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Key Issues and Influences



Knowsley comprises a belt of small towns, suburbs and countryside, lying to the east of Liverpool. The total population of the Borough is approximately 150,000 and the largest urban areas are Kirkby, Huyton, Prescot, Whiston and Halewood. Approximately 55% of the Borough is countryside. Each of Knowsley’s communities has its own quite different historical background and particular characteristics.


The communities within Knowsley are, probably more so than almost any other metropolitan area, a creation of the 20th century. With the exception of Prescot and a few other smaller older settlements, the majority of the existing development in the area now known as Knowsley took place between the 1920s and the mid 1970s. Much of this expansion was as a result of Liverpool over-spill development. The expansion of the Borough’s population, however, ceased in the early 1970s.


Population, the economy and housing market


The recession of the 1970s and early 1980s hit Knowsley very hard. Over 20,000 jobs were lost from within Knowsley Industrial Park alone and thousands of local people faced unemployment. At the same time, Knowsley’s relatively poor choice of housing to buy, at a time of unprecedented growth in the demand for owner-occupation, combined with the economic crisis to create one of the country’s highest rates of population out-movement. Between 1971 and 1991, Knowsley’s population declined to 156,850 - a decrease of nearly 40,000.

Table 2.1: Population Figures for the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley





Knowsley Population: (Number)




Source: National Census statistics


Population loss can severely hamper the regeneration of local communities, by making services (such as schools, health services etc.) less viable and making it more difficult to attract new shops and leisure facilities to the Borough. To address the reasons for population decline the Council embarked upon an ambitious “stabilisation strategy” in 1991. Over 6,000 dwellings were constructed in the ten years leading up to 2002. Population loss has been slowed but not halted. Since 1995 a number of major inward investments have been made and over 4,500 jobs created.


The population of the Borough is still falling, albeit at a slower rate than in the 1970s and 1980s. Due to demographic trends and increased rates of house demolition there is a risk that decline could accelerate again. Loss of population causes local schools and other services to become less viable and the use of existing infrastructure to become less efficient.


Despite recent progress, unemployment is still higher than the regional and Merseyside averages. The Borough is under represented in target growth sectors such as knowledge-based industries. According to the Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation for the year 2000, 18 of the Borough’s 22 wards were within the most deprived 10% nationally.


The Plan cannot directly control population change. However, it can address some of its underlying causes by:

•  Allowing for the remodelling of the housing market. This will mean dealing with areas of low demand through housing clearance and renewal, and introducing a range of high quality housing sites to meet current needs; and

•  Providing land to improve local job opportunities, shopping, recreational and service provision.

The Environment


The Borough of Knowsley contains many important environmental assets, including: an extensive network of green spaces within the urban area; large areas of countryside (designated as Green Belt in the UDP); and areas of attractive landscape such as Knowsley Safari Park. The built and natural heritage of the Borough includes a number of Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings and Sites of Biological Interest. These assets are valued by local communities, and play an important role in making the Borough a more attractive place to live.



The Council consulted the public on the key issues to be addressed in this Plan in the summer of 2002. A variety of consultation methods were used including the Knowsley Voice Citizens Panel, which includes over 2,000 local people. The consultation exercise has had a significant influence on the Plan. The findings are explained in a separate document entitled “Knowsley MBC: Replacement Unitary Development Plan: Key Issues - Report of Consultation”.

The effect of the increases in the cost of housing has been that some lower income households were unable to purchase properties on the open market, implying a further need for provision of affordable housing.


The UK Strategy for Sustainable Development


In May 1999, the Government published the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development (“A Better Quality of Life”). Achieving “sustainable development” will mean ensuring a better quality of life for everyone now, and for generations to come. The strategy requires society to meet four objectives in the UK and in the world as a whole. These are:

•  Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone;

•  Effective protection of the environment;

•  Prudent use of natural resources; and

•  Maintenance of high levels of economic growth and employment.


The North West Regional Assembly has produced a framework called “Action for Sustainability”, which shows how sustainability objectives can be achieved in the North West.

