Protests achieved a rethink on a massive plan for building 12,000 homes on Green Belt across the south of Stockport. Revised proposals will not appear until next year both for Stockport and the rest of the area covered by the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
Taken together, the Bypass and the housing plans would have urbanised much of the green and pleasant space remaining in our borough. But Stockport groups in High Lane, Woodford, Cheadle and Heald Green responded with a spirited campaign, culminating in a great protest outside the Town Hall (pictured) just days before the official consultation closed on Monday, 16th January. See High Lane-based Save Stockport’s Greenbelt and their facebook page. Groups have been active in defence of the Green Belt all around Greater Manchester and held a rally in Manchester’s Albert Square on April 1st.
The overall Greater Manchester plan was for 225,000 new homes across Greater Manchester to be constructed over the next 20 years, with a quarter on the Green Belt. In Stockport 12,000 out of 19,000 new homes would be on the Green Belt. The four proposed sites in Stockport were across the south of the Borough, close to the A6-Airport-M56 road now being built, which would connect to a future A6-M60 Bypass. The sites were
- Woodford 2,400 homes
- High Lane 4,000 homes
- Cheadle Hulme/Heald Green 3,700 homes
- Heald Green 2,000 homes
There was also to be a big industrial park extension in the Tame Valley. Up to 7,000 homes would be built on other sites on the borough not on Green Belt.
Estimates for housing need have determined the numbers in the plan, but the calculations have been pushed up by pressure from developers who have legal muscle to exploit rules set be central government. Clearly some extra homes will be needed over the next 20 years. The planners need to find more imaginative ways of providing the sites without a massive encroachment on to Green Belt.
The type of house that developers would like to build on Stockport’s Green Belt is not even what the borough needs. Because of their location these would be expensive houses, not the affordable homes, apartments and social housing that are mainly required.
SMBC has been saying there are too few brownfield sites for the housing required. Nevertheless it is conceded that there are more than have so far been identified.
We will see soon whether they have found more brownfield sites on which to place new homes, or whether incursions on to Stockport’s green belt are still on the agenda.