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Homes plan sparks fear

Reporter: Rosalyn Roden
Date published: 10 July 2017


PLANS have been unveiled for a huge housing development which would transform Saddleworth's landscape.

Manchester-based Russell Homes has outlined plans to construct 265 family homes bordering Knowls Lane and Thornley Lane in Lees. The proposals allow for an as yet unknown number of affordable homes as well as a "significant portion" of public open space.

Since the announcement of the public meeting, a Facebook event called "Save Our Valley" has been created.

A public message on the associated page states: "Ensure you come along to save our valley before they destroy the lovely countryside and habitats of Company Fields that could bring some 300 houses and 600 cars, putting more pressure on Oldham Road, schools, doctors and more."

Councillor Adrian Alexander, who represents Saddleworth West & Lees, said of the proposals: "I am personally very wary of any builders coming in unless they are investigated by the council. We need new houses but not at the expense of residents who have been there for years.

"Without the consent of the residents and council, as far as flooding, planning and infrastructure goes, we do not want to destroy the land.

"The petitions will be starting as we speak."

A new link road would also be created through the site, connecting Lees Road at the junction with Knowls Lane and Ashbrook Road at the junction with Oldham Road.

Russell Homes described the proposals as their "masterplan site" but stressed that not all of the land marked out would be developed for housing.

A public drop-in meeting will take place on Thursday, July 20, to give residents the opportunity to see the initial drawings first-hand and share their views.

Barton Willmore ­- providing planning advice on the scheme ­- will lead the drop-in exhibition and discussion with a presentation about the transformation of Thornley Brook and Ashbrook.

Russell Homes managing director Andrew Russell said: "Russell Homes is in the process of preparing a planning application for a much-needed new link road, new family homes, and enhanced public open space at a site off Knowls Lane in Lees.

"The proposal would allow for the delivery of the Lees Link Road and the development of up to 265 high-quality family homes, including affordable housing, to help meet growing local demand. The application would also involve the retention and enhancement of existing public open space, including walkways and wildlife corridors and a play area.

"The Lees Link Road has been a long-standing aspiration of the local authority and would address existing congestion in the local area created by the bottleneck at High Street and Hartshead Lane."

Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester John Battye, a former mayor of Oldham, said: "Most of this area was designated as Phase 2 housing land ­- sites outside urban areas with potential for housing development ­- from the late 1980s.

"Ashbrook Road was built to link with Lees New Road to alleviate traffic on High Street and the busy junction at the Red Lion."

Part of the site is allocated as "safeguarded land for housing" within Oldham Council's adopted plan.

Representatives from Russell Homes' technical team will attend the public exhibition to respond to questions from members of the public.

Mr Russell said: "We would welcome a good turnout for the event and see this as a great opportunity to work alongside local residents and Oldham Council."

Since the announcement of the public meeting, a Facebook event called "Save Our Valley" has been created.

A public message on the associated page states: "Ensure you come along to save our valley before they destroy the lovely countryside and habitats of Company Fields that could bring some 300 houses and 600 cars, putting more pressure on Oldham Road, schools, doctors and more."

Councillor Adrian Alexander, who represents Saddleworth West & Lees, said of the proposals: "I am personally very wary of any builders coming in unless they are investigated by the council. We need new houses but not at the expense of residents who have been there for years.

"Without the consent of the residents and council, as far as flooding, planning and infrastructure goes, we do not want to destroy the land.

"The petitions will be starting as we speak."

The drop-in event will take place at Springhead Community Centre, Ashes Lane, between 3 and 7pm.

Anyone unable to attend should email craig.barnes@bartonwillmore.co.uk or call 0161 868 4310 for copies of the plans.


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