Local Agenda 21 Strategy for Knowsley “Knowsley’s Tomorrow”


The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992, produced an international action plan Agenda 21 (Agenda for the 21st Century). This is implemented at the local level through Local Agenda 21 strategies. In Knowsley this strategy is called “Knowsley’s Tomorrow” and shows how the Council and its community partners will implement “sustainable development” principles at the local level.

Sustainability Appraisal


In order to ensure that the new UDP is truly sustainable, the Council has carried out “sustainability appraisal” as an integral part of the process in drafting this Plan. This has been carried out by a working party of officers from the Council, the Environmental Advisory Service and Liverpool University. The appraisal has used a methodology based on the “Action for Sustainability” toolkit and has heavily influenced the Plan. The appraisal is also being published as a separate document.



The Government has issued a series of Planning Policy Guidance Notes, Planning Policy Statements and Minerals Planning Guidance Notes (PPGs, PPSs and MPGs). These cover a comprehensive range of planning policy areas. The Council has had regard to these in formulating the Plan and, where relevant, they are referred to in chapters 5-14 covering the individual topics.


National planning legislation requires the Plan to have regard to the resources that are likely to be available to implement the Plan and to economic, environmental and social considerations. The resources that are likely to be available (such as those contained in the regeneration programmes outlined below) have been fundamental to influencing the Plan’s proposals. Economic, environmental and social considerations are central to the vision and objectivesof the Plan - see chapter 3.


In accordance with new government guidance (which accompanied the reforms to the planning system implemented through the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) the Plan is slimmer than the previous UDP. The policies in the new Plan are both fewer in number and of a more general nature than in the previous adopted UDP for Knowsley.


Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS)


Regional Planning Guidance for the North West (RPG) was published by the Secretary of State in March 2003. By virtue of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, 2004 Regional Planning Guidance now has statutory status as the Regional Spatial Strategy. A fundamental aim of RSS is to promote an urban renaissance, to be focused within the North West Metropolitan Area (of which Knowsley is part). RSSplaces particular importance on regenerating the city centres of Liverpool and Manchester/Salford, together with their surrounding urban areas.


RSS has a number of significant implications for Knowsley. For example, it determines the amount of house building that should take place in the Borough. Under the requirements of RSS a strategic study of Green Belt across Merseyside and Halton has been carried out to determine whether there will be a need to change its boundaries to accommodate long-term development needs to 2021 and beyond.  Relevant issues arising from RSS are described in the individual chapters of the Plan.


The Regional Spatial Strategy forms a part of the statutory “Development Plan” for all the North West (including Knowsley). The North West Regional Assembly (NWRA) has recently started to prepare a new Regional Spatial Strategy, which will replace the current RPG/RSS. It is expected that the NWRA will submit a draft of this document for approval to the Secretary of State in 2006.


To avoid confusion, all references in subsequent chapters of this Plan to the 2003 version of RPG refer to the document by its new title of Regional Spatial Strategy (or RSS).   

North West Regional Economic Strategy


The new Regional Economic Strategy was launched by the North West Development Agency in March 2003. The strategy aims to improve the region’s performance in terms of: business development; regeneration; skills and employment; infrastructure; and image. It also encourages the growth of “business clusters” in targeted growth sectors.


The Regional Economic Strategy identifies Kings Business Park in Huyton as one of 25 strategic regional sites for economic development.  These sites are at various locations across the North West and are considered to be critical to the effective implementation of the Strategy. They should act as flagship development sites, accommodating the needs of the region for inward investment and indigenous business. Because Kings Business Park also meets the criteria set down in the Regional Spatial Strategy, it is identified as a “Regional Investment Site” in this Plan – see chapter 6 “Economic Development”.

North West Regional Housing Statement


The North West Regional Housing Statement 2001 was developed by the Government acting in partnership with others. It aims to ensure that every part of the North West offers everyone a choice of good quality housing in successful, secure and sustainable neighbourhoods. For Merseyside, the statement identifies a need for a strategic approach to counter longstanding problems of unfitness and obsolescence in the housing stock, and declining population.


The Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan, issued in February 2003, makes provisions for the establishment of a Regional Housing Board in each region (including the North West), which will be responsible for overseeing the development of a Regional Housing Strategy.  The first housing strategy for the North West (prepared in 2003) was, due to the short timescale, of a fairly interim nature with that being developed in 2004 being more substantial and comprehensive.


The Merseyside Objective 1 programme 2000-2006


The European Union has designated Merseyside as an Objective 1 area for a period running from 2000 until 2006. This is likely to result in up to 3 billion Euros being available (including EU sources, UK and private sector matched funding) to support regeneration activities. The programme aims to develop business, people, locations and communities.


The Objective 1 programme identifies eight areas (known as Strategic Investment Areas), which have the greatest potential to generate further employment and economic growth. Knowsley contains all or part of three of these, located at:

•  Huyton/Prescot;

•  Kirkby/Gilmoss (known as “Approach 580”); and

•  Halewood/Speke.


The Huyton/Prescot and Approach 580 Strategic Investment Areas lie partly within the Green Belt in Knowsley. The specific sites affected include Cronton Colliery, the Walton Farm/Axis Site (Adjacent to the A580 and M57); and sites to the east of Knowsley Industrial Park (both north and south of the A580). These areas have considerable economic potential, but their Green Belt designation (see chapter 9 “Green Belt and the Rural Economy”) means that proposals for new industrial, office or warehouse development on these sites could only be permitted if exceptional circumstances are demonstrated in the planning application.


Areas of greatest economic need are identified as Pathways Partnership Areas. Within these areas, funding will be used to encourage capacity building and training, to enable the local workforce to take advantage of the opportunities, which are provided. Within Knowsley, the Pathways Partnership Areas are at Halewood, Huyton, Kirkby and Lickers Lane (Whiston).


Each Strategic Investment Area and Pathways Partnership Area has its own delivery programme, which sets priorities for how Objective 1 moneys will be spent in that area.

Action Plan for the City Region 2002-2005


The Mersey Partnership (TMP), which represents over 350 businesses, six local authorities, Government agencies, and universities on Merseyside, published the “Action Plan for the City Region” in October 2001.  This establishes the priorities for regeneration across Merseyside and includes 2 “flagship” projects:

•  A Mersey Waterfront Regional Park - This will seek to tap the historic, tourism, industrial and environmental potential of both sides of the Mersey estuary; and

•  A National Centre for Biotechnology at Speke.

Although these two projects fall outside the boundaries of Knowsley, the Council is supportive of their implementation, which will benefit Merseyside as a whole.

Merseyside Local Transport Plan (LTP)


The Merseyside Local Transport Plan (LTP) is a statutory plan prepared by the five Metropolitan Councils on Merseyside and Merseytravel. Close liaison is maintained with transport companies and other stakeholders. The LTP influences how Government funding is allocated and it aims:

•  To ensure that transport supports sustainable economic development and regeneration;

•  To moderate the upward trend in car use and secure a shift to more sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport;

•  To secure the most efficient and effective use of the public transport network; and

•  To enhance the quality of life of those who live, work in and visit Merseyside.


The LTP includes a detailed investment programme for new transport infrastructure provision up to 2006, and a 10-year Transport Strategy for the period up to 2011, key elements of which are described in chapter 8 “Transport”. It is proposed to publish a new Local Transport Plan in 2005, which will carry the investment programme and strategy further forward into the future. The UDP will need to be closely integrated with the LTP, to ensure that planning decisions will facilitate the transport schemes proposed in the LTP, and that the transport needs of new development are properly taken into account.

Merseyside Housing Market Renewal Initiative


Within Merseyside as a whole there has been significant depopulation and out- migration over the last 3 decades. Under the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan, a Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI) has commenced within Merseyside, which will bring a renewed emphasis on housing clearance and regeneration, using millions of pounds of Government money.   The “pathfinder” area for the Merseyside HMRI is within the inner conurbation areas of Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral. Given the ten-year timescale of the initiative and the extent of clearance and regeneration proposed, the initiative will also impact on neighbouring authorities including Knowsley.


