ST HELENS Council's cabinet member for growth has insisted the authority is not ignoring brownfield sites for potential housing developments - dismissing such claims as "misinformed".

At Wednesday's cabinet meeting, councillors approved the St Helens Brownfield Land Register 2017, a statutory requirement from central government.

The requirement for a register is part of a national drive "to bring brownfield land back into use".

The sites included in the Brownfield Land Register have a total number of 5,808 units.

The first draft of the St Helens Local Plan for up to to 2033 sparked controversy for including plans to release swathes of green belt land for development, reducing it from 65 per cent of the borough to 56 per cent.

Anti-green belt development protest groups have been set up across the borough which have emphasised that brownfield sites should be prioritised.

Under the St Helens Local Plan Preferred Options there is an annual average net additional housing requirement of 570 dwellings, equating to 10,830 dwellings over the period from April 2014 to March 2033.

A council document says sites identified in the brownfield register "will make a significant contribution to the provision of housing land in the borough".

In cabinet, member for growth Cllr John Fulham said: "St Helens Council is cognizant of the locations of brownfield sites in this borough.

"The council has a proud record of regenerating brownfield for commercial, residential or even leisure purposes like Bold Forest Park.

"Any suggestion that the council is oblivious of sites across the borough is misinformed.

"The brownfield will make a significant contribution. There will still be a need to identify suitable sites in the short, medium and long-term."

He added: "The Local Plan is very ambitious and lots of people have focused on proposals to release a proportion of green belt. Most of the Plan concerns itself with the release of brownfield."

Cabinet member Cllr Derek Long added: "We all agree that brownfield first is the way forward.

"I think we've got to be very clear that we are providing houses that are both affordable and market-level houses."

He added: "Until we have a government committed to funding remediation (of brownfield) we are going to be struggling."

The largest brownfield sites identified in the register include:

Moss Nook Urban Village, Watery Lane; land north of Elton Head Road, Thatto Heath; land at Cowley Street and Albert Street, Moss Bank; Alexandra Park, former Pilkington headquarters on Prescot Road; Penlake Industrial Estate, Bold; Ibstocks, Chester Lane, Sutton Manor; land at Lea Green Colliery and Lowfield Land Industrial Estate, Thatto Heath; Pilkington’s (Eccleston Works), Millfields and Deacon Trading Estate, Earlestown.