Wirral Council will target brownfield sites to build more than 800 homes per year according to the authority’s deputy leader.
Councillor George Davies has made the ‘brownfield first’ pledge as the council looks to progress its Local Plan, with the government requiring at least 803 new properties annually for the next decade and a half – over and above any existing empty homes.
Focusing on brownfield sites, which have already had development on them, the approach will aim to provide as many homes as possible whilst protecting the borough’s green belt from ‘unwanted and unneeded’ building.
Cllr Davies says: “It’s also important to highlight that although we will look to maximise development opportunities in brownfield sites we will not compromise on quality and we will ensure that the approach of creating sustainable and vibrant communities for all is at the heart of everything we do.”
All local authorities must produce a Local Plan to determine what sites should be made available for development and what type of development should go ahead, including housing, new employment space and mixed-use projects.
The government has set Wirral a target of allowing for 12,000 homes to be built by 2035 – or just over 800 a year – with the figure determined by the government’s formula of using the available economic and demographic data.
According to Wirral Council revised figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last year indicated the yearly target could be lower – closer to 500 homes – which the council suggests would have significantly reduced pressure on the borough’s green belt.
However, after being asked whether the lower figure could be used, the government has called for Wirral Council to adhere to the original estimates.
Cllr Davies adds: “It’s disappointing the Government want us to use the higher figure but despite this I am determined that we will do everything in our power to protect Wirral’s most beautiful natural locations.
“As we go through the process of developing the Local Plan we are becoming more convinced it is possible to develop even more brownfield sites.”