The Knowsley Community Plan 2002-2012


The Knowsley Community Plan, 2002-2012, has been developed by Knowsley’s Local Strategic Partnership (known as “The Knowsley Partnership”), and six Local Community Area Forums.  The Knowsley Partnership includes representatives from the police, health and education providers, the Schools Council, community groups, business, and the voluntary sector, as well as Council Members and officers. The Community Plan sets out a vision, together with specific actions and targets, arranged within the key themes of: Community Safety; Economy and Employment; Education and Training; Housing and Environment; and Health and Healthy Living.

Important note: The Unitary Development Plan must be closely aligned to the Community Plan. Chapter 3 of the UDP “Vision and Objectives” explains the overall vision of the Community Plan and identifies a range of objectives for the UDP which will guide how decisions about land use and development will contribute towards meeting the Community Plan vision.  

Knowsley MBC Corporate Plan


The Council has prepared a Corporate Plan which explains how the delivery of Council services will be prioritised to help deliver the Community Plan vision and which provides a framework for individual services provided by the Council.

Knowsley MBC Housing Strategy


The Council produces a Housing Strategy each year. This document regularly reviews housing needs and priorities and will influence planning decisions relating to housing development over the Plan period.

Knowsley MBC Economic Development Plan


Proposals for promoting the economic development of the Borough are set down in the Council’s Economic Development Plan. This is produced annually and contains proposals, which aim to: promote opportunity and social prosperity; foster enterprise, sustainable economic and environmental development; and encourage life-long learning.

Knowsley MBC Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy


The Knowsley MBC Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy identifies a range of actions to be taken by the Council and its partners to encourage citizenship and reduce incidences of crime and disorder in the community. The Unitary Development Plan has an important contribution to make to this, for example by requiring developers to take on board “Designing Out Crime” principles in new developments.

The Knowsley Schools Review


In January 2002, an independent Schools Commission was set up, at the request of the Council, to fundamentally review the provision of schools in the Borough against likely future demand for places. The report of the Commission (dated March 2003) recommended that there should be a fundamental restructuring of school provision in Knowsley, involving amalgamation of many of the existing primary and secondary schools in the Borough.


The Council has yet to determine which of the recommendations will be taken forward, and any changes will be dependent on further consultation with the community. As a first stage, the Council is seeking government approval (under the Building Schools for the Future Programme) to replace the 11 secondary schools with 8 new learning centres. Changes to schools provision in the Borough could heavily influence future land use and development in Knowsley.

The Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy for Knowsley


18 of the 22 wards in Knowsley (covering the great majority of the built up area within the Borough) qualify for assistance under the Government’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF). The aim is to improve economic performance and employment provision, crime rates, educational attainment, health and housing. The Council, working in partnership with others through 6 Local Community Area Forums, has prepared a Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy. This covers the whole Borough and identifies issues and actions to be addressed within each Community Forum area.

North Huyton New Deal for Communities


The North Huyton area (including the estates of Hillside, Woolfall Heath, Finch House and Fincham) is one of the more deprived areas of Knowsley, and is being regenerated under the Government’s New Deal for Communities (NDC) programme. This programme will run until 2010 and will invest £55.8m of Government funds, with the aim of tackling unemployment, poor examination results, ill health, poor housing and crime and disorder. The area is designated in this Plan as an Action Areawithin which major clearance will take place, and up to 1,450 new dwellings will be provided, together with associated new employment, community and open space uses to meet local needs.

Single Regeneration Budget Programme Areas


The Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) initiative provides financial support for local projects, which will promote job creation, economic development, education, training, housing, environment, community safety, leisure and community development. There is one remaining SRB programme within Knowsley (for Kirkby – previous programmes for Huyton and Halewood having recently been completed). The programme for Kirkby should generate up to £35 million of investment but will end in 2006.

Ealing Council Unitary Development Plan