Labour wants the Tory Government to impose planning policy in Liverpool

Norfolk Street

It’s because Labour are rabidly following Tory housing policy in Liverpool that we are stuck with sites like this that have seen no building work for 12 months

I have today written to the Head of the Paid Service of Liverpool Council demanding immediate action to recruit a City Planning Officer after the post has been left unfilled for 18 months. My move comes days after the Government announced that Liverpool, along with just 14 other councils, would face intervention because of the Council’s failure to produce a Local Development Framework which is now 6 years overdue.

In my e-mail to the Head of the Paid Service I have made clear the scale of the problem. This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2001. Much has changed since then.

I believe that there is a hidden agenda here. I believe that Mayor Anderson wants the Tory Government to decide land use policy in the City because at the end of the day the Labour administration in Liverpool is delivering Tory housing policy. From the partnership with Redrow to complicity in the sale of dodgy developments to investors throughout the World; from shoddily built student accommodation to the building of yet more flats on land zoned for industry and commerce Joe Anderson has been doing what the Tories want. Wouldn’t it be easier for him politically if he could blame the Government for doing what he wants to do all along?

Of course, there could be a simpler solution – Labour just doesn’t know how important the LDF is because it doesn’t understand it. We got two clues about this last week.

Firstly, in Council Cllr Small quoted an Echo front page article of something that I had said about housing need in 1981. He claimed that as I was saying something different today the motion that my colleagues had moved trying to get the council to support Jeremy Corbyn’s housing policy was hypocrisy. Well the fact is that I do ask for different things today than I asked for 36 years ago because the housing situation and the way society works has massively changed in those 36 years. It would be ludicrous for me to be saying the same things now as I said then. It is just as ludicrous to have a land use policy which stared to be developed in 1992 and which was signed off in 2002.

Secondly, the Deputy Mayor, no less, went onto Radio Merseyside saying that this problem was all of the Government’s making because the Government had not given the council enough money for housing. Of course, we don’t get enough money and in practice today’s announcement from the Chancellor will make little difference because of the way it will be doled out. But what we are able  build on land today or in the short term has little to do with how we allocate land. Cllr O’Byrne was making her usual phony baloney excuses which are falling on increasingly deaf ears.

So, whether Liverpool is in the mess it is in because of stupidity or complicity is somewhat irrelevant. We need a Chief Planning Officer with vision and drive to produce a document which will save our green spaces; save industrial and commercial land for development and ensure that housing is put on the brownfield land which, in most cases was formerly housing.

Otherwise it will be Mrs May and her apparatchiks who will decide what will be built where and I cannot believe that any true Scouser wants that to happen.

This is the full message to the Head of the Paid Service in Liverpool

XXXXXXX  XXXXXXX,

Deputy Chief Executive & Head of the Paid Service,

Liverpool City Council

Dear XXXXXXXXX,

I am extremely saddened to hear that the Government are to intervene in Liverpool because of our abject failure to produce a Local Development Framework (LDF).

The LDF is a vital council document as it controls the land supply for Liverpool and ensures that there is a proper mix of land allocation for housing; commerce; industry and public-sector operations such as schools and hospitals.

This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2002. Much has changed since then.

The purpose of writing to you is simply to demand that you, as Head of the Paid Service and Deputy Chief Executive take immediate steps to begin the process of recruiting a City Planning Officer. Not only is our LDF delayed but there is clearly a lack of leadership in planning which detracts from so much valiant effort by most of our planning staff.

Unless we act the Conservative Government will decide what the planning polices for Liverpool are. That is not good enough. A city with all the developments that are going or at least talked about, needs a fully functioning planning department.

I would be grateful if you would let me know as a matter of urgency what You and the Council intend to do to recruit a high calibre Chief Planning Officer and get our planning strategy back on track.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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