A PACKED meeting at the Professional Development Centre in Formby heard from Mike McComb about his plans to sell the Powerhouse site in Formby to a developer.
Mike McComb answered a number of questions as did councillors and parish councillors.
Residents had many concerns about the proposal. Mr McComb explained that the site is an eyesore and a magnet for anti-social and criminal behaviour. Development of the site already has planning permission and it looks like a different planning application will see houses rather than flats.
Residents asked about affordable housing and it was clear that as things stand the development would have limited affordable housing in order for the proposed developer, Bellway Homes to be interested.
The point was made that development of a previous industrial site like the Powerhouse should not be used as a the thin end of the wedge in allowing development elsewhere in the Green Belt. I agree.
Developers want to build and make as much money as possible. As a result they are reluctant to build affordable homes either to rent or to buy, yet this is what is needed by many people.
We have many empty homes in Sefton. We also have former industrial sites. Residents made clear that these should be developed first and that empty homes should be renovated or replaced before even considering the Green Belt.
This will cost a lot of money and will take a big shift in government policy.
But there are other ways to proceed. The Bank of England has given the banks billions of pounds through a process called quantitative easing. This money is being used by the banks to recover from the losses they incurred in the financial crisis.
But very little of that money is finding its way into the real economy, even though the government promised this would happen.
Instead of giving the money to the banks for them to hold onto, it would be better to use the money to build affordable homes.
It would be better to build homes for pensioners wanting to down size, which would free up family sized homes. And it would be better to give thousands of unemployed construction and building workers jobs.
That money could also be used to decontaminate the former industrial land that developers say is too expensive for them to use. It could be used to renovate empty homes or demolish and rebuild them.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on how this would work but I do know we need affordable housing and I do know we should be protecting the green belt.