Will the Formby Neighbourhood Plan Pass its Final Inspection?

Finally, after six years in preparation, Formby and Little Altcar Parish Councils have submitted the Formby Neighbourhood Plan to Sefton Council.

Neighbourhood Plan Title Page

Six years is a very long time but presumably, the plan is the very best the two Parish Councils can produce?

So it's disappointing to note that the Sefton Council reception seems to raise some doubts. I've highlighted them in bold.

The Sefton document starts by setting out the Parish Councils'  purposes. Almost immediately they add some notes of concern. You can read them in the following extract. 

3.1 The Formby Neighbourhood Plan sets out a shared vision for Formby and Little Altcar Parishes. The whole of both Parishes were designated as a neighbourhood area’ for the purposes of preparing a neighbourhood plan and approved by Cabinet Member on 12th September 2013. The plan contains policies on the following areas

 General Policies
 Housing
 Working and shopping
 Getting around
 Community, leisure and wellbeing
 Environment, sustainability and design
 Flooding

3.2 Consultation on the draft plan (known as Regulation 14 Consultation) was undertaken by the Parish Council between 31st October 2016 and 12th December 2016. The Parish Council took account of comments received during this period in the submitted plan.

3.3 There are some concerns about some of the submitted documents and whether they fulfil some of the basic conditions. 

In particular:

 The Neighbourhood Plan needs have regard to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan and the Basic Conditions Statement repeatedly refer to the 2012 NPPF that has since been superseded.

The Neighbourhood Plan includes some policies that are contrary to strategic policies in the Local Plan, this includes a radical change to the affordable housing policy.

 The consultation framework is required to show people’s comments from the reg.14 consultation, what they said and how they have been considered. Whilst all comments are either summarised or included verbatim, it has not been shown how resident’s comments or the comments of other bodies have been considered, the statement simply says what they said.

3.4 The Neighbourhood Plan steering group did not accept the offer of advice from Sefton Council before submitting the plan.

3.5 It is up to the Examiner to decide whether the policies and content of the plan meet the basic conditions. The Council will make comments at the reg.16 stage.

(Source: Sefton Council: Report from Chief Officer Planning to Cabinet Officer Building and Planning Control for decision)

In my view, the most significant comment is item 3.4. It raises a number of questions.

  • Did both Parish Councils agree to 'disagree' with the Sefton Council advice?
  • Why did the Parish Councils reject the advice from the highly experienced Council officers?
  • Is there a conflict of views on some or all of the issues involved between Sefton Council and the two Parishes?
    • What are those?
    • Is this difference of views related to legal interpretations over the relative powers of Parish Councils and District Councils?
    • Has it to do with the Green Belt redesignation and the new housing developments, which have received official inspectors approval, thus confirming the status of the Local Plan?

Then there's the matter of the 2012 NPPF policy (National Planning Policy Framework)? Why have the Parish Councils not acted, after all, there's a seven-year gap between that change and now?

It is a remarkable passage of time, why have the Parish Councils not make the necessary adaptations?

Finally, on the question of the representation and response to the public views generated during the consultations is likely to compromise the whole plan. It is supposed to be a shared, collective and agreed public policy - not simply the Parish Councils policy.

Sefton Council closes in 3.5, with two observations:

  • A comment about the function of the Official Inspector, It's difficult not to draw the conclusion that the plan could be failed at this stage.
  • Sefton Council has also highlighted they will make comments at the 'Reg 16' stage of the process, could there more potential issues for the viability of the Plan? 

If you want to read more about the Neighbourhood Plan process I advise you to visit the Formby Parish Council website. There's a dedicated section with access to the various reports but following the plan through the Formby Parish Council minutes of meetings is more difficult. At one stage I noticed a reference to the near completion of the plan sometime in 2017, apparently, it just required some relatively small updates.

It seems to have taken over two years to make those additions and of course, the late submission date means that the current membership of both Councils is due for re-election, retirement or replacement, in the May elections. 

It begs the questions, why so long, what of the notion of electoral accountability, what has it all cost, what happens it the whole plan fails, who will be to blame?

To read the full report on the Sefton Council website follow the link: http://modgov.sefton.gov.uk/moderngov/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=56436&Opt=0



Formby Parish Council & Little Altcar Neighbourhood Plan

Formby Parish Council and Little Altcar Councils finally publish the Local Neighbourhood Plan.

Neighbourhood Plan Title Page
Formby Parish Council members will consider the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan at their meeting on Tuesday 5 February. The second paragraph of the 91-page document states:

The Formby and Little Altcar Neighbourhood Development Plan, [NDP] has been produced jointly by the Parish Councils of Formby and Little Altcar, starting back in September 2013. The Parish Councils wanted the people of Formby and Little Altcar to have a say in all aspects of the future of the town; addressing the issues surrounding housing, infrastructure, health and wellbeing, the environment, and include natural/heritage assets. However, most importantly, it wanted local people to decide what they wanted in their community.

