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St Helens Council green belt building plan approved despite opposition

St Helens town hall Image copyright St Helens Council
Image caption All Labour councillors supported the plan, with all other councillors opposing it

A council's draft plan to build homes on green belt land has been approved despite objections from all the authority's opposition councillors.

Labour, which leads St Helens Council, said all its councillors had supported the Local Plan: 2020-2035 under a mantra of "brownfield first".

Green belt currently accounts for 65% of the authority's land, which will be cut to 59% under the plan.

Tory leader Allan Jones said the plan could "destroy" local jobs.

The plan, which is in line with the government's National Planning Policy Framework, proposes 486 new homes are built every year.

'Try even harder'

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said Mr Jones, who represents Rainford, opposed the inclusion of agricultural land near Higher Lane in the village.

He told the council meeting on Wednesday that the farmer who uses the land would need to look for an alternative site if development went ahead.

"This could make the whole operation uneconomical and they would have to close, with a loss of 98 jobs," he said.

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Eccleston's Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Haw said no green belt land should be developed until every brownfield site is identified and built upon.

Deputy council leader Andy Bowden said accepting the plan "does not mean we will stop proactively looking to deliver on more sites".

He added that it meant the council would "try even harder [as] that's what we want to do, we want to regenerate those sites".

An eight-week publication period to allow people to submit comments to the government will now begin on 14 January, before the plan is submitted to an independent planning inspector in the summer.

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