Halton Draft Allocations Local Plan (DALP)
I am responding to the consultation on the DALP, my views are set out below which relate to my constituency of Widnes, West Runcorn & Hale Village and have been submitted to the consultation.
I am very concerned about a number of proposals contained in the DALP document. I would urge my constituents to read the DALP and submit their own comments to the consultation, the closing date to do so is Thursday 15th February. You can find the details here.
Loss of Green Belt
The plan proposes a substantial loss of Green Belt in Halebank and North Widnes including Derby Road which, in such a densely urbanised area as my constituency, we can ill afford to have happen. I oppose development on any Green Belt in my constituency. The land provides an important visual amenity to residents and opportunity to walk, run or cycle in countryside and the outdoors. These areas contribute to the health and wellbeing of local people both for physical and mental health. As para 3.8, page 17 of the document states “Health has been identified as a key challenge for the borough……” Removing Green Belt or valued Green Space does not help with this challenge.
I am not convinced that these plans adequately take account of the increased pressure on our roads, schools and health facilities. We know that many of our schools are full and parents are increasingly being denied their school choice for their children. Also, by way of example, the roads in North Widnes at peak times are very congested, large queues of traffic on the local road network are a regular occurrence. My constituents in Halebank have also raised with me the impact extra traffic might have on Ditton Bridge.
In addition, these areas are crucial for bio-diversity, where birds and wildlife generally thrive and give residents who walk and run there great enjoyment.
I also have concerns that the loss of Green Belt means urban sprawl bringing the boundary of Halton ever closer to that of Knowsley. I do not believe the proposals to build on Green Belt are justified.
I agree with the comments on page 25 about the need for urban renewal in Halton and that priority will be given to the development of previously developed land. However, I believe the council should look again at what brownfield sites could be developed and if the problem is with the number of sites that are contaminated, I am happy to work with the Council to make representations to government for grants to clean up the land; rather than seeing our Green Belt taken. Again, with any development we need to make sure that the infrastructure, roads schools and health facilities can cope.
I do not support the loss of any Green Space in my constituency unless there is a clear benefit to the local community and the local community are in support and agreement.
I do not support the loss of any playing field, again, these are vitally important to the health and wellbeing of my constituents. I am concerned that in the technical supporting documents some playing fields have a comment that should they cease to be used as playing fields they could be developed. Some are in private ownership. The council should ensure all playing fields are protected.
I fully support the proposal to maintain the land currently occupied by Widnes Golf Club as designated Green Space. If this was ever developed it would change the character of the whole area, impact on bio-diversity and result in significant additional strain on the local road network. In addition, it would increase pressure on school places, making it even more difficult for children who live on the existing estates to find a place at Wade Deacon and potentially other nearby schools.
Runcorn Town Centre.
I have had many complaints over the years from my constituents in Runcorn about the steady decline of shopping facilities in the Old Town. I note the Council’s comments on Page 163. This plan provides an opportunity to take steps to help bring about more investment in Runcorn Town Centre and increase the footfall. Both the Unlock Runcorn project, to re-open the stretch of the canal to the Ship Canal and the work on the Silver Jubilee Bridge presents an opportunity to improve access to the town centre and Runcorn Railway Station.
I note the comments on page 73. I support the need for Ditton Station to be re-opened especially with the planned re-opening of the Halton Curve, which I have long campaigned for. I am regularly contacted by my constituents about this issue.
Finally I have had a number of constituents who have contacted me to say they do not find the DALP accessible and it is confusing given the various supporting documents.
Derek Twigg MP