Sunday, 7 August 2011

IMPORTANT !! - The Core Strategy

Although it might not be top of your list of things to do this week, making a reply to the Sefton Council's Core Strategy is important, please complete the online survey if you can spare just a couple of minutes. Replies must be submitted by this Friday 12th August.

Last year when we campaigned for a better future for Crosby Village we discovered the importance of Planning Policy in directing the decisions of Councillors and developers. The Core Strategy is our communities best, perhaps only, chance to shape and direct the actual policies that control what kind of development can take place across Crosby and in the Village.

Before highlighting the quick links to the survey - here is the background -

ABC is a community group which has the stated aim: ‘to bring about positive change for the residents of Crosby by celebrating its heritage and directing its future’

ABC is currently focused on promoting the regeneration of Crosby Village, by creating a positive and achievable vision for the village and wider area. ABC held a consultation event in April 2011, and has continued dialogue with local people, Councillors and Council Officers.

ABC believes that a clear, positive, commercially viable and popular Vision for Crosby can play an important role in attracting investment and development.
Any development must sit within the planning framework, and the Core Strategy is an important part of that framework, setting the tone and context for all development in the borough.

Consequently we are commenting on the Core Strategy as a key planning document, which will outline the approach to development in Crosby.

The more local people who make direct responses to Sefton Council expressing their own views on the Core Strategy the better.

ABC has not made any direct comment on the Green Belt or Greenspace Strategies.  Both of these follow on from the needs and direction of the Core Strategy.

Sefton’s own introduction …

Core Strategy Options Response form

We are currently preparing the Core Strategy for Sefton. This will be the key long-term plan that will help shape how our towns and villages, our coast and countryside. We are also consulting on a number of supporting studies, on housing, jobs, the Green Belt and Green Spaces. We want your views on all of these.

Issues and Challenges 

1(a)     Do you agree with the issues and challenges we have identified? (click here to see these)

ABC Response - No  

1(b)     Are there any other issues or challenges we need to consider? What are they are, and why do you think they are important? Or have we included any that are not important? Why aren’t they?

Whilst ABC does agree that issues A to E are important, we believe the overarching key issue is to ‘Improve the Quality of Sefton’s Places’.

Whilst a general statement we believe this needs to be stated as the Core Strategy needs a clear positive message.  Quality of Place is fundamental to many of the other issues and challenges identified.

We believe the emphasis currently given to the identified issues should be adjusted. We believe the most important is D – Thriving, whilst the attention paid to A - Housing across the Core Strategy is too dominant. In this the Core Strategy could have a clear relationship to economic development plans for the borough.

A Quality Homes and Neighbourhoods

Only items A4 & A5, make reference to issues relating to Quality or Neighbourhoods regarding vacancy levels and local distinctiveness, both of which we agree are very important. The apparent key focus, being identified as the first issue is housing need. Whilst important, and clearly a very complex subject which has demanded a lot of study and consideration, rather than being driven by statistical analysis first and foremost, producing seem surprising requirements, we believe the idea of Quality Places (leading to economic growth) should drive the strategy, with the necessary provision for potential new housing responding accordingly.

The need for more space for housing is explained in the extensive documentation, and the risk to Core Strategy approval is noted. However the argument that a declining population in Sefton requires additional new housing land seems unsustainable.
Smaller households, aging population and greater affluence explain the recent need more land, however since the financial crisis we wonder if these same expansionist pressures will continue. How has the analysis taken account of the big changes in the housing market and UK economy of recent years and months?  If the Core Strategy is based on evidence of past trends, how are these translated into the apparently different future we face?

Vision and Objectives

2(a)     Do you agree that the Vision and Objectives are appropriate and the right ones for Sefton? (See draft Core Strategy Options Paper Pages 22-24 - by clicking here).

ABC Response – No

2(b)     If not, what changes would you suggest?

Whilst the elements of the vision described by items 4.3 to 4.9 are all good (improved health, climate change, use of underused land & buildings, new homes, transport, employment, thriving local centres), we believe there should be a clear ‘Golden Thread’- an overarching, positive vision statement that sets an exciting target for the next 15 years. Such a ‘Golden Thread’ could move local and media conversations about the Core Strategy from worries about Green Belt to positive discussions about a distinct future for Sefton.

Item 4.2 contains good points, but not a strong core idea. Whilst regeneration of Bootle and Southport is important, all the places of Sefton should be encouraged to develop into better quality places, and the emphasis of the text should be on all the places of Sefton equally. 

Possible ideas for a ‘Golden Thread’ –

The Active Coast – one of England’s finest coastal boroughs.

The extent and diversity of our coastline is a wonderful asset, not currently reflected in the Core Strategy.  Few places in the UK have such a coastline, with beaches on their doorstep yet are simultaneously less than 30 minutes or an hour from a major city centre. Sefton should seek to take maximum advantage from this.

Based around its coast, Sefton could aim to be the North West’s premier tourist and leisure destination, and one of its most popular residential locations. Fulfilling these objectives it could secure additional employment and create thriving places.

Within this broad idea each distinct place could promote its own positive future plan. We think the Core Strategy should include clear ‘pen-portraits’ of potential futures for each of its places.

Southport – To re-establish itself as one of the country’s most popular, high quality, ‘classic resorts’.
Formby – To become the best small town (commuter town) in the North West. Improved accessibility to the motorway network, the coast, golf and sports facilities, and quality homes allow it to complete with any town in terms of quality of life.
Crosby – Liverpool’s best suburb, which benefits from its own clear identity as a distinctive town. With great schools, housing, beaches and a vibrant and popular centre (“the Village”), which serves the whole community whilst retaining historic character and distinctiveness. 
Bootle – A thriving port and office district support a growing range of commercial activity and employment. This activity provides the lead to wider regeneration.
Maghull – An increasingly accessible and desirable suburb. An improved town centre and improved links into the surrounding countryside and to the coast enhance its qualities.

An alternate or additional ‘Golden Thread’ could be ‘Sustainable Sefton’

The quality and proximity of agricultural land, accessibility by train, scale of our towns and population, and new coastal energy production combine to give Sefton some very strong sustainability credentials. These qualities could be developed to promote Sefton as one of the most sustainable boroughs, and consequently one of the best places to live, in the country.

The concept of a ‘Golden Thread’ is taken from an article and presentation about creating good plans currently on the Royal Town Planning Institute website –

We also highlight the recommendations of the Design Council/CABE document –


3(a)     How important is it that we identify enough land to meet Sefton’s housing needs?
(Please mark on a scale of 1 to 5 below. 1 = unimportant and 5 = very important).

ABC Response - 3 reasonably important, and it is very important to get the Core Strategy approved, but we think actual need in the future needs careful assessment. Note that item 4.15 of Housing Technical Paper states most recent DCLG Household Growth Projection for Sefton is only 320 homes p/a


4(a)     How important is it that we identify enough land for jobs and businesses in Sefton?
(Please mark on a scale of 1 to 5 below. 1 = unimportant and 5 = very important).

ABC Response – 5 very important


5(a)     Which option of our three do you think is the right option for Sefton?

ABC Response –

A version of Option 1 (urban containment), which focuses on quality of place and sustainability, reconsiders housing need /space required, and has less risk of not being approved by inspectors.

Last word on this - 

Whether you agree with our approach and responses or not, your own reply to the Core Strategy is important. To date the Council has only received 2000 replies, relatively few, and we would encourage you to promote Crosby's future .

You can see all the council information here -

And the quick on line response is here -

Thanks you for your interest..



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