Abandon green belt plan now

Date published: 20 March 2017

OLDHAM Liberal Democrats will call on the council to abandon "madness" and protect green belt by pulling out of the controversial Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

Councillor Howard Sykes (pictured) will propose a motion at a council meeting on Wednesday to withdraw from the GMSF and instead develop a local plan for housing and commercial development in the borough.

It is a similar motion to those submitted by Liberal Democrat councillors in Bury and Stockport.

The GMSF plan requires 13,700 new homes to be built and 700,000 square metres of land to be made available for new factories and warehouses in Oldham. Nearly 3,000 of those new homes are to be located in Shaw and Crompton in addition to other vast tracts of land that are designated for industrial development.

Within the GMSF, it is proposed new properties will be built at Cowlishaw, in the Beal Valley, at Rushcroft, on the Whitfield Farm site across to Newhey and around Gravel Hole and Low Crompton.

Adjacent sites at Broadbent Moss, Oldham, Hanging Chadder, Oldham, and land East and West of the A627M if developed would also see removal of green belt land.

Councillor Sykes said: "We believe this is madness. To Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Shaw and Crompton, this plan represents a massive and inequitable land grab in our area with the loss of our much-loved green belt. Our constituents are up-in-arms about it, they have marched to save their green belt and they rightly expect their elected representatives to stand by them on this vital issue.

"We will not let them down; the Liberal Democratic Group intends to fight these proposals tooth and nail!"

"I know that Labour colleagues representing Royton and Chadderton are also upset at plans to devastate green belt in their areas so we hope that they will support this motion."

Councillor Sykes went on to say there was no justification for the construction of properties on green belt land before new homes are built on brownfield sites, sites where planning permission for development has already been granted and on derelict and unloved sites in the borough.

He said: "We also believe that every empty mill and factory should be converted and used for housing and that the large number of empty homes in our borough should be brought back to use."

"We are calling on Oldham Council to abandon their involvement with the GMSF and to instead meet our legal obligations by creating a fifteen year local plan, which apportions housing and commercial development across the borough rather than in a few areas, meets our local requirements rather than those of others and which emphasises development on brownfield sites first."

The Liberal Democrats have also objected to the GMSF as they believe Shaw and Crompton doesn't have the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the residents 3,000 new homes would bring.

Crompton Councillor Dave Murphy, who will second the motion, said: "We have primary schools that are already overcrowded and full, a secondary school that is falling apart, a dilapidated Health Centre that is near cardiac arrest, no swimming facilities or dry leisure provision, precious few youth facilities and no municipal tip.

"Under the proposals, 3,000 homes will be built in Shaw and Crompton for growing families. These new residents will need more primary and secondary school places, more GPs and dentists, leisure and shopping facilities and new highways and more buses and trams to get them there."

He said: "Oldham Council's decision to close and not replace the Crompton Pool and Gym now looks a little short-sighted given the number of new young residents that will need to learn to swim and the number of adults that will want to keep fit.

"A local plan would not overload any one part of the borough with excessive development. We can instead properly and fairly apportion new developments across the borough and make our own plans to ensure the infrastructure needs of new residents are met in an effective and timely manner."