Observers may very well ask why it's apparently taken 6 years to prepare and at what cost in financial terms and human time. Both Parish Councils are to be renewed in an all-out election this year and there only 2 more meetings before the elections.

Notice of Meeting

All members of the Council are hereby summoned to attend the next Ordinary Meeting of the Parish Council, which will be held at Formby Library, Duke Street, Formby, on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 7pm

Claire Jenkins
Clerk to Formby Parish Council


  • 1.0 To receive Apologies
  • 2.0 To Receive Declarations of Interest
  • 3.0 Public Forum (the meeting will be adjourned for this item)
  • 4.0 Previous Minute
    • 4.1 To consider and approve the Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting held on 8 January 2019.
  • 5.0 Matters of Report from Previous Meeting – for information only
  • 6.0 Planning Applications – (Sefton’s weekly list email, also available on Sefton Council’s website).
  • 6.1 To note current position on Formby Development Sites in Sefton’s Local Plan.
  • 7.0 To discuss and resolve the following:
    • 7.1 To receive the Neighbourhood Plan, Consultation Statement and Basic Conditions Statement and to approve the submission to Sefton Council for the second stage (Regulation 16) consultation.
  • 8.0 To authorise Payments (enclosed)
  • 9.0 Chairman’s Report
  • 10.0 To receive the following reports – enclosed for information only
    • Clerk’s report
    • Environment Group
    • Finance and General Purposes Group minutes
  • 11.0 Date of Next Ordinary Meeting– Tuesday 5 March 2019 to be held in the Meeting Room, Formby Library at 7pm

Members of the press and public are welcome to attend

The final version of the document (dated 30-1-19) is available here: http://www.formbyparishcouncil.org.uk/images/Formby_Plan_-_Final_31.01.19.pdf



National Trust Seeks Feedback on Proposals for Future Care of The Formby Coast

The National Trust at Formby is asking the community to help further develop ideas for the care of the Formby coast, now and in the future.

Local people are warmly invited to come along to a series of drop-in events to be held throughout September. They will be able to review the feedback received during previous consultation events and contribute to the resulting proposals that are being developed.

Source: NT Formby

Consultation events in 2017 focused on collecting views and suggestions for how the Trust can best care for this unique and rapidly changing stretch of coast, for the benefit of the people who love it and the wildlife that makes its home here.

Topics discussed included

  • How to balance the need for parking with conservation of the sensitive landscape at Formby,
  • How to manage traffic on busy days
  • And the big decisions posed by the encroachment of sand onto the Victoria Road car park.
  • Discussions also focused on how to create and link habitats for the benefit of rare wildlife including Natterjack Toads and Red Squirrels
  • And how to improve visitor facilities, which can sometimes struggle to meet demand.

Andrew Brockbank, Countryside Manager for the National Trust at Formby, commented:

“We want to work with our local community to find the best ways to adapt to changing demands on this stretch of coast. The sand dune shoreline is constantly shifting here at Formby and the popularity of the coast brings pressures to both the fragile habitats and facilities.

We want to make better provision for our visitors to have a wonderful time here while showing sensitivity to local needs and demonstrating good conservation.  We received a fantastic response to our consultation events held throughout 2017 with many ideas being shared about how to care for this special coastline.

We now need to work more closely together to balance these multiple demands on the coast.”

Fiona Matthews, the Trust’s Community Involvement Officer at Formby, added:

“These September drop-in events are aimed at ‘sense-checking’ the feedback we have received so far and sharing our emerging ideas. The next step after these events will be to develop these basic principles and ideas into detailed proposals, working alongside the community.”

Local people can drop into any of the events to talk to staff, pick up a copy of our proposal booklet and contribute their views.

Formby Library   

Saturday 1st September 10-00-14.00
  Saturday 8th September 10.00-14.00
Formby Pool Café 

Tuesday 11th September 9.00-13.00
  Saturday 15th September 9.00-13.00
Formby Market, Chapel Street  

Friday 7th September 9.00-16.00


Additional events will also be added over the coming weeks and will be publicised locally and through the National Trust social media feeds. More information about the consultation events to date and the emerging ideas for Formby Point can be found at:


Comments can also be shared by contacting the National Trust at Formby by email talkingformby@nationaltrust.org.uk


The Atkinson and Your Family

How important are the Arts in local public life?

The AtkinsonBetween 1980 and 1987 I spent some of my most enjoyable moments in public life serving as an elected Councillor member of Sefton Councils Arts and Library committee. Although the Arts weren't considered a front-line public service at the time, and probably, even now, It was the least politically contested function.

