Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study [Wirral ELPS]. The Wirral ELPS updated the evidence base, replacing the existing Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study prepared by BE Group in 2012.
The report further informed that on 27 February 2017 (Minute 96 refers), when considering the results of further consultation on the Borough’s housing needs and land supply, the Cabinet had resolved that the future designation of existing employment land be not determined until the Employment Land and Premises Study Update had been completed and approved.
The report summarised that the Wirral ELPS drew on an assessment of local market conditions, engagement with local stakeholders and businesses, viability assessments of a range of typical industrial and office uses and a review of the current employment land portfolio to arrive at a recommended employment land supply for the Borough to inform the emerging Core Strategy Local Plan. Emphasis was placed on the suitability, deliverability and viability of sites and land for future employment use.
In addition, the report recommended employment land supply be included in the Local Plan comprise of 41 sites totalling 59.5 hectares net. A further 13 sites had also been identified at Wirral Waters as of strategic importance to the wider Liverpool City Region; 12 sites for mixed uses, where the final potential for future B Class employment uses was currently unknown; and 17 sites to be safeguarded for longer term employment uses.
The report supported the following pledges in the Wirral Plan 2020:
· Pledge Eight: Greater job opportunities in Wirral
· Pledge Ten: Increase inward investment
· Pledge Eleven: Thriving small businesses
The report was a key decision as the findings could affect a large number of residents and businesses in a large number of Wards in the Borough.
(1) the findings of the Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study 2017 be used to inform the content of the Council’s emerging Core Strategy Local Plan.
(2) It be RECOMMENDED TO THE COUNCIL that the Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study 2017 be approved as a material consideration for use by the Planning Committee in the determination of planning applications.
Further to the decision of the Cabinet, Councillor George Davies read a prepared statement in response to the news that Central Government intended to start the formal process of intervention set out in the Housing White Paper because the Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javid was concerned by the Council’s persistent failure, over many years, to get a Local Plan in place.
Councillor George Davies stated that:
"Sajid Javid and his Tory colleagues are dead wrong. It is for Wirral residents through Wirral Council to determine what our housing needs are and where new homes should be built. We neither welcome nor appreciate the Secretary of State's overtly political intervention. I also doubt very much that Steve Rotheram and our colleagues in the Liverpool City Region welcome being used as a pawn in the Government's continued attack on local authorities. If Sajid Javid is in disagreement with us and his own civil servants about our current Local Plan schedule, he is entitled to his opinion - but Wirral is not going to accept Whitehall bureaucrats coming up and telling us we must meet the Tory central government targets for building on our Green Belt.
We have said repeatedly we want to see extant permissions acted upon and brownfield developments like the ones just announced at Wirral Waters actioned first. Wirral's housing needs are not the same as Central London or the South East. We need a mix of affordable homes, first time buyer homes and housing for families and an ageing population across the Borough. Wirral alone should decide how best to achieve that, Tory Ministers are not needed."