A consultation process on plans by the Leverhulme Estate to build 830 new homes on green belt land in Wirral has started with the proposals likely to face fierce opposition. Tony McDonough reports
Major Wirral landowner Leverhulme has launched a pre-application consultation process over plans to build more than 800 new homes on seven green belt sites in the borough.
Leverhulme first unveiled its plans for the sites, which include locations in Pensby, Irby and Heswall, late in 2021. Both politicians and local residents are ready to oppose the plans with a petition already started.
It was the Lever family, led by industrialist William Hesketh Lever, that built the historic Port Sunlight factory and village. Today, the Leverhulme Estate owns and manages thousands of acres of land across Wirral.
It says it wants to create “much needed new homes” in “beautiful and sustainable communities” across the borough. Ahead of submitting planning applications to Wirral Council it has launched consultations on seven sites:
- A 0.82-hectare site located to the north of Gills Lane in Pensby, between Thorncroft Drive and Gills Lane Farm and stables. To provide up to 15 new homes. www.gillscentral.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 7.35-hectare site located to the north of Gills Lane in Pensby and to the west of Barnston Road. To provide up to 160 new homes. www.gillseast.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 3.92-hectare site located a short distance from the local centre of Pensby Road, Pensby. It sits to the north of Gills Lane, between the existing residential streets of Dale View Close, Gwendoline Close and Thorncroft Drive. To provide up to 100 new homes. www.gillswest.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 17.38-hectare site located to the north of Thingwall Drive, to the east of Glenwood Drive and to the west of Arrowe Park, Irby. To provide up to 310 new homes. www.glenwooddrive.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 3.60-hectare site located to the north of Raby Hall Road between the Autism Together complex and the residential neighbourhood on Blakeley Road at the edge of Bromborough. To provide up to 85 new homes. www.rabyeast.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 3.30-hectare site located to the north of Raby Hall Road, with built development proposed to the west of Raby Hall and a footpath link to the east. To provide up to 40 new homes. www.rabywest.consultationonline.co.uk
- A 8.36-hectare site located to the west of Barnston Road and north of Milner Road within easy walking distance of Heswall town centre and Heswall railway station. To provide up to 120 new homes. www.heswall.consultationonline.co.uk
Leverhulme says the consultation will show how it plans to “create beautiful new places that are distinctively ‘Wirral’ and which deliver the right mix of house sizes and affordable housing to meet local needs”.
Nigel McGurk, head of land and planning for Leverhulme, said: “Wirral has a major requirement for a mix of new housing including three and four-bedroom family homes and affordable housing.
This shortfall has been made worse due to a lack of meaningful progress being made on preparing a deliverable and viable Local Plan in recent years. The development sites being brought forward by Leverhulme will make a significant contribution towards helping meet the market and affordable housing needs of the local area and the wider borough.
“Combined, the proposed Leverhulme sites can create beautiful and sustainable communities where people want to live.
“Port Sunlight and Thornton Hough are long-standing examples of sustainable communities and what can be achieved by combining the long-term stewardship offered by Leverhulme with a commitment to health and wellbeing and legacy development.”
However, speaking to the Wirral Globe in January, Wirral West Labour MP Margaret Greenwood, said: “I would encourage anyone who cares about the environment to make sure they submit their objections to these proposals.”
She added: “The green belt is there to protect towns and villages from urban sprawl and to improve the quality of life of those who live and work in the area. It’s immensely important that we defend it.
“It also has an important part to play in our response to the climate and ecological emergency that we face, supporting habitats for wildlife and allowing nature to flourish.
Last year, Leverhulme published its vision document calling for a wider debate on viable, sustainable and deliverable development in Wirral. It stated that the estate’s landholding – more than 5,000 acres – gave it a unique capability to deliver benefits at a scale that will make a positive difference to many people’s lives.
Launching its consultation, Leverhulme says: “We are asking communities across Wirral to contribute their ideas as we prepare to bring forward developments across the borough.
“From new cycleways and footpaths, to enhanced biodiversity and habitats, they represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create beautiful, environmentally sustainable and life-enhancing communities, underpinned through good quality design.”