The Atkinson was restored by Southport Borough Council in the lead-up to the formation if Sefton in 1974,


In 1875, William Atkinson offered Southport Corporation £6,000 to build an art gallery and library for the town.

William Atkinson was a cotton manufacturer from Knaresborough who frequently visited Southport with his sick wife looking for the refreshing sea air. He eventually moved to Southport and generously donated approximately £40,000 to the town during his lifetime and played an active part in its development.

The architects Waddington & Son of Burnley designed the Atkinson Art Gallery and Library, which opened in 1878.

The Southport Arts Centre as it became known was closed again in 2010 for further refurbishment. Reopening its doors in May 2013.

The Atkinson is Southport’s beautiful new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history, right in the middle of Lord Street in Southport and just 3 minutes’ walk from Southport train station. Significant investment has been made in refurbishing the stunning 19th-century buildings, to create a really welcoming multi art-form venue with a sturdy contemporary feel.

It offers an exciting and varied destination for families, cultural tourists and art enthusiasts alike, with a full day and night time offer. During the day an opportunity to visit the new shop, that sells gifts and contemporary crafts from regional makers and then relax in the Bakery, choosing from a selection of artisan bread sandwiches, cakes and sharing platters.

Here's the latest short video from The Atkinson inviting families throughout our local area to make use if its facilities


Time to Solve the Holiday Traffic Crisis? Part Two.

The chaos continues, the moment the sun comes out or it's a weekend/bank holiday Formby descends into traffic chaos. The social media are full of reports today about the traffic congestion BUT in-action still rules it seems.

Traffic Jam at Fresfield StationDid you know you can write directly to your local Councillors or any of your other elected representatives? You can find the contact details on their websites.

Here's my letter to my local Sefton Councillors written and published on 31 May 2016. I've repeated these comments over and over again face to face to local Councillors and the National Trust and I'm still waiting for signs of action.

Local Councillors driving around 'tweeting' isn't enough now. Time for residents to call them to account - that's what the ballot box is for, use your vote.

In the meantime, if you feel like I do, I suggest you write your own letter?

Good luck.

As residents of Formby we are all aware of the chaotic traffic problems caused by the weight of visitor traffic during high seasons and holidays.

Most if not all observers will be horrified by some of the dangerous, potentially life threatening results. Jammed roads making it impossible for emergency vehicles to pass, vehicles stranded in the middle of the level crossing at Freshfield station, trapping residents on their properties because of inconsiderate and illegal parking.

Despite the growth in this issue I can find little or no evidence that Sefton Council, Formby Parish Council together with The National Trust finding effective solutions yet. (Emphasis added 2018)

I know that parking restrictions have been put in place, but so far the solutions seems to be reactive rather than proactive.

It's clear that most if not all visitors come by car and with very little or no notice find themselves caught in the jams, they queue waiting in vain not knowing how long that wait may take or how far they have to travel. We all know that there is insufficient parking spaces on the really busy days and this in turn leads to cars parking close to the access points. It's fortunate that the dramatic scenes of last weekend are limited to a relatively small number of days in the year. Small comfort for the residents most badly affected.

As a resident I'd like to see the evidence of concern over this issue. Links on the Council web sites to documents, meetings and actions taken are required - occasional 'tweets' are not sufficient.

Can I suggest all of the Bodies involved need to address how best to be proactive. Visitors need more advice sooner. (Emphais added 2018)

  • Solar powered Mobile Variable Systems, Highway Agency approved are worth worth trying out. They can be hired for trials
  • Secondly it might be worth considering a plan based on Zoning. An outer zone with signs on the by-pass with the latest up-to-date advice. The next zone within Formby using similar signs. Finally as a last resort but a necessary remedial response, some means of directing vehicles to places on roads to park and helping visitors to access the beach from different points. There are a range of different paths that need signposting with advice on the time it would take or access advice (Wheelchairs, pushchairs etc).
  • The solution also needs to incorporate the use of Social Media - these days most visitors will have access to mobile phones. It would help to use commonly agreed #hashtags such as #formbyparking.
  • Another aspect of an overall plan would be to accept that visitors arrive at different times of the day. Early arrivals do not cause the problem but on 'high days and holidays' from 11.30am or at times of high tides visitors need active relevant and live updates. There has to be an organisational infrastructure in place, both physical and human.
  • A solution will cost money, we all have to accept it, but perhaps on a longer term, means can be found to generate an income from visitors to offset some of these casts.

I hope you will seriously consider these suggestions and help reassure the besieged residents of Formby something is being done to resolve an ever-worsening problem.

Many thanks,

Sean Brady

For the full post visit: http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/2016/05/time-to-solve-the-holiday-traffic-crisis.html