Protesters outside town hall.

Save the Green Belt

The new draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has been published by Mayor Burnham and the region’s council leaders. Across Greater Manchester, proposals to build houses on green belt have been much reduced since the first draft in 2016, but some very large developments remain in the north of the region.

It is estimated that the greenbelt land take has been halved. As well as a reduction in green belt building, there is a reduction in total homes proposed on all sites, from 227,000 in 2016 to 201,000.

In Stockport borough, as feared the proposal to expand Bredbury Industrial Estate is restated. All the previously proposed housing sites in the borough also remain but with reduced housing numbers.

In total, 4,000 homes would be built on green belt in the borough over the next 20 years  (according to Stockport Council) rather than the 12,000 in the first draft of the Framework. New housing sites on green belt have been added in Offerton, Romiley and Woodley. There is lack of clarity due to no figure being issued for the Offerton development.

To make up some of the numbers, there is an increased emphasis on high-density building on brownfield sites, particularly in Manchester but also in Stockport. A new “mayoral development corporation” will develop 3,000 homes in apartments in the west of Stockport town centre. The green belt proposals in Stockport borough are:
  • Woodford Aerodrome 750 homes substantially reduced from 2,400.
  • Stanley Green 850 homes, down from 3,700 originally.
  • High Lane 500 homes, down from 4,000 previously.
  • Heald Green 850 homes, down from 2,000.
  • Romiley 250 homes on Hyde Bank Meadows next to Cherry Tree Estate. New proposal.
  • Offerton unspecifed number of homes next to Castle Hill High School above the Goyt Valley. New proposal.
  • Woodley 250 homes at Gravel Bank Road/Unity Mill. New proposal.
  • Woodley: Bredbury Park Industrial Estate expansion into Tame Valley green belt (see picture below), the same as proposed in 2016.

The previous draft of the Framework in 2016 and early 2017 provoked widespread protests both in Stockport borough and across Greater Manchester. A large march and rally took place outside Stockport Town Hall. In response, the proposals to build on Stockport’s green belt were apparently binned – though, as we now see, the intention was really to reduce and modify them.

The original Framework explicitly mentioned the proposed extension of the Airport Road to Bredbury (the A6-M60 Bypass), to provide some sort of transport links for the thousands of new homes proposed on the edge of Stockport. The proposed Bypass also makes an appearance this time, on a map of all the Stockport proposals. An attached note says “develop investment case”.

An eight-week public consultation is to take place, starting on January 21st.  The official report (Stockport maps from page 351 onwards) is here.

Proposed Industrial Estate expansion

Woodley owl smaller

A private developer Quorum has been threatening to bring forward a planning application to expand Bredbury Industrial Estate into the Tame Valley (see picture above) in Woodley, taking its cue from the Spatial Framework.

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. Just 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

The Framework’s “allocations” mapped

34. Woodley: Bredbury Park Industrial Estate expansion into Tame Valley green belt.  Unbelievably, the development is supposed to “Contribute to the area’s special landscape qualities and key sensitivities…. Protect and enhance biodiversity interests, securing opportunities to achieve biodiversity net gains….”

spatial framework bredbury industrial

35. Offerton unspecified number of homes next to Castle Hill High School above the Goyt Valley. Doing the maths, it would be 500 if the overall Stockport total is 4,000. This would be impossible unless part of the school’s playing fields is taken. For some reason the school itself is included in the allocation (the eastern half including its playing field), although the school itself will remain and its building will be extended.

spatial framework offerton

36. Woodley 250 of homes at Gravel Bank Road/Unity Mill.

spatial framework unity mill woodley

37. Heald Green 850 homes, down from 2,000. New area by Village Hall.

spatial framework heald green

38. High Lane 500 homes, down from 4,000 previously. Less greenbelt taken north of A6, but new proposal south of A6.

spatial framework high lane

39. Romiley 250 homes on Hyde Bank Meadows next to Cherry Tree Estate.

spatial framework romiley 2

40. Stanley Green 850 homes, down from 3,700 originally.

spatial framework stanley green

41. Woodford Aerodrome 750 homes – substantially reduced from 2,400.

spatial framework woodford

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