Protesters outside town hall.

Save the Green Belt

Protests early last year forced a rethink of plans for 12,000 homes on green belt across the south of Stockport borough. But an allied proposal to extend Bredbury Industrial estate across green belt almost to the River Tame is still moving forward.

Both proposals were included in the original draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which set out plans to spread the housing and industry out into the green belt all around the metropolis. A redraft of the Spatial Framework has been twice delayed in the last few months and is now expected to appear in December or January.

The initial delay of the redraft was from last July until October 2018, because of new official population projections showing slower growth of households than had previously been assumed. But the Government has now said the new, lower projections are to be disregarded.

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 have been on the Green Belt. The plans would have considerably increased the chances of Stockport Council getting funding from the Government to extend the Airport Road to Bredbury (the A6-M60 Bypass), to provide some sort of transport links. The new houses would have inevitably massively increased car use in the area in the absence of major new public transport connections.

In the redrafted Spatial Framework the great majority of new homes in Stockport are expected to be on brownfield sites. The Lib-Dem and Conservative councillors in Stockport are pledged to block major incursions into the greenbely for housing.

Elsewhere in Greater Manchester proposals for house-building on green belt are likely to be retained because of an alleged shortage of brownfield sites combined with the size of the housing target being imposed by the Government.

Spatial Framework housing plans combined with the A6-M60 Bypass would have urbanised much of the green and pleasant space remaining across the south of Stockport borough. But groups in High Lane, Woodford, Cheadle and Heald Green responded with a spirited campaign, culminating in a great protest outside the Town Hall (pictured) last January.

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 2017.

Proposed Industrial Estate expansion

A private developer Quorum is preparing a planning application to expand Bredbury Industrial Estate into the Tame Valley in Woodley. It has taken its cue from proposals in the first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

It would be outrageous if Stockport Council’s planners and planning committee were to approve Quorum’s plan while both the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and Stockport’s Local Plan are subject to consultation and the valley retains green belt protection.

The proposals in the Spatial Framework  to extend the industrial estate came from Stockport planners. There is a real threat to this area of green belt, whether from the Framework or from local decisions. Green belt can be overruled or scrapped by claims of “exceptional need”.

Woodley owl smaller

The plan itself….

Quorum’s “Bredbury Gateway” extension to the industrial estate would be highly intrusive, including

  1. Loss of an important area of peaceful green  belt well provided with wildlife (see picture of barn owl by Tameside Wildlife Intervention).
  2. The green belt is a buffer against noise and pollution from industry and big roads, of which Woodley and Bredbury already have much more than their fair share.
  3. Encroachment on the Tame Valley – visible to and affecting parts of the valley not directly built on.
  4. With the loss of the green belt would go the paths and bridleways – to be replaced by footways between industrial units.
  5. The protection to be provided for neighbouring residents in Castle Hill Park and Lowick Green  looks  minimal – some trees that will need time to grow, and an acoustic fence.
  6. Supposing the new units are let, and a claimed 2,214 jobs are created, there will be a considerable traffic impact on Ashton Road and roads connecting with it.
  7. The largest unit proposed by Bredbury Gateway is huge, overbearing and out of scale with Woodley (see developer’s artist’s impression below).

The case advanced by the Spatial Framework, the Council and the developer is about jobs, money and the economy. It is claimed that there is demand for the proposed industrial units and that there’s no other suitable site in Stockport. It is claimed that the site could provide £3.5 million of tax revenue for the Council – money which is sorely needed.

So far there has been little or no opposition to the industrial estate plan from local councillors, unlike the opposition to house-building in the south of the borough.

However, local MPs Andrew Gwynne and William Wragg collected signatures for a petition against the development proposal. They presented the petition in the Commons recently.

Mr Gwynne previously said: “Assurances were given by Stockport MBC during the release of green belt land from Reddish Vale Country Park for housing adjacent to Brinnington in January 2016 that no further loss of greenbelt in the area would be proposed. This is a clear violation of this assurance, a reneging of this promise and a betrayal of local residents.”

Woodley monster smaller