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Whilst the Green Belt political panto ploughs on in the local papers , here at Wirral Leaks we provide you with a special cut out and keep report from ‘The Prof’ which we think is the definitive word on the matter. There is a summary of his findings at the start. But for those who want to be better informed about the Green Belt debate there is a full analysis.
HOUSING & GREEN BELT LAND REQUIREMENTS to 2032
: WIRRAL COUNCIL FAKE NEWS
- The council Green Belt ‘release plan’ covers ~8 square miles or 4,900 acres.
- This land could support 71,000 homes (at typical NW density of 14.6 dw / acre).
- But the government / council housing need forecast is for 12,000 houses.
- So the GB land fraction required is only ~17% of the council ‘release plan’.
- However based on ACTUAL population and household number changes in
the last decade and allowing for lower economic growth post Brexit and a slowdown in UK life expectancy improvement, probable new housing need is 200 to 300 houses per annum NOT 800.
- So the land required would be only ~6% of the GB ‘release plan’ in that case.
- But the council says it has identified Brown Field sites for 2,400 houses and will build there first. If so the fraction of land required from the GB ‘release plan’ would be only ~3%
- The council has deliberately exaggerated the ‘Green Belt Problem’ and caused great distress to many Wirral residents for purely political reasons. After the Green Belt review in December 2018 they will claim that they have ‘heroically’ saved most of the land on their GB ‘release plan’… land that was never needed in the first place.
- Even so some sites listed will draw the short straw since building on Green Belt is more profitable than building on Brown Field sites for the developers. The council will gain from higher rates from Green Belt luxury homes. Very few ‘affordable houses’ will be built because of the ‘viability test’ loophole. The developers gain; the politicians gain; but what about the Wirral residents who elected them who are routinely treated with contempt ?
Wirral Housing Need Forecasts 2014 – 2032
& Green Belt Land Requirements: Fake News
The government has told Wirral Council that they must build 800 homes per annum or 12,000 in total over the period 2014 to 2032. Despite having granted planning permission already for ~ 16,000 dwellings, mainly on brown field sites, the Council have decided to seek out landowners and developers ready to ‘release’ Green Belt land for housing development. This has led to 50 sites being identified (Figure 4). This land amounts to ~8 square miles of Wirral countryside. Both government and council have ignored the existing ~6,000 empty properties on the Wirral. The government and the ‘land bankers’ such as Peel Holdings have been blamed by the Council for this catastrophic situation. However the Council commissioned Housing Study of 2016 found a housing requirement of 835 to 1,235 units per annum. In fact the same complex methodology underlies both housing estimates. It is at heart still based on guesswork and produces a remarkably wide range of forecasts. The politicians can find almost any number that suits them politically. In the case of the Council this was a desire to promote their miraculous economic growth policies for Wirral.
Given the uncertainties a better approach is to consider actual recent and longer term population and household growth rates and growth rate ranges and base forecasts on these with possible adjustments for general economic growth prospects e.g Brexit effects. We do that below and find housing build rates of 200 to 300 per annum, not 800. At this level the amount of Green Belt needed (ignoring the brown belt land available) would be only ~6% of the land targeted by the Council for development release. At 800 homes per annum the fraction of Green Belt needed would only be ~17% of the Council plan. Wirral residents are being fed highly distressing fake news and alternative facts by the Council. We should all be asking why? Quo bono? Who benefits? It is certainly not Wirral residents.
2 The Wirral SHMA and Housing Needs Study 2016
This study was commissioned by Wirral Council and completed by the Nathan Litchfield Consultancy. It is 263 pages long. It uses approved data from government sources and approved analysis methods commonly used by other local authorities. It freely references work by other groups which is commendable. It fully reports its assumptions and considers over a dozen alternative scenarios. It is a comprehensive, workman-like job. Sadly government departments and councils do not always fully report or understand what their consultants tell them about the uncertainties in modelling and forecasting. Quite often the politician can take almost any number that suits him from such a report. Let’s start with the report output and the 13 scenarios shown in Figure 1.
We see that the forecast of houses needed by 2032 varies from 3,400 to 22,200 (the most extreme scenario of building 46,530 ‘affordable’ houses has not been considered here as the report drops it). This range covers a factor of 6.6 X. The dotted line is the 800 houses per annum target imposed by government (but also compatible with Litchfield’s final proposal to the council). The thick line shows the result using the actual Wirral annual delivery of 383 houses per annum in the recent decade.
The 383 figure reflects recent reality in terms of Wirral demographics, economic migration and the state of the house building market. If forecasters, councils and governments insist on very different numbers for housing growth they should be required to show cause…particularly if the forecast impacts negatively on the quality of life of large numbers of Wirral residents and threatens the loss of irreplaceable high quality farm land and core biodiversity refuges in the Green Belt. Despite the fancy talk of ‘evidence based’ planning by governments the fact is much of what passes for analysis is guess work often based on unstable base data as we will see. Forecasts are often politics based not evidence based.
More – Green Belt : Do You Want Facts and Figures or Fake News